Protesting the Right to Protest


Protesting the right to protest makes as much sense as protesting chocolate chips if you crave them baked into cookies. It’s completely contradictory.

With the NBA season around the corner, and more athletes indicating they plan to join the “sit-in” during the National Anthem, I feel compelled to send a message to athletes and coaches alike, since peace officers are asked to provide protection, security, and traffic related functions at these events. And ironically they are ultimately protesting the institution of law enforcement, but track with me for a minute.

The ultimate authority in America is the United States Constitution. The Bill of Rights are part of this authority. The First Amendment, which grants us the right to protest, is part of the Bill of Rights. The American flag is the foremost symbol of America and the ultimate governing authority—the Constitution. The Star Spangled Banner is the National Anthem, which declares our support and allegiance to the flag, our Constitution, and the United States of America.

Consequently, I believe anyone who protests the American flag, or the National Anthem, is actually protesting the right to protest. It’s illogical.

Today I saw a gentleman wearing a t-shirt that caught my attention. Abraham Lincoln was pictured wearing a pair of Stevie Wonder-style sunglasses. “That is sooooo ‘Four Score’ & Seven Years Ago” was the message scripted on the shirt.

The sub-quote is from the Gettysburg Address, delivered by President Lincoln during the American Civil War, on November 19, 1863. The speech was delivered at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg. The timeframe (four score and seven) equals 87 years prior, or 1776 when America declared her independence from the Crown of England.

I suppose the shirt could be interpreted differently, but to me it said, “Let’s undo what we’ve accomplished in America. It’s old, outdated, and time to move on.” What a sobering proposition. Is that really the undertone?

In ignorance, anyone protesting the anthem AND our flag is in essence protesting the First Amendment, Bill of Rights, and the U.S. Constitution. Their actions declare, “I protest the right to protest,” not actually the perceived abuse by law enforcement.

If someone wants to protest oppression, real or imagined, that is fundamentally American. But shaking a fist at the symbols representing the rights being exercised is a misunderstanding of civics and demonstrates a principal lack of knowledge and understanding.

One problem we have in America is that we’ve lost a sense of reality regarding governmental oppression. I am pictured in the photo below with a group of people that have experienced human atrocities at the hands of their respective governments and terrorist organizations. I worked with these people (refugees) for a short time in Mullheim, Germany. I had a chance to hear their gut wrenching stories from Afghanistan, Syria, Gambia, and Eritrea. I am not trying to sensationalize my experience. I simply want you to know, the people in this picture would literally sacrifice their life if it meant family members would be able to enjoy the rights and privileges that are taken for granted in the U.S.


I am not poking fun at the protesters; I’m simply implying that someone needs to educate them. But that isn’t news.

On the other hand, if their message connects with my interpretation of the t-shirt, and they believe we need to “re-write” the ultimate governing authority—the U.S. Constitution—and all it represents, you can count me out! I revere the symbolism of our flag, the National Anthem, and the rule of law established by the Constitution of the United States.

 Call me “Homer” because I root for America. Not because she is perfect, but she has always sought to overcome deficiencies through a Democratic Republic. Her rich tradition and heritage are noteworthy. As such, I can conclude my thoughts no other way:


I pledge allegiance
To the flag
Of the United States of America
And to the Republic
For which it stands
One nation
Under God
With liberty
And justice for all
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