All this talk about patriotism lately is making me crazier than any woman ever has.
From attacking Gabby Douglas for not putting her hand over her heart during the National Anthem at the Olympics, to burning Colin Kaepernick’s jersey because he refused to stand during the same song at a football game, I’m starting to wonder if people understand the meaning of the word “freedom.”
Of course, I can only speak for myself.
My patriotism isn’t unconditional, and it isn’t static. I am proud of this country at times, and disgusted more than I would like to be. To me, patriotism is like virginity — it is a construct designed by people who tell us we should all behave a certain way and live our lives along the same vein.
It also tends to be touted by people who don’t see the hypocrisy in their words and actions.
For example, a lot of folks I see on social media whining about Kaepernick’s protest are saying he was disrespectful to veterans and to the American flag. Yet, these are the same people who 1) plan to vote for Donald Trump, who has been very vocally disrespectful to families of veterans and 2) don’t understand why people believe the Confederate flag is racist and disrespectful to black Americans.
Not standing in direction of one flag during song with hand placed on proper body part = unpatriotic, disrespectful.
Waving another flag once used to promote the idea of one’s right to enslave people = proud of heritage, totally not disrespectful at all.
(Also, Donald Trump didn’t place his hand over his heart during the National Anthem at a CNN debate. Yet, again, the same people whining about Gabby and Colin are most definitely the same people voting for Trump. What is different about Gabby and Colin from a man like Donald Trump? Don’t think too hard, guys.)
The same thing goes for prayers held at public or government events. I am not religious. Why would I bow my head and join in on a religious act to a God I do not believe in when there is this thing called “separation of church and state?” Because you say so? Because it’s a symbolic moment for you, therefore it must be just as powerful and meaningful to me?
Well, in my house, I have a rose quartz by my bed because it evokes self-love and it is a spiritual symbol for me, so if you don’t do the same thing, you are disrespecting me and my tradition.
Just kidding. You’re not.
I respect everyone’s right to be religious and to participate in religious ceremonies. I also respect people who enjoy the symbolism behind removing one’s hat at a baseball game during the National Anthem. And I expect the same respect in return.
Wearing a hat, not wearing a hat, standing up, sitting down, putting your right hand in or your left hand out — none of these things unequivocally equate respect for one’s country or enormous amounts of patriotism brewing in your heart.
And in general, doesn’t this nation have bigger fish to fry? Don’t we have real problems?
Someone exercising the right this flag gave them by protesting that very flag, or Beyonce using her art as a form of raising awareness about social issues she cares about — these are not problems.
What are some real problems we have?
Poverty, war, climate change, racism, failing school systems — these are things to fight back against, to use your voice to speak out about, to showcase your so-called patriotism by putting it into action.
Whatever your version of patriotism is, just use it for good, not for stirring up a pot that doesn’t need stirred.
*Now, queue the trolls!