Should U.S. freedom to protest be flexed?

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 21, 2003

Tribune staff

As Allied ground forces pushed into Iraqi territory on Thursday, thousands of war protesters pushed themselves into the spotlight.

Around the globe people held demonstrations to show their disapproval with the attacks on Iraq. Some of the protests were peaceful; others sadly turned violent.

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Matters of war almost always divide popular opinion. Perhaps this is no more true than in America, where the personal freedom to speak one's mind is protected by our Constitution.

For many Americans, this freedom to protest is taken for granted during more peaceful times. However, the true test of that freedom comes out when our country is under duress or undergoing a tumultuous period.

Thursday's protests throughout the United States prove that our freedoms still ring true.

No one was arrested for simply protesting - as would be the case in many countries around the world. Only criminal acts sparked arrests.

Americans have every right to question their government and display their disagreement with its actions.

In fact, much to the dismay of many Americans, citizens are allowed to burn our most precious symbol, our country's flag, to demonstrate or protest.

While we appreciate the freedoms and liberty we hold so precious in this country, we cannot help but be turned off by the sight of seeing Americans burn our flag on the peaceful streets of our country.

That feeling of cold detachment, even disgust, is especially felt when, halfway across the globe, their countrymen are fighting beneath the same patriotic banner.

Today, as the ground war in Iraq continues and American and other Allied soldiers are putting their lives on the line, we urge all citizens to support them.

The time for protesting in an effort to change the inevitability of the war has past. Just because one is allowed to burn the flag or belittle our military, does not mean one should do so - especially now.