A Cuban-American Writes about Proposed Flag Burning Amendment

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Adam's Apple, Jul 6, 2005.

  1. Adam's Apple

    Adam's Apple Senior Member

    Apr 25, 2004
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    By Miguel Perez for creators.com
    June 29, 2005

    As Congress considers a constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration, my mind flashes back to the day when my mother taught me how to draw an American flag.

    "It's the ultimate symbol of freedom," she said proudly. And then she banned me from displaying it.

    It was back in communist Cuba, some 45 years ago. But I remember how worried my mother became when she realized she had made a mistake.
    After all, she had taught a 10-year-old boy how to create the symbol of a country my teachers had described as the enemy.

    If I went around displaying my American flag, it could jeopardize our family plans to flee from Cuba, I was warned. If I kept drawing the symbol of "Yankee imperialism," the Fidel Castro regime could throw my father in prison and forbid us from moving to the United States.

    I can still picture the moment when my mother made me take a vow of silence. Perhaps the moment remains so vivid because it felt so awkward. Shortly after being taught to appreciate the aesthetic and symbolic beauty of the American flag, I was taking an oath to renounce it in public. And ironically, and quite hypocritically, I was to do this so that we could migrate to the United States.

    For me, it was a harsh way to learn the difference between repression and freedom, and the price one has to pay to be free. And so now that the House of Representatives has voted to ban the desecration of the American flag, now that a similar measure has a good chance of passing in the Senate, I keep thinking about my mother's flag-drawing lesson, and about the dilemma she faced when I drew my first flag.

    You see, my mother, Lilia Perez Martinez, who died in 1998, was a teacher. And she had taught me that flags could not be destroyed. Once we created my first American flag, we had to keep it -- and hide it. A very patriotic woman, my mother taught me that flag desecration was not only immoral and illegal in many Latin American countries. In her opinion, it was downright repulsive.

    My mother loved this country -- its freedom, its democracy, its Constitution. That's the reason she brought me here when we fled from Cuba in 1962, the reason why she was so proud when I became an American citizen and when I became a journalist in a free society.

    Of course, she believed in the free-speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment. But desecrating the flag that so many patriots have died defending, that's where we should make an exception, she said.

    She had zero tolerance for those who argued that, in the name of freedom, we should be able to destroy even the symbol of freedom.

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