I have watched the events of this past week with a mix of sadness and disgust. Particularly the displays by some NFL players, coaches, and owners, to the anti-free speech antics of the UC Berkley administration and other leftists during what was supposed to be Free Speech Week.
It seems folks are “triggered” or offended by any display of patriotism or the expression of any thoughts/opinions with which they disagree.
Symbols such as the American flag and the National Anthem are being disrespected. Free Speech rights are being trampled on. The left and the liberal media are rallying around NFL players who turned their back on the flag of the nation that has given them so much.
My appreciation goes to the ones that rose to the challenge and, despite extraordinary social pressure, remained standing. Those same leftist groups worked very hard to shut down Free Speech Week at Berkley. Patriotic Americans are being called Racists, White Supremacists, White Nationalists, neo-Nazis, or fascists for displaying a flag, exercising their right to free speech, or supporting our President.
The message from the liberal media and the left is clear – Patriots who put our country first and want the tenets of our Constitution upheld are racists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis deserving of a punch in the face.
But they are WRONG! Patriotism is none of those things.
Patriotism is love of country. We Patriots love our country – everyday. We don’t love our country any less when the economy is bad, the stock market down, unemployment up. And yes… Patriotism is also respecting the office of the President of the United States even if we don’t agree with the policies or the person. We patriots can love our country and not agree with our President. We continued to love our country for the eight years of disappointment we had under Barack Obama. Because we love our country, we hope our President makes good decisions and is successful, because if he does his job well, we ALL benefit.
Patriots believe in putting America and American citizens first. We embrace our diversity, which is our greatest strength, while also wanting secure borders. Patriotism is NOT Identity Politics. It is believing that race/color is NOT the most important thing about a person. It is looking at the character and quality of a person rather than the color of their skin, their gender, their sexual orientation, or their religion. We believe in taking care of our Veterans. We believe in freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and justice for all.
Don’t get me wrong, pride in our country does not mean we think we have a perfect nation, any more than pride in one’s appearance means one thinks they have the perfect body. Pride in country means that we believe our country is the best country in the world despite her flaws. It means we are committed to doing our part to ensure we continue to move in the right direction. It is remembering and understanding our (sometimes painful) history – where we started, the hard-fought gains, and recognizing that we still have issues that need to be resolved. It is BECAUSE we love our country that we want to work to make it the best it can possibly be – for EVERYONE.
Patriotism includes Constitutional Patriotism – The belief that the Constitution should be protected and defended, and that the laws within apply to ALL.
It means respecting our existing laws even as we work to change/improve them. It demands that we believe in the idea that all citizens are created equal and should be treated equally under the law– no matter their skin color, socio-economic status, gender, occupation, or position in the community. It means respecting each other’s rights and understanding that nobody’s rights trump someone else’s. That all should have equal access to opportunity – Understanding that nobody is guaranteed equality of outcome, we believe that American citizens should not face roadblocks related to color, race, age, gender, etc. in their pursuit of happiness. That life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are the rights of ALL citizens.
Patriotism does NOT mean turning a blind eye when injustices occur. Patriotism demands that we acknowledge oppression and injustice when/where it occurs and work to resolve it. Patriotism is a commitment to do all we can, each day, to ensure that our country lives up to the hype. To respect and support those who protect our freedoms and enforce our laws. To hold those that are charged with enforcing our laws accountable if they break the law.
Patriots show respect for the symbols of our country. We are loyal to our flag and our national anthem and what they stand for. We appreciate the sacrifices made by those who defend it. We understand and appreciate how lucky we are to live in the USA. We love our country enough to want the best for ALL citizens. We believe in focusing on what is positive about this country, recognizing where we fall short, and working to improve in those areas. We work to consistently express our patriotism through our daily actions, through our prayers, through our charitable giving, through our care and consideration for our fellow citizens.
Love of country is something we should ALL share. It is something Bikers for Trump, Black Lives Matter, and AntiFa should all have in common. Pride in America should be shared by the old and the young, by the educated and uneducated, by the rich and the poor, by the left and the right, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. With that love, comes the responsibility to each do our part to ensure this country is one we can be proud of. Through non-violent activism, through educating ourselves before exercising our right to vote, through our speech, through our actions, and our interactions with others.
As Peggy Noonan said in 1998 – “Other nations had evolved one way or another: evolved from tribes, from a gathering of the clans, from inevitabilities of language and tradition and geography. But America was born—and born of ideas: that all men are created equal, that they have been given by God certain rights that can be taken from them by no man, and that those rights combine to create a thing called freedom. They were free to pursue happiness, free to worship God, free to talk and speak in public of their views, and to choose their leaders.”
For Patriots, America is our baby – and we love it. And like any parent, we need to correct our baby when it is moving in the wrong direction as it is now. Moving away from Patriotism, away from the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, away from law and order, away from peaceful assembly and protest, away from freedom of speech for EVERYONE, away from respect for our flag and national anthem. We are moving away from the hard-fought gains we’ve made since our country’s birth. Away from the freedoms and liberties our forefathers fought for and our soldiers still fight to protect. Toward divisiveness, toward identity politics, toward mob rule, toward violence, toward anarchy…
Are we a perfect nation? We are not. Do we need to hold accountable those who stray from the ideals of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and Bill of Rights? Absolutely. Can we do better? I believe we can. And if history is any indication, we will. We mustn’t let our current failures deter us from continuing down a good path, a path that will build on the gains we’ve made over the past 200+ years.
How about we UNITE around that?