Don't Burn the Flag, Fix It

By Dakota Antleman (Hudson High School Student)

Our country’s successes and accidents are all uniquely connected by their roots in 240 years of American history. None of these successes or accidents are singular events but, rather, interconnected episodes in the ongoing story of this country.

The looming Donald Trump presidency is an American accident.

So, just as we know that the American victory in World War II was not the direct result of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we can realize that the accident that is Donald Trump’s election was not caused by one or even several missteps. Instead, it was caused by countless imperfections in the fabric of our nation.

As millennials, we had no part in the creation of many of these flaws — we were not alive. But we are Americans and, as such, we must address these imperfections. To abandon them would be to abandon the good parts of America with which they are intertwined. In the coming months and years, we must take the lead in confronting these grisly flaws in our society that allowed a demagogue to become our president. 

We must do this because we have the largest and longest stake in the post-Trump years. Missteps now, either on our part or by our leaders, will have the potential to impact the rest of our long lives in this country. To prevent these missteps, we must educate ourselves on both why and how we made our first mistake of electing Trump. 

There was the “whitelash” that CNN Commentator Van Jones spoke of as the election began to swing towards Trump on election night. There were the issues of economic stagnation for working class Americans that former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders probed in a special article to the New York Times on Friday. There were the failures of the media both in polling and in their commentary that so many have enumerated in the days since the election. And then there was the reinvigoration of the white nationalist movement over the past two years. Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke did, after all, endorse Trump this year before running a losing senate campaign in Louisiana. Then, after the election, some vandals plastered swastikas and racial slurs across the buildings and cares of minority targets. These are all burdens on our country that will take time to shake. In the meantime, we must be aware of the easy paths to populism and hate that they can and have created. Our electorate traversed many of those paths on November 8.

Our awareness of these flaws should prompt us to fight back if Trump tries to exploit them. In this redefined political landscape, fighting means protesting if our neighbors get deported for unfair reasons. It means exposing our government’s crimes even if doing so violates unjust laws. It means shredding sexism, male entitlement, and systemic racism. In Trump’s America, fighting for our country means defending the most basic human rights which we hold so dear.

 Very simply, it is not time to burn our flag as some protesters have done. Instead, it is time to place that flag under a light and locate its self-destructive blemishes. Then, before those blemishes do destroy the flag, we must mend them.