Our Constitution: Phenomenon that changed the World

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By Former Texas Congressman Charlie Stenholm:

It almost didn’t make it, because of strong opposition from factions in some of the States. But for the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments) it would never have been approved and we would, at least at that time, not have become the United States of America. Most of us find that hard to believe. If it interests you, there is a 648 page book, entitled the Federalist Papers that makes some worthwhile reading. Described by ThomasJefferson as “the best commentary on the principles of government , which ever was written”. And the beauty is that it is just as pertinent in 2020.

In the spirit of information and communication that helps us all to better understand issues of local importance, I commend the guest column in last weeks Hood County News written by Calvin Lawrence. Made me wish I had found more ways to work with John Lewis on racism in America, when I had the chances.

That article, and the article from Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Glenn on the plans for opening our schools (supported by the elected school board) safely for children and teachers bear reading and supporting.

  • Now for a thought for today. In 1787 our Founders were having a difficult time getting the support of the 13 colonies, of which 9 were required. As was stated in The Federalist Papers there was a “zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well as speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambiguously contending for pre-eminence and power, or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them more disposed to vex and oppose each other than to cooperate for their common good.”

Vex: Make (someone) feel annoyed, frustrated, or worried, especially with trivial matters. Respect for the Flag or National Anthem is not trivial, but has been made a divisive issue by a political faction. But as defined by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution and upheld by the Supreme Court, it is protected as free speech. NO penalties for those who do otherwise.

For years Jehovahs Witnesses refused to stand for the National Anthem, because they don’t believe in idolizing things, like flags and songs. Nothing to them should come before God. It was never a major problem for anyone until Colin Kaepernick. Wonder why? He certainly meant no disrespect for all who have given their all for this Country.

I know how it feels, having suffered the wrath of my constituents after voting in the House against the amendment to the Constitution to prevent flag burning. I too certainly meant no disrespect. I was troubled by the 1st amendment. But I found it difficult to explain to my constituents, particularly Veterans.. So I later went with them and against the Constitution. One of the decisions I made that I was never particularly proud of and some have never forgiven me for the first vote.

And then I begin to notice a curious inconsistency in this factional thinking on respect for the Flag. According to the United States Flag Code. “the Flag should never be used for any advertising, nor embroidered on cushions or handkerchiefs, printed on boxes or napkins, nor used as any part of a costume.” But again there are no penalties just as in flag burning or not standing quietly with hat off and hand over heart. Some believe it shows patriotism which it does, but does it show respect for the Flag?

Personally I think we should all respect the flag at all times because of what it stands for. But shouldn’t we respect even more the Constitution? I am curious as to how a mask or using a napkin with the American Flag printed on it is less disrespectful than choosing to kneel instead of stand for the playing of the National Anthem. Both are allowed under the 1st Amendment.

Deceased Justice of the Supreme Court Anthony Scalia, a true conservative, in later expressing his reasoning for casting the deciding vote in the 5-4 decision upholding the 1st amendment rights of protesters to burn the flag got it right when he said “If it were up to me, I would put in jail every sandal-wearing, scruffy bearded weirdo who burns the Flag “ but he continued “I am not a king”.

Peaceful protesting is protected. Rioting and stealing are not. Too many leaders are not adequately differentiating. And that needs to stop!

As Benjamin Franklin wisely observed “without freedom of thought there can be no wisdom-and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech.” Having leaders that work to unite rather than divide, as we have locally would sure be welcome nationally. But then again we soon will turn to the Constitution. The solution is called elections!

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