You have a constitutional right to burn the American flag, just like you have a constitutional right to bear arms.
No difference. Patriots died for both rights. Those brave soldiers overseas are defending your right to burn the flag. Our hero police officers stand ready to protect your right to burn the flag. The brave Marines who died on Iwo Jima died for your right to burn the American flag.
You have a constitutional right to burn the American flag in protest. You also have a constitutional right to burn the American flag for light, for heat or just for the hell of it. You have a constitutional right to burn the flag while performing an abortion or conducting weird satanic rites.
You have a constitutional right to wave the flag at Klan rallies while saying that black people are lynchable apes. You have a constitutional right to wave the flag while saying the Holocaust never happened.
If you beat a gay man to death for being gay and then burn the American flag, you can be arrested for murder, but not for burning the flag.
If you own an American company that produces its products in overseas sweatshops, you are perfectly free to fly the flag over your American headquarters.
If you're rich and you buy a company, loot its pension plan and sell its assets, when you go out of business, your now-jobless workers will leave the plant on the last day and walk past the flagpole from which you fly Old Glory. You can then fly that flag from the stern of your yacht. The brave boys at Valley Forge died for that right.
You can fly the flag out in front of your gun store in Mississippi, and you can knowingly sell guns to a "straw buyer" who will take them north to Chicago, where they will be used to shoot teenagers. You can fly the flag in front of a payday loan business where you cheat the poor.
You can fly the flag out in front of a chicken processing plant where illegal immigrants are underpaid and pushed so hard to work faster that they frequently slip with the knife and cut off a finger. You can fly the flag over your business as you break the union, as you eliminate the pension, as you demand employees work forced overtime, as you do away with sick days, as you starve and dishonor and belittle your workers.
You can fly the flag over your retail store that offers wages so low your employees qualify for food stamps. You can fly the flag over the homeless shelter in a city where there are fewer jobs every year and the ones that are left pay minimum wage.
You can fly the flag over a day labor agency where only the most desperate men and women go for work. You can fly it over a liquor store that sells cheap beer and off-brand cigarettes and lottery tickets, all the great time-wasting tools of the poor. You can fly it over the megachurch where the congregation arrives in 10-year-old Fords and the minister drives home in a Mercedes.
Don't look up at the American flag. Look down to see what it hides, what it shades, what it excuses, what it camouflages.
Root out injustice because it dishonors the flag. Stand up against prejudice because it dishonors the flag. Insist that the flag not be flown over nests of thieves and the businesses of cheats.
You don't put the flag on your bumper. You put it in your heart.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, "King of the World on $14 an Hour," is a collection of his best 2015 columns and is available for Nook and Kindle.