Picture it. New York, Trump Tower, 2020. The police arrive en masse, wearing riot gear, with dozens of pairs of flex cuffs dangling from their belts. Immediately they commandeer the elevators and move to the twenty-first floor. Moving out in groups of four, they start with apartment 21A. Their sheer numbers allow them to advance quickly, scouring each room in every apartment until they reach the 34th floor, apartment 34G. In the master bedroom, they find sophisticated listening equipment aimed East, towards Madison Avenue. Sprawled throughout the main living room they find bank after bank of high-tech computer equipment and dozens of computer screens scrolling computer code faster than the human eye can read. All of it, according to the anonymous complaint, intended to stay one step ahead of IBM's newest communications encryption algorithm built for and funded by the Department of Defense and slated for a Christmas 2020 debut.
"Captain, we found it. Room 34G, registered to a Charles Farley, Vice President of New Development for Huawei, a Chinese tech manufacturer."
"Roger. Call off the search."
Unfathomable, some say. The 4th Amendment of the Constitution requires specificity that would prevent New York's finest from conducting such a cordon search of an entire building. Others praise the newest Constitutional Amendment allowing for the loose application of "probable cause" in cases of National Security as a "no brainer."
Christian, as unpopular as this may be, this scenario is a dramatization of the current proposal by Senators Steve Daines of Montana and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, and Representative Steve Womak of Arkansas calling for a Constitutional Amendment banning desecration of the U.S. flag. President Trump calls it a "no brainer." I call it a gross overreach and violation of the 1st Amendment protections of free speech – no less important than the religious freedoms established by that same amendment.
Not long ago, former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano called servicemen and women returning from tours overseas Rightwing Extremists. To be fair, Secretary Napolitano said troops returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were "at risk for being recruited by right-wing extremists." Her intent? "To give law enforcement what we call 'situational awareness.'"
Make no mistake, Christian. Eroding the 1st Amendment in the name of reverence for the flag may seem like a "no brainer," but what comes next? We talk about the slippery slope in church, but it not only applies to that "small sin" that leads to a severing of our relationship with Christ. The slope is slippery from whichever angle we approach. How far do we, as Christians, allow that erosion to go? God forbid we support erosion or are naïve enough to buy its premise. Ask any serviceman or woman and anyone with a clear head, anyone with a true understanding of the freedom we pledged our lives to protect, will respond that, while many of us would still give our lives to defend that flag, it is the right of every American to burn said flag, constitutionally supported and previously ruled upon by the Supreme Court of these United States (Texas v. Gregory Lee Johnson, 1989).
Decades ago a wise man said, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." This quote from Benjamin Franklin is often used to defend freedom from tyrannical government, while its true meaning is freedom from tyranny through government. Still, times change and the temporal meaning of the phrase reminds us that security comes neither from those in the seat of government, nor from those who seek to hurt us, but from people themselves. And, as Christians, we the people know exactly in whom we place our hope for security.
"'For behold, I have made you this day
A fortified city and an iron pillar,
And bronze walls against the whole land—
Against the kings of Judah,
Against its princes,
Against its priests,
And against the people of the land.
They will fight against you,
But they shall not prevail against you.
For I am with you,' says the Lord, 'to deliver you.'" (Jer 1:18-19, NKJV)
– Mark Klages is an influential contributor, a former US Marine and a lifelong teacher who focuses on applying a Christian worldview to everyday events. Mark blogs at https://maklagesl3.wixsite.com/website under the title "God Provides where Hate Divides," with a heart to heal social, political, relational, and intellectual wounds through God's divine love and grace. Mark can also be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-klages-04b42511/.
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