In my heart of hearts, I know there must be things happening in the world that do not have the name of our president draped around them. There must be. I have a hard time finding them, but I believe they must be out there somewhere.
Football? No, no. That won’t work. But that brings to mind something that happened in Connecticut U.S.A, the Constitution State. Haddam Connecticut selectwoman Melissa Schlag “took a knee” at the onset of last week’s council meeting, during the pledge of allegiance. This constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of expression drove some people insane. Treason! Traitor! How dare you! It makes me nostalgic for the days when they simply called us Commies.
Predictably, right-wing websites went nuts. As of this writing, they haven’t stopped. Schlag proved there are people out to destroy everything that makes this nation great and – get this – she isn’t even Muslim! Well, maybe she’s a closet Muslim. You know, just like President Barack Obama.
Was it disrespectful? Well, it certainly was to Donald Trump, the most maliciously and purposely ignorant president in American history. He has conflated the action of taking a knee with loathing of our armed forces, assaulting the flag, and, lowest of the low, being a Democrat.
It’s amazing how much money you can make by being a professional idiot.
The reason we have our armed forces is to protect those very freedoms that we all enjoy as well as those we might not like. Some right-wingers want to mitigate our freedom of expression. Some left-wingers want to mitigate our freedom of self-defense. This is what our flag represents: our freedoms, our morality. Our vision of a better society and the right to debate the very definition of a better society. These conflicts are what makes us… us.
Melissa Schlag did not take a shit on the American flag. She heroically showed the courage of her convictions, knowing full well how her action would be received by those whose definition of patriotism is limited to jingoism. The pseudonymous cowards that take these hysterical potshots at her from out of the internet are cowards.
Some of them are cowards with guns, but having those guns is their constitutionally protected right. And Ms. Schlag, a true American hero, has her constitutionally protected rights just the same. If you don’t like her opinions – or even her hair color – vote against Melissa Schlag if she runs for reelection or for future office. That is the American Way.
Back in the day, the common response to such protests was “America. Love it or leave it.” To this, many of us responded “America. Fix it or lose it.” It turns out America was not fixed, and it’s beginning to look like we are losing it.
Our leaders have isolated us from our allies all over the world while crawling into bed with dictators who represent everything that is un-American. We kidnap the children of people who come to this nation legally seeking asylum or, at the very worst, might be guilty of a misdemeanor. That’s akin to the government firebombing your house because you got a parking ticket.
We allow our police force to murder unarmed black children because, being black children, they are considered a threat and it’s okay for police to shoot those they, at the time, consider to be threats.
We pay absolutely no attention to that other First Amendment provision, freedom of religion, because we define America as some sort of Christian nation. As a matter of constitutional edict, America is not a Christian nation – and if it is, then America is saying some real horrible stuff about Christianity.
Thankfully, America is not a Christian nation. We claim to freedom of religion, we’re just not very good at it. But don’t try to tell the likely next president of the United States about that.
Mike Pence just might take away your children and burn down your house.