Gregory Lee Johnson has zero desire in mincing words when it comes to Donald Trump’s most recent unconstitutional rant, calling the President-elect “a fascist”. And if anyone has the right to call Trump out on this blatant infringement of First Amendment rights, it’s him.
Johnson was the defendant in the Supreme Court’s 1989 landmark case Texas v. Johnson, after he violated a Texas “flag desecration” law in 1984 by setting a flag on fire. the ‘offense’ occurred in Dallas during the Republican National Convention where Johnson was protesting President Reagan’s administration.
The High Court ruled flag burning is protected speech under the First Amendment.
Johnson’s comments about Trump, as relayed to The New York Daily News from his home in the San Francisco Bay area, were in response to the increasingly mentally unstable billionaire’s Tuesday tweet:
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016
From Johnson’s perspective, Trump is:
“using the bully pulpit for fascism and forced patriotism — and I mean ‘bully’ in every sense of the word.”
“Fascism means taking the national symbol and attaching only one permissible meaning to it. That has broad and dangerous implications.”
Trump’s comments have caused an uproar to say the least, but Johnson, who was just 33 at the time of the Supreme Court ruling, is warning about the bigger picture. He says Trump is working suppress any voice that speaks up against America and it’s foreign policies. Stating the country is:
“an ugly empire that has done horrific things around the world. As much as they want to glory in it, they’re not always the good guys. Across the Middle East, they’ve caused mass suffering with drones and backing puppet armies. American imperialism and Islamic fundamentalist jihadism are both outmoded and they must go.”
Johnson, now 60, hasn’t been settling in for a quiet retirement from protesting. He last burned an American flag at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland to protest Trump’s campaign.
“Trump promoted an ugly xenophobia, with talk of hunting immigrants, pogroms against Muslims, cheering killer cops and all the misogyny.”
And the lifelong activist isn’t done:
“Of course I intend on doing this again. But I don’t need to be the only one. Trump is threatening this form of protest. Do you want them telling you that you have to love the flag or love the country?”
Johnson go suggests what America needs is “a revolution.”
Against Trump it does.
Featured image via Darren McCollester / Getty Images