I support veterans.
Through my company, I have volunteered my time and money to support nonprofits that provide services to veterans and veteran-owned businesses. By my count, this support has totaled roughly $20,000 in the past 4-5 years.
I feel a personal obligation to do so. People who’ve fought to protect my security and rights as a member of this country work hard, are underpaid, and confront circumstances that most of us couldn’t.
My point in bringing this up is not to brag. Donating a few score hours doesn’t compare to losing a leg to an IED or uprooting my family every few years to move to another part of the country or waiting at home raising my children while my wife is getting shot at.
However, what if my support wasn’t voluntary?
I have also been paid to create websites for businesses that happened to be veteran-owned.
I produced the product, the client was happy with it, I got paid. End of story.
Can I claim that this shows I support veterans?
What if my support was coerced?
I can’t claim that paying my taxes proves that I am patriotic.
If, by law, I had to say the pledge every morning and stand at attention, would it be a patriotic act?
Patriotism cannot be compelled, coerced or paid for to be genuine.
No one can be forced to be patriotic in this country, which is a good reason to feel patriotic about it.
Respecting the Flag and the Anthem
That an American citizen chooses to kneel in protest while the national anthem is playing has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not that person “supports the troops” or is “patriotic enough.”
The entire purpose of the military and the government is to protect its citizens’ right to say or think whatever they want.
It is un-American to squander that right of free speech granted to us by the sacrifices of our veterans – especially if we have something important to say.
The players in the NFL who choose to kneel during a patriotic display are not being un-American. They are being Americans.
I’d rather see a couple of guys kneeling or thousands marching in nonviolent protest about anything at all than watch this population descend into television-induced apathy while displaying cowed obedience to American symbols.
“But… Support the Troops!”
Two things on this –
1. “Support the troops” isn’t an argument.
Remember when people thought maybe bombing Iraq wasn’t that great an idea?
No social media, but we did have yard signs. Lots of yard signs.
Loud voices of dissent asked important questions about whether Saddam had anything to do with 9/11.
People were talking about getting out of Iraq.
Then some brilliant PR mind came up with “Support the troops.”
If someone said there was no proof of WMDs, they weren’t supporting the troops.
If a senator wondered how we’d pay for all those bombs, he wasn’t supporting the troops.
If you thought that maybe “collateral damage” was killing people that didn’t deserve to be killed, you weren’t supporting the troops.
These three words were used as a weapon against free thought.
Of course individual members of the military and their families should be supported. That support is not mutually exclusive with disagreement about foreign or domestic policy.
2. Our military men and women are hardcore.
They’ve seen a hell of a lot worse than somebody failing to be respectful to a flag. The military men and women I’ve met have been down to earth and not easily rattled.
To think they’d be offended by a simple protest is a denigration of their strength.
A short and terribly simplistic American history
Capital “A” America (hot dogs, apple pie, and a bad ass eagle mascot) was founded by people sick of the king’s shit. They fought and died to found a country based on the principles outlined in the constitution.
Eventually we figured out that slavery wasn’t real good, and kicked some ass to straighten that out.
Then we decided, after protests by a bunch of unruly women, that women could vote too.
Then we killed over 5 million Germans because their leader was a prick who thought that ethnic cleansing was awesome. Victory!
Then we napalmed and bombed the shit out of Southeast Asia because we were afraid of Communists, which wasn’t a real good reason, and people protested to persuade the government to end it.
At the same time, a lot of people marched in the streets, gave speeches, and did scary dissident things like sit at the wrong spot at a lunch counter to make the point that it was probably ok for black and white people to do crazy things together like get married, ride on the same bus, or swim in the same swimming pool.
Capital “A” America isn’t hurt by nonviolent protest and free speech. It is made stronger by it.
What can hurt America? Real “Capital A,” don’t fuck with us, screaming eagle, 4th of July America?
Considering that these are covered by the Bill of Rights, people should speak out against these things. It would be un-American not to.
- Poor thinking
We now know that Russian spies bought $100,000 of Facebook ads to attempt to influence the presidential election.
What. The. Actual. Fuck? Why is that even a thing?
$100,000 buys a ton of Facebook clicks.
Why would presumably red-blooded true American patriots, interested in American politics, be duped into buying Russian propaganda, “liking” and “sharing” it?
I think the Russians realized that when we get online, we lose 47.3 IQ points.
We share the things that make us mad or that support our views, we aggressively prune opposing viewpoints from our news feeds, and declare that any data, true or false, that supports a viewpoint we don’t like as “fake news.”
We act like toddlers on a school yard yelling at each other. We piss our pants in anger at the other little guy screaming at us, but we don’t use our words.
We fall prey to rhetorical tricks that have been known and used for thousands of years.
We all need to take a refresher course in how to think. My personal favorite is “Thank You For Arguing” by Jay Heinrichs.
A component of this is being unwilling to read or find out about an opposing view or facts without bias.
Are we so delicate that we can’t stand to read a few pages of opposing view and give it some honest reflection?
- Doing nothing
We often see an article or a comment that rouses us to take action.
The blood starts boiling, or we tear up a bit.
Then post pics of the Eiffel Tower to show our support and we feel a little better. MAYBE WE POST OUR POINT OF VIEW IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.
But what actual impact did we have there?
I know that we’re all inundated by vast numbers of news items, causes, and people that can cause these reactions. It can be overwhelming.
What if instead we did our research and really threw some time and money and effort into the causes that would change the things that made us angry?
The average American Facebook user is on the site for 40 minutes a day. That’s nearly 6 hours a week.
What if we took half that time and donated it to a cause?
The impact we have is directly proportional to time and money invested.
If we did this, I think we’d all feel better, like each other a bit more, and maybe – just maybe – we’d create a better world.