Categories
Commentary Uncategorized

Don’t Equate Protest With Disrespect

President Donald Trump catapulted the issue of growing numbers of athletes opting to “take a knee” during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner before their contests further into the limelight this past weekend, jumping in on the side of the hyper-patriotic conservative reactionaries who have been, predictably, popping gaskets over this form of protest since former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick first decided to sit out the anthem around this time last year. Trump spewed a typically vindictive, smirking and self-satisfied incitement, urging NFL owners to respond to protests by terminating any player who dares to take a knee.

“Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired,'” Trump said. “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country.”

The president doubled down on Twitter Saturday afternoon.

“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL,or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect. … our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

I wanted to write about this, but where to start? A sitting President who, already widely accused of white nationalist proclivities, profanely demands the revocation of fundamental rights for a prominent group of predominantly black young men who dare to speak up for a righteous cause? The now-customary Trump tactic of purposefully throwing a polarizing, divisive tantrum on the heels a a particularly bad news week? The pride-inspiring response of the NFL which, from top to bottom, demonstrated an admirable front of solidarity?

No, what gets me is the cheap rhetorical trick of equating the flag with veterans, and common protest with disrespect for veterans–a false equivalency that trivializes both the symbol of our nation and the men and women who have stood up to defend it or, too often, project its ideological will.

If one insists on waxing symbolic over the stars and stripes, it is compulsory to understand that the flag stands for so much more than military service, representing the core values–the unrealized ideals–upon which this nation was founded. Not just what we are, but what we purport to be, what we must aspire to be. Chief among these is free speech, particularly free speech in dissent.

The glory of the flag is that even the most disrespectful act against it as a symbol and, by extension, the institutions it represents, is turned into a sign of the strength. A protester burning a flag is at once showing her anger and disappointment while simultaneously demonstrating the freedoms the flag represents. In burning the flag, one proves its inviolability. You can’t really destroy the flag–burning its fibers only proves what it is supposed to stand for.

The flag does not need defense against committed young men who kneel before it to express their legitimate frustration and discontent in an inherently gentle act. Indeed, the flag protects them like a shield. In the same way, our veterans do not need to be protected from peaceful citizens who clasp hands, take a knee, and bow their heads quietly. Those veterans fought to preserve the right for these men to do so and, what’s more, both flag and fighting men and women are stronger than an imagined insult.

Categories
Commentary Quote

Quotes From The Other Side #2: George Pullman

“You give workers only as much as they basically need to survive. Thriving is something that management should do and that workers don’t have a right to do.”
–George Pullman

Categories
Commentary

How To Determine If Your Religious Liberty Is Being Threatened?

Here’s the official Chuck Junk read of the day…

How to Determine If Your Religious Liberty Is Being Threatened in Just 10 Quick Questions

Rev. Emily C. Heath Clergy, United Church of Christ

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-emily-c-heath/how-to-determine-if-your-religious-liberty-is-being-threatened-in-10-questions_b_1845413.html

Categories
Uncategorized

Belated Congratulations: Hawaii, Illinois and….

art.same.sex.marriage.gi

Hawaii and Illinois recently moved on legislation that will make them the 15th and 16th states to end discrimination against same-sex couples who wish to marry.  To them I say, “congratulations–it’s about damn time.”

I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t wish politics to intrude too heavily on this blog–not that I’m shy about my views, which pretty much amount to conservatives thinking I’m a godless liberal, and liberals thinking I’m some sort of–well, they don’t know–like a Kraken or something, a beast from the deep eager to eat up (sacred) cows and the village children whole and raw.  The thing is, marriage shouldn’t be a political topic. It’s a human thing.  We live in times of war, violence, and hatred across so many lines–social, ethnic, religious, political–who are we to deny the full measure of whatever love others might squeeze from our shriveled husk of a society?

For half of my life I didn’t give much thought to homophobia beyond a sort of smug, thoughtless disdain, but a series of acquaintances with gay folks gave me pause to consider their lives beyond the general.  I don’t know what I expected, but I quickly realized that most of their lives were exactly like mine, except for the part where a small but loud segment of the population despised them for no other reason than who they happened to love.

And that made a lot of sense?

One day I asked a friend of mine what she thought about the whole “homosexuality is a lifestyle choice” argument that was then the rant du jour of conservatives, particularly Christians.  She laughed bitterly, “the last time I went home, my parents prayed for me to find my way back from sin. At the dinner table. In high school I was Most Likely To Succeed and Valedictorian, now I’m the lesbian.  People point at me in the grocery store.  If I took someone I loved back there, it might not be safe to walk down the street holding hands.  She surely wouldn’t be welcome in my parents’ home.  I’m not ashamed about who I am, but there are times when I feel like I was seeded at the back of the pack, you know?  That’s nature–but would I choose it?  Are you kidding? I envy straight people, you put your arm around your girlfriend and walk down the street and everyone smiles and thinks: ah, young love!  How sweet!  I get obscene and demeaning catcalls and McDonald’s milkshakes thrown at me.”

phyllis-lyon-and-del-martin-in-2004This shot of the wedding of  Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin is one of my favorite pictures, not only because deep beneath my scaly, misanthropic crust I’m a romantic who cries at the end of Miracle on 34th Street and Love, Actually every god-damned Christmas, but because–hell, I don’t even need to say it.  Look at the way they look at each other!

And yet, by conservative ideology, these two are a grave threat to “traditional” marriage–like the three sacred, holy matrimonies Newt Gingrich has enjoyed.  Now, I can’t speak for those conservatives, but my wife and I aren’t afraid our marriage will be undermined by a GAY MARRIAGE OPPONENT HOLDS SIGN IN PROTEST OUTSIDE STATEHOUSEcouple of old women with matching rings.  I’m not even afraid of those leather people at the Folsom Street Fair.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I live in rural Pennsylvania and had to look that up on google–but doesn’t the reference make me sound, I dunno, uh, worldly?) I am, however afraid of this guy to the right, mostly because he reminds me a lot of what I’ve heard from these guys:

kkk

They thought God was on their side, too.  In fact, here are some quotes for you:

“Nature’s law, which is a creation of YAHWEH, dictates that kind reproduce after kind. The different people of the world were never supposed to mix. Even the different animals and species of our world practice natures law of reproduction “Kind after Kind”…

(Our) belief on homosexuality is not homophobic, but like all subjects, it’s based on our biblical beliefs. So what does the bible teach us about these perverted lifestyles. In Leviticus 18:22 we read “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind it is abomination.” Also in Leviticus 20:13 “If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination, they shall surely be put to death, their blood shall be upon them.” In Deuteronomy 23:17 we read “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.”.

Its extremely clear what our Father in heaven has to say about homosexuals. Other Old Testament verses on the subject can be found in 1 Kings 14:24 and 15:12, II Kings 23:7, Isaiah 3:9 and Jeremiah 23:14. There are more verses in the Bible on this subject, but I think I have made my point. Some say the New Testament does not address homosexuality at all. So, let us read 1 Corinthians 6:9 “No ye not that the unrightous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.” Also in Jude 7, Romans 1:22-32 and 1 Timothy 1:10. By the way, for those that don’t know the meaning of the word effeminate it means a man that takes on the characteristics of a woman.

So, as you can see, if any Judeo-Christian minister does not preach against homosexuality, he is a liar and a deceiver. Homosexuality, like a cancer, must be cut out of our society or it will grow until it kills the body, like a cancer. This is not the words of (this essay), this is the word of Yahweh.”

Sound familiar?  I hope not, because it is lifted directly from a KKK propaganda tract–though I just read some very similar words from a Baptist minister whose church is 10 minutes from my doorstep.

So, with that in mind, to the remaining states, I say:  Who’s Got Next?