Thoughts with Richard Bleil
Sometimes I wonder if people who call themselves patriots are doing so ironically. All too often, the deeds of people who call themselves patriots don’t seem to match their actions. For example, a mob of “patriots” tried to protect the Constitution by trying to start an insurrection at the US Capitol in an effort to overthrow the Constitution. They were following the calls of a man who would make himself the first American Czar claiming the elections were rigged. The “patriots” seemed to have forgotten that our Constitution set up a series of checks and balances (that seem out of balance right now) and chose to follow the word of just the Presidential branch of our government to bring down the other two. That’s not patriotism.
Curiously, although I never really put it together until right now, my first brush with Un-American Patriotism came in my high school home room in a very strange event that showed that patriots often do not really think about what they are doing. See, the courts had decided that, indeed, it was acceptable to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school, but only if it was voluntary. This was 1980, and what we discovered was that the older the class, the more participation in the pledge there was. In Freshman classes, it was rare that anybody stood for the pledge, but in senior classes, such as mine, nearly everybody participated.
In my home room, there was just one student who sat it out. She was a foreign exchange student from Sweden, a very sweet and quiet young lady, who would respectfully sit throughout the pledge. One day, one of my “American” classmates challenged her, angrily saying that she “needed” to stand for the pledge. Now, I’ve never been one to stand up to bullies, but the irony was really just too much for me to take, so I defended her (along with…oh, wait, nobody else).
“She’s not pledging allegiance because she’s Swedish, not American,” I explained. “It would be disrespectful and hypocritical for her to recite the pledge.” (How much of this is verbatim I don’t really know as it was just a few years ago, but I do know that the sentiment was there in what I did say.)
“She STILL should say it,” he retorted angrily.
Clearly, he was a “patriot” in the modern sense of the word. He would stand and speak the words of the pledge, but obviously did not understand them. I respected her for not saying the pledge because she respected the pledge, and her host country, even if the “American patriot” didn’t. In his defense, I do believe that he honestly believed he was a patriot, but clearly, he just never really thought about what the words in the pledge mean.
I respect football players who respect and understand their freedoms and rights (and disrespect for them) and choose to kneel during the National Anthem than I do the idiots who chastise and punish them because they don’t understand the right to free speech and protest. I respect the (mostly peaceful) protesters that took to the street to bring focus to police brutality far more than I do the “patriots” who violently and malice of forethought tried to take over the Capitol to destroy the American government. And I respect my Swedish friend for her actions far more than the American that couldn’t see why that was an act of respect for our flag by a foreign student.
Today, we see people driving around flying flags off of their enormous fume belching smelly pickup trucks claiming to be patriots. Ironically, it’s not uncommon for them to fly the American flag on one side, and the Confederate flag on the other, somehow not understanding the incongruity of the two. Siding with the rebels in the Civil War is standing against the US Constitution, plain and simple. No, that’s not patriotism.
But to be fair, there are those who take patriotism too far as well. We’re seeing a rise in people who honestly believe that if it’s not explicitly written in the Constitution, then it’s not Constitutional. The Constitution was ratified 234 years ago in 1788. By the logic that if it’s not in the Constitution then it’s not Constitutional means that electricity and indoor plumbing in not Constitutional. The authors of the Constitution had the foresight to understand that they couldn’t write a single document that covers everything, and certainly not one that can cover future progress. Instead, it’s a framework, just a framework, allowing for laws to be written. In my opinion, the recent SC decision was a mistake in claiming that women’s rights are not protected simply because they’re not in the Constitution, but now it’s time for Congress to pick up the banner and finally formalize the rights of women by passing a law to that effect. And for the love of God, let’s make “patriots” take a damned class.