Below is the complete statement from Toni Smith:
For some time now, the inequalities that are embedded into the American system have bothered me. As they are becoming progressively worse and it is clear that the government's priorities are not bettering the quality of life for all of its people, but rather on expanding its own power, I can no longer, in good conscience, salute the flag.
The war America will soon be entering in has reinforced my beliefs, while further angering me. I am aware that this is a time of fear for many Americans, and the media has done a fine job of maintaining that fear and riling up people's emotions. However, amidst this fear people have lost sight of the fact that Bush's plan for "maintaining our safety" will cause many innocent people, women and children, mothers and babies, to die overseas. Furthermore, going to war will likely provoke more violence in this country.
It does not bother me that so many Americans oppose me. If anyone looked deeper than the headlines they would find that my arguments are true. Besides, whether or not people agree with me is irrelevant. It is my right as an American to stand for my beliefs the way others have done against me. Being patriotic cannot simply be an empty slogan. Patriotism can be shown in many ways, but those who choose to do so by saluting the flag should recognize that the American flag stands for individuality and freedom. Therefore, any true patriot must acknowledge and respect my right to be different.