I’m a veteran and I am not offended by Colin Kaepernick and other athletes refusal to stand during the national anthem. It’s their First Amendment right to engage in peaceful protest and I support that. It should also be noted that I have not given them permission to offend me. I cannot be offended with my consent.
“Patriotism means being loyal to your country all the time and to its government when it deserves it.” – Mark Twain.
With that in mind, I don’t feel he’s being disrespectful. He is is protesting what he sees as the institutionalized wrongs being done against people of color in this country. It doesn’t matter that he, himself, is not being oppressed. What matters is that he feels compassion and empathy for those who are being treated wrongly by the system. His protest has nothing to do with veterans, those who have died in service to the country, or with anyone currently serving in the military.
The “American” values that many of those who are offended hold so dear apply to all Americans without regard to race, color, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual preference, or any other arbitrary criteria, Equal protection and opportunity under the law applies to everyone.
Patriotism is more than waving the flag and supporting the military and veterans. The military exists to support national policy as set by the President and backed by Congress. Sometimes national policy is in defense of freedom and the American way but more often it is to defend American political and economic interests. I am not convinced that most of the men and women in the military today are actively defending our freedom. Rather, they are following orders based on political and economic interests .
The greatest threats to our freedoms and liberties are not Islamic states and terrorist groups in some distant corner of the world. The greatest threats are to be found within our borders and they are not illegal immigrants, refugees, Muslims, or LGBTQ people. The real threats to our freedom are the very people we have elected to represent and lead us. They feel that they no longer need to be held accountable to their constituencies, the people who actually go to the polls and elect them. Instead, they pander to special interests, multi-national corporations, Wall Street tycoons, political parties, and the richest of the rich.
It is time to hold them accountable. We need to question their policies and their agendas. If they are not representing our interests, then it is out responsibility to remove them from office through the ballot box. Educate yourselves on the bills that are before Congress and the state legislatures. Monitor their voting records. Write and call their offices. Make your voices heard. Base your votes on how well they represent you, not whether they are Republicans or Democrats. If they’re not doing their job, then vote someone else in. We, the voters, have to power to set term limits.