TThis week, thousands of Cuban dissidents marched against the repressive Communist tyranny that has subjugated the Cuban people for three generations. They chanted “Libertad!” and called for an end to the diet. And they carried in the air a symbol of freedom: the American flag.
It is not a rarity. It is a common sight among freedom protesters around the world. Before Hong Kong became another municipality under Chinese Communist tyranny, freedom-seeking dissidents marched in the tens of thousands carrying the American flag. When the Iranian demonstrators rise up against the mullahcracy submitting their nation to theocratic despotism, they refuse to degrade the American flag.
They do it for a reason: People around the world understand that the American flag represents freedom. The British and French peoples understood it in 1917 as they did in 1944. The prisoners of Auschwitz understood it; the freedom fighters in Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia understood this; South Korean patriots have understood this; the Kurds have understood this. For generations, the star-spangled banner has been a symbol of freedom for all those on the planet who oppose totalitarianism.
This is why it is so striking that, while foreign dissidents risk their lives even for their freedom to carry the American flag, American citizens who live in the freest, most prosperous and tolerant nation of the world history kneel for the flag, or burn the flag, or turn their backs on the flag. What do those abroad know that those at home don’t know? This totalitarianism is much more widespread in the world and throughout the history of the world than freedom; that individual rights can be universal, but that they are manifested only when those who have the courage of their convictions fight for them; that in a world of darkness and chaos, America – for all its faults, both historic and present – has been and remains a force for good.
And yet the national left today cannot say the same. When White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the obvious disparity between Cuban dissident treatment of the American flag and American leftist treatment of that same flag, she stammered, âWell, I would say d First, the president certainly values ââand respects the symbol of the American flag. He’s someone who certainly agitates him outside his home, or in Delaware and other places he’s lived throughout his time. He also believes people have the right to protest peacefully, and he believes both can be true. “
But that is not the question. The question is whether he is morally right despise the flag, not if Americans have the right to mess around. The fact that the White House cannot simply recognize that foreign dissidents are right about the American flag, and that many members of the American left today have it all wrong, is revealing and tragic.
It’s tragic because a country that does not believe enough in its own principles to defend its flag for moral reasons – especially the flag representing a country that has freed hundreds of millions of people from tyranny and poverty. – will stop projecting its fundamental principles. And freedom fighters abroad will pay the price. The American flag will cease to be a symbol of freedom and hope, and instead become what its critics now say it is: a symbol of weakness and solipsism.
If Americans believe our flag is less a beacon of hope than a looming specter of oppression, we will withdraw from the world stage as we deal with undermining and rooting out our core ideals. Which, of course, is the goal of the American left. And the global power vacuum will not be filled by liberal elites, but by totalitarian powers that are not so sorry for their own ambitions.
Ben Shapiro is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show” and editor of DailyWire.com. He is the author of several New York Times bestsellers.