Your silence is not unifying our country.
Dissent is patriotic, however fewer people have been believing in this statement. Tomi Lahren is a conservative political commenter who has recently caught the public’s eye after being interviewed by Trevor Noah. She has been extremely vocal about her outrage regarding anti-Trump protesters, including Colin Kaepernick’s decision to remain seated during the National Anthem and the Black Lives Matter movement. While her controversial views have been helpful in sparking a great deal of discussion, she continues to assert in the interview that protesting is equated with disrespecting our nation. Trevor later responds to her statement about being oppressed as a woman by asking how she protests if she believes demonstrating is wrong. To that, she tells him that she does not protest because ‘she is not a victim.’
"The protesters are cry babies with nothing better to do than meander around the streets with their participation trophies and false sense of purpose... Here we are, November of 2016, in a crowd of misfit babies formed from every failed movement, all sandwiched together to become the largest group of whiners the country has ever seen." - Tomi Lahren
While she is angrier and more bluntly judgmental in her statements than most commentators, her ideas are shared by many Americans. Not only are Trump supporters exhibiting frustration with those who are demonstrating or expressing their displeasure with the result of the election, but individuals with liberal values are growing irritated as well. Several of the underlying arguments that these people express are that: protesting prevents unity; we need to move forward regardless of any one's displeasure: and since at this point there is nothing we can do, we should accept what is. I respect these opinions but completely disagree.
Americans have the legal right to protest. As the ACLU notes, we have the first amendment right to assemble peacefully, speak freely, photograph, protest publicly, and film the police. It is democratic, patriotic, and we are permitted to engage in dissent.
While a handful of demonstrators rightfully feel infuriated and disconnected to the flag, a great deal of protesters still feel connected and feel strongly attached to their country. It is stereotypically wrong to assume that if someone speaks out about their dissatisfaction with the state of our country, they do so because they hate it. A core American value is free speech. It seems that at times people only hold to this value when their beliefs are being echoed or when they can disagree from a position of safety and comfort. Unfortunately, free expression and comfort are at times mutually exclusive. Recognizing and critiquing the oppression, violation of rights, or unfair passing of laws can require highly vocal expressions of displeasure. It requires protesting; it requires criticism. Occasionally it even requires intense anger. Rather than seeing this behavior as traitorous, it should be viewed as the proper utilization of our rights as citizens of The United States.
Many protesters are likely to love their country and many may disdain it; but both are willing to challenge what they see as wrong in order to enact change. They are activists. Rather than sit at home and simply mourn what may feel like an enormous loss, they maintain hope by working to bring about change. They stand in the streets with a voice loud enough to be heard, write to senators, and in so doing, demonstrate that that they want to promote the better America that they envision.
Dissent defines who we are as Americans; it is patriotic. In silencing them, we silence those who wish to make a better America. We do not unify America by accepting the oppression of marginalized groups and allowing for certain groups to be excluded from the benefits that others have. We should not simply tolerate injustice. Protesting is the way we strive to ensure the promise of equality that way freedom can one day become a reality. Certain freedoms may be written but they must be fought for in order to be upheld. History will perpetually repeat itself unless we recognize that there is still a need for progress and that progress it not guaranteed. We must not become complacent after victories or failures. Instead, we must continue to fight.