On September 25th, this past Monday, Shannon Sharpe gave one of the best speeches on the subject of Trump and the ever-growing racial division here in the United States. While many commentators gave excellent orations in light of recent attacks by the President of United States on the NFL, Sharpe took the situation from a slightly different perspective. His opening statement sums up in eloquent fashion a voice of reason we needed to hear:
“I'm disappointed. And I'm unimpressed. I'm disappointed, Skip, and Joy, because this is the tipping point. Of the 7,537 things that President Trump has said in the last 50 years, him calling an NFL player an SOB is what brought the NFL, the owners and its players, together. And while some might be moved by the conscience of these NFL owners, it wasn't their conscience that moved them. It was the cash.”
To put it simply, our definition of patriotism in this country has gone to shit.
We need to redefine American patriotism one of unconditional common decency and values that would exemplify any nation as welcoming, brave, and tolerant. The Trump Administration since elected has merely symbolized the radicalized militaristic patriotism that has twisted this country into a molten foundation of hate, uncompromising ignorance and total lack of critical thought. Pride in America has gone blind for far too long, as sweeping tides of xenophobic regimes are beginning to unfold, a cage encloses us.
Why in this day and age is one’s level of pride reside in how many military magnets we have on our car, or who wears the most red, white, and blue on the 4th of July? We should use our pride for our nation to better it, to religiously check our laws and our constitution (good and bad so we may make changes), review outdated policies, learn who our elected leaders are. We should continue the trend of providing a haven for all walks of life as many profess in their church every week. We should fight for our crumbling education budget, to lead by example not solely in military capacity but in the delegation, coming forward to admit the mistakes of our past by removing confederate monuments without hesitation, without the "some good people" protesting as an armed militia and not allowing the death of innocent lives. We should hold blind faith in contempt, and fight this growing trend of social narcissism that has mutated this nation.
One common trend I find behind many decisions and remarks by Trump supporters continually standby is the golden age of the fifties, the supposed hallmark of American values and tradition. To understand this train of thought behind the GOP front, one must take a close look into what was actually the most bizarre generation of American history, as well the greatest influx of American population (until millennials). The evolution into modern American patriotism today is actually an abnormal concept, as the 50’s was an abnormal decade in comparison to the rest of the 20th century. Elaine Tyler May, known for her detailed examination of Cold War politics in the 1950’s in her study Homeward Bound, further explores this weird transitional phase in a post-world war decade characterized by suburban, extreme premarital virtues, and a consumerism structure based on an outdated factory-mindset. A country built on the virtues of Cold War-us vs. them ethics, the country morphed into an ethnocentric orgasm of superfluous materialism and borderline-nationalism that continues to drag along the coattails even today.
“For a generation of young adults who grew up amid depression and war, domestic containment was a logical response to specific historical circumstances. It allowed them to pursue, in the midst of a tense and precarious world situation, the quest for a sexually-fulfilling, consumer-oriented personal life that was free from hardship. But the circumstances were different for their children, who broke the consensus surrounding the cold war and domestic containment. Whether the baby-boom children will ultimately be more successful than their parents in achieving fulfilling lives and a more just and tolerant world remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: gender, family, and national politics are still intertwined in the ongoing saga of postwar cultural change.”
Immediately upon entering the 60’s, this lifestyle met the famous clash of cultures between new and old, thought of as an extremity into human liberation, though in a longitudinal perspective, was actually a return to where the country left off.
It wasn’t until Post 9/11 America that this wave of neo-McCarthyism found itself renewed. This time, control over political agenda was driven by the baby boomer generation, the very generation trapped in the abnormal militaristic and unquestionable conservative morals that defined that 1950’s decade. It is this post-9/11 era that gave a renewal to this materialistic nationalism through ribbon magnets and "God Bless America!" recitals at major league baseball games (The “God Bless America” movement was a product of post 9/11 America).
Since then, American patriotism has become a crash course into growing division and aggression. Hidden animosity layered in patriotism became the norm of increasingly zealous conservative rhetoric, a culture immune to critical thinking, bullying over minorities, and accepted militaristic budgeting. Coming from a military family, the topic of protesting, whether the flag or an anthem, can come across with some vitriol. I commend the troops that risk their lives every day for our continued freedom, those who sacrifice their lives for the citizens of this nation, hell I owe them my life. But the problem with this as the forethought of defense against protesting the flag is purely emotional and lacks critical thought.
If one sees a problem with this country or is appalled by the malpractice by those in power, it is then the duty of that person, in honor of those who protect this country, to seek out and resolve these malpractices. And that's from the Constitution.
When Colin Kaepernick kneeled for the national anthem 14 months ago, as Shannon Sharpe recently pointed out, no one else in the NFL gave a shit, virtually no one supported him. On top of that, Colin didn’t kneel to protest the cops in the country, he didn’t kneel in protest against the troops or the flag itself. He knelt to raise awareness to the malpractices he felt, as a true American patriot, were and still to this day, appalling. He knelt as a sacrifice to his career, endangering his life, risking his piece of mind, in order to stand for something greater, an ideal many of us have been too blind to see. Now as then, allegiance to principles like that are truly aligned to Founding principles is what defines a patriotic American. No political act is more patriotic than petitioning government for that purpose. Hell, Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and even wrote how they were both biologically and cognitively inferior, yet we still have him on our currency for fuck’s sake.
A healthy sense of patriotism is embedded in the history and people, without the egotism and hostility, frankly, we do not even have that. Because, despite what the Trump administration stapled on red hats across the US, when has this country ever been great? Whether we like to admit it or not, the United States has marked off virtually every category of hateful action possible. From the extermination of Native Indians, the ignorant rhetoric of manifest destiny, the enslavement of our fellow man, institutional racism, countless cover-ups and overlooked scams across every corner of our political offices, continued sexism and maltreatment of women as objects of manipulation, malpractice of permeated Christianity in a supposedly secular nation, a failed war on drugs, America has become the bully to the world, a place where the elite control the rest by pumping excessive ideals of consumerism and superficial goals to distract and embed a society of middle class sheep falling in line. American patriotism has become a clear reflection of global ignorance, and we are only digging our grave by the tweet at this point.
This country was supposed to mean so much more and had so much potential to be great. The only question is, when are we going to start being better, not even great, we haven’t earned that yet. When will we ever start being better? When will morals of global humanism reign over wealth, over power? When will love for our common other reign over hate? Certainly not overnight, I understand this much. Regardless, a mutual stance must be made for the issues that matter in this country.
People hate out of a lack of understanding or a refusal to understand. When one refuses to understand another in this country, refuses the sympathy towards a fellow citizen, a fellow human being, that makes them ignorant. No matter your position of power, influence in the arts, or material showcase of American pride, you are not a true American unless you are willing and determined to treat every fellow person, no matter the walk of life, with the utmost respect and dignity they deserve. In laymen’s term, don’t be a dickhead.
My name is John Donegan, and I apologize for not understanding this from the beginning, at times overlooking issues in America without critical thought, for not caring for my fellow human. The Trump Administration represents the hate that still brews in this country, and I know in my heart that this hate has no place nor home, it must be fought and extinguished, to honor our troops, our fellow Americans still discriminated against today, for people like Colin Kaepernick that have been fighting the good fight longer than I have, for the idea our founding fathers had so long ago. Anyone who attempts to thwart a protest against the just, especially the president, and especially in the United States, is a danger to the common people and the common peace we have fought so hard to protect.