This is a previous writing dated back 25 September 2016. Upon re-read…NAILED IT!
What stands out to me is two distinct things: dissent and patriotism. These topics stick out because they are ill-defined, subjective, and yet, a big part of the American culture. Personally, I think dissent is the most prominent form of patriotism. In fact, disagreement played a vital role in the American Revolution. At the time, the colonists were viewed as anti-patriots (against Britain), and their acts of rebellion considered treacherous. It was only after they secured a victory that the history was written that these folks were true patriots. The circumstances may be different, but the dissent/patriotism topic reminds me of the current Colin Kaepernick situation.
Mr. Kaepernick has chosen to kneel during the playing of the national anthem before NFL games. I respect his choice because he is taking a stand against what he sees as injustice. Not only that, he is placing his career, financial future and even possibly his life in jeopardy. In fact, the only problem that I have with this form of protest is the lack of clarity and that the focus of attention glares on him as an individual instead of his message.
Real change can’t occur unless you adequately identify, plan and work toward achieving an established vision or goal. Some have quickly labeled Mr. Kaepernick as anti-patriotic or even a traitor. This situation reminds me of the plight of the great Muhammad Ali.
Ali refused to serve in the Vietnam war because he was a conscientious objector and refused to kill anyone due to moral and religious beliefs. In Ali’s case, he was exiled from boxing for three years. During the prime of his career, he sacrificed three years to take a moral stand. At the time, he was labeled a traitor and Un-American. Through the years, he has gained immense respect for taking his position.
Additionally, many of those that criticize Mr. Kaepernick do so under the guise of the troops. A common argument is that his protest disrespects the troops, either those that have died or those that are currently serving. Ironically, this case bothers me. Not to be political, but many of these same people proudly support Donald J. Trump for President. Why does it bother me?
Well, primarily for two reasons. The first, Donald Trump successfully dodged being drafted to Vietnam, unlike Ali, he did not do so under conditions of his morality. Plus, he never really faced the public scrutiny or paid the price of someone like Ali. The second reason, during his campaign Trump, has publicly criticized Senator John McCain’s service record as a Prisoner of War (POW). He followed that up by openly insulting the Khan family. Their son, Captain Humayun Khan, was one of those troops that these folks claim to care about and support. Personally, I find attacks on actual people more offensive than assaults on symbolism. I fully support the right of everyone to exercise their protected right to freedom of speech even if I disagree.
Sadly, patriotism today is hi-jacked by some to fulfill their political narrative. The truth is, there are at least two Americas. One that sees any criticism (they don’t agree with) as unpatriotic. The other that shows the need to address the ills of society and to strive to achieve fairness, liberty, and justice for all. Although the circumstances of today may not be the same as during the American Revolution the dissent still echoes in the same voice. Thus, it is safe to say the spirit of America lives on.