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Column: Is It Patriotism Or Nationalism You Want?

The Trickle Down

The Trickle Down is Salute Magazine‘s weekly column by Political Writer Amanda Godula.  The Trickle Down is a weekly look into what’s need-to-know, fresh takes on trends, and the inevitable controversies from the political arena. Let’s dig in and see what’s happening this week.

If you just want football players to be athletes, maybe we shouldn’t have elected a reality TV star as president.

Colin Kaepernick has been the center of NFL controversy and he’s no longer in the league.  Kaepernick knelt for the national anthem during the 2016 season and lots of people commented on his disrespect or lack of patriotism.  Lots.  But, the underlying cause of racism in America has been largely ignored.  Until now – and we can thank President Donald Trump for that.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired… When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they are playing our great national anthem. The only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium, I guarantee things will stop. Things will stop. Just pick up and leave,” Trump said at an Alabama rally last week.

And with that speech, he opened the floodgates for open protests, politicizing football.  The topic: what does patriotism look like?

Trump, among many others, are citing kneeling as disrespectful to our flag, and in turn, our military.  If you stand, you are a true patriot.  So, you stand.

But, we’re the “Land of the Free” and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the freedom of expression and the right to protest – doesn’t that mean peaceful protest and expression are truly patriotism?

It doesn’t seem like the unpatriotic kneeling is about patriotism at all – it’s about nationalism.  It doesn’t matter what Kaepernick said or what it was about, it is his American right to protest his country, regardless of how popular it is.

American politics is founded on granting freedoms where other countries lack that idealism.  Forcing one idea of patriotism onto America is mimicking a nationalistic country we are familiar country we all know – North Korea; a country that tells you what patriotism is and how to follow what the country allows.  In other words, nationalism.

That’s what this is – nationalism.  Blindly supporting in the name of patriotism because your government says so.  Nationalism.  Not patriotism.  Sorry, Mr. President – you’ve got this one wrong.

Before we get to the, “the military fought for this country and kneeling disrespects them” – let’s explore.  Our military fought for our freedoms and deserve respect.  So let’s respect them.  Why not enact the freedoms they fought for?  Isn’t that truly honoring the sacrifice?

Also, the flag is not the military.  The anthem is not the military.  They both can symbolize the military but are truly symbolic of American ideals.  Those ideals can be different for each person.  To some that means the military, and to some it means the injustices they face daily.  All of these ideals include freedom of expression with which you disagree.  And, ironically, the creators were not in the military; they were non-military Americans.  Should we label them unpatriotic because they didn’t serve this country during its founding days?  I imagine anyone who says yes needs to check his/her patriotism at the door.

Betsy Ross and Francis Scott Key are patriots because they helped form Americanism.  Colin Kaepernick is patriotic, and still teaching us a little about its bounds.  And thanks to the many in the NFL, Kaepernick’s kneeling is making a bigger statement about a broader topic; something he probably intended.

If you don’t like the true freedom of expression of patriotism, then, I hear Pyongyang might be interested in defectors.

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