A controversy is building in the little town of Haddam, Conn. where Selectwoman Melissa Schlag continues to take a knee NFL-Style during the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of meetings. Her protest however is not the treatment of African Americans but to protest President Donald Trump. I have previously stated my personal dislike for such protests during the national anthem and I frankly view this as a bit silly as a forum. However, while I have argued that owners have every right to bar such protests by NFL players as a contractual matter, I believe Schlag has a clear first amendment right to continue her protest as these meetings.
Schlag said that she was specifically motivated to do the protest in response to Trump’s comments after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.
Schlag told the Hartford Courant. “I felt nervous when I did it but I also felt powerful. If I don’t speak up, those who can’t won’t be heard.”
She however insisted that the “The Pledge of Allegiance doesn’t have anything to do with the flag, in my opinion,” according to FOX61. I agree that it is broader than the flag but that only deepens my dislike for such protests. For me, the flag and the allegiance is our collective expression of unity in our constitutional system. It is the same Constitution that allows Schlag to work to defeat Trump in the next election. She is protesting the very thing that guarantees her right to change the system and yes protest. It is a curious thing to be made at Trump and yet protest the flag or the Constitution or whatever she sees in that moment of collective affirmation.
Schlag was previously criticized for removing both the United States and Connecticut flags removed from her office rom 2013 to 2015 when she served as first selectwoman. She insisted that that she removed them to make way for a bookshelf.