A new NRA ad features official spokesman Don Ramos testifying to why he stands for the flag. Ramos told Fox News he aimed to discredit NFL players who kneel during the anthem.
Ramos’ words reek of hypocrisy, given the NRA’s rigid grip on the Second Amendment while pushing First Amendment free speech rights to the sidelines. Evidently, if enough people don’t like what someone says, verbally or nonverbally, that person’s speech rights should be waived? Perhaps our right to free thought and speech should be downgraded to second place?
Imagine an America where scores of citizens weren’t shielded by the First Amendment — people who spoke out against injustices, some, like Martin Luther King Jr., losing their lives. Such individuals, along with groups like suffragettes, used words, not guns, to fight for every voice.
Speech uses words. Words are symbols that convey ideas, both grand and shallow. Nonverbal symbols such as the flag represent grand ideas, particularly the right to speak our minds. Unfortunately, Ramos reduces the flag to something flat and thin. The flag flew over America during decades of slavery, Reconstruction and Jim Crow. That same flag waved throughout multiple wars that left soldiers, including those in segregated units, wounded or dead. And that flag billowed as black men were lynched and Alabama Gov. George Wallace proclaimed “segregation forever.”
Ramos speaks for NRA members allied by a single constitutional amendment. But in the ad, he goes further, suggesting an amputated view of “freedom and justice for all.”