“Desecration” Again

Today, the House passed the following proposed amendment to the Constitution: “The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.” Now, the word “desecration” has no force unless something is “sacred” beforehand, and since so many elected officials make public protestations of their ardent Christian faith, we can safely assume that they led the resistance to defining any symbol of national identity as “sacred” — can’t we?

I may be extra sensitive about the issue, since I’m going to give a presentation on the first three commandments in a few weeks — but if those commandments mean anything, don’t they absolutely and unequivocally forbid their adherents from elevating anything or anyone other than God to the status of “sacred”?

2 thoughts on ““Desecration” Again

  1. Some other questions come up as well: Do people who “desecrate” the flag (in the US at least) typically understand their gesture to be exactly that, “desecration”? If by burning it, wearing it upside down on the seat of their pants, or by some other unconventional use of the flag, someone does proclaim their act as desecration, they obviously participate in the reification, the sacralization, of that symbol. If, on the other hand, they describe their gesture in some other fashion are they *really* desecrating it? What counts as desecration and who gets to decide? Will someone suggest that we elect or appoint a high priest of proper patriotism? Will the consciences of Congressional officals–some of whom surely want both to fly a sacred flag and to display the divine Decalogue in the same federal building–only then finally crack under the pressure of contradiction?

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