Tuesday night, a family in South Ogden that supported Barack Obama returned home after working the polls, thrilled by the news that their candidate was going to win the presidential election. In their enthusiasm and pride, they hung their American Flag outside of their home. Within an hour someone had torched that flag.

The burning of the family’s flag was a vile and repugnant act. Significantly, it was a direct attack on a family’s home that could possibly have resulted in physical harm. Thus it goes beyond simple vandalism to assault. It was also an attack on American values and ideals.

This is not how we as Americans express our opinions on political matters. You can be unhappy with the outcome of an election. You can have dramatic differences of opinion on matters of policy and values with the candidate that wins an election. The way you deal with that is to go to work to build support for your views so that they can influence political behavior in the near term and hopefully influence election outcomes in the future.

Committing vandalism and violence against people that supported candidates or issues differently than you is more than just petty and small minded; it is evil. The same holds true for stealing or defacing campaign signs, bumper stickers, etc. You should defend yourself appropriately if your life or liberty is in jeopardy. But a normal political campaign hardly rises to a level to justify the kinds of ugly actions I have discussed.

When our candidate or issue loses, we should behave toward those with whom we disagree as we would like them to behave toward us when our side comes out on top.

Fortunately, many in the community adhere to the principles I discussed in my post about acting nobly. As reported in the Standard Examiner, many have given flags to the family whose flag was burned. I have learned that a number of the flag donors were McCain supporters. Regardless of who they supported in the election, many have come forward to demonstrate that American values are more important than an election outcome. For that I am grateful.

I don’t know if authorities will catch those involved in this crime. But now that many have come forward to support this family, I hope that the criminals are ashamed of their despicable actions.

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