Random (but not really)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Patriotism, or the Lack Thereof

This was originally a response to a comment on someone’s FB post, but I decided this is something I feel strongly about, and want to say to more than someone in a comment thread:

I have seen about a zillion people getting upset over athletes protesting by kneeling during the national anthem. Honestly, I think most of it is jumping on the wagon based upon little or no thought.

Here’s what I think about it.

Consider the American flag. There was a huge issue years ago about the constitutionality of burning the flag as a form of protest. Lots of people threw fits about protestors buring flags, wanted them arrested, locked up, they key thrown away, etc.

Here’s the thing. I actually know the guidelines for flying and care of the flag.

  • The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
  • The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use.
  • The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
  • When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.
  • The flag should … displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night.

I own a flag, and I fly it on national holidays (sadly, admittedly, I often forget). When not in use that flag is ceremonially folded and stored in a safe place.

The flag and the national anthem are important and should be respected. That means making a protest using the flag or the national anthem should be done only as part of a protest or message about something the protester finds vitally important.

In the 60s and 70s that something was the Vietnam war. Currently that something is the plight of minority communities.

If you believe something strongly enough that you feel the only way to express that deeply held believe is to kneel during the national anthem or burn the flag, then you should do so. It is your right, but also, I believe, your DUTY.

I am far more offended by individuals leaving their flags out 24 x 7 unlit and uncared for because they want to be seen as “patriotic” than by someone burning the flag in political protest.

I cringe at the sight of torn and worn flags flying, because the people who are leaving them there care only about the veneer of patriotism. Literally, they want to be seen flying the flag, but they can’t be bothered to actually care for the item they are flying, or learn how to respectfully treat it.

If you believe that something is so wrong with our country that you need to burn a flag or kneel during the national anthem, then I believe it is your right–nay your moral duty–to do so. If you use the flag and the national anthem to give yourself the veneer of patriotism while acting in an utterly unpatriotic manner, that is, to me, FAR more offensive than taking a principled stand for something important to you.

Things I believe are patriotic:

  • Honoring and caring for our military veterans.
  • Voting in all elections.
  • Being aware of all the sides of political topics and making a reasoned choice based upon your deeply held beliefs rather than what looks good to those around you.

Patriotism is not spouting political rhetoric and pretending to care about an item of cloth or a song. Patriotism is how you act, based upon your fundamental beliefs about our country.

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