More On What Respecting Our Country Means

We have had a great back-and-forth (in the comment section of “Similar Message, Different Reactions”) over an NFL quarterback refusing to stand during the playing of our national anthem, as a form of protest against what he sees as mistreatment of African-Americans by some police officers around the country. You should read the exchanges in full. And rather than further respond to each comment individually, here is my general response:

To all:

Regarding the spirited discussion we have had over the Colin Kaepernick issue, I just want to make my position clear to everyone and make a final point at the end.

Saluting the flag, or putting your hand over your heart during the national anthem, does not make anyone, soldier or civilian, a patriot. Both soldiers and civilians can follow convention and go through the motions of respecting the symbols important to most Americans and still dishonor the things the symbols are supposed to symbolize—for instance when soldiers give away national secrets or when civilian politicians with American flag lapel pins deny voting rights to African-Americans.

Likewise, not saluting the flag, or refusing to place hand over heart during the Star Spangled Banner, does not, in itself, make one a traitor either literally or figuratively. In fact, in the right context, such acts can express real respect for what those symbols are suppose to represent by calling attention to the fact that the country is failing to live up to its ideals. It may not be the way I would personally go about making that point, but it is within the realm of legitimate expression as an American in good standing.

Now, having said that, there is a point to be made about how effective such speech, as Colin Kaepernick’s actions represent, is in terms of accomplishing his goal. Just as there is a point to be made about how effective Donald Trump’s message about the godawful country he wants to govern is in terms of accomplishing his goal. Each of us will evaluate the effectiveness of Kaepernick’s and Trump’s tactics differently, depending on our preferences and prejudices and experiences. That’s how it should be.

I do want to go further, though. Let’s say that Kaepernick, rather than sitting down during the national anthem, decided to hold up his middle finger toward the flag during the anthem. Obviously, that is a different kind of message. Rather than sending the message that the country has ideals it is not living up to, he would seemingly be sending the message that the country has no ideals worth respecting at all. At least that’s what the message would mean to me. And I think such a message would do great damage to any legitimate cause Kaepernick might be championing.

Trump lapel pinWhich leads me to this election. I want to put all this in the context of the political battle for the presidency of the United States. Donald Trump’s words about the country, including trashing it constantly, cozying up to Russia and asking it to commit espionage against another American, and then making a bold statement that he and only he can fix its “rigged” system, is closer to someone giving the finger to the flag than someone sitting in silence while the anthem is playing. So, if we want to seriously evaluate what is going on with Kaepernick and Trump, in terms of how each is expressing views about contemporary America, Trump is the real disrespectful asshole in this saga.

Duane

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25 Comments

  1. I, for one, would like to hear what the black Chiefs of Police in Dallas and Chicago think of Kaepernick’s stunt.

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    • Jim,

      I’m not sure if you used the word “stunt” as a pejorative or just a way of expressing the idea that what he did he obviously did for attention. In any case, sure it would add to the conversation to hear the opinions of the men you mentioned. But let’s remember that such men are not without their institutional biases, no matter their ethnicity. By nature, the law enforcement profession tends toward conservatism and extraordinary reverence for authority. And in that context it is also important to keep in mind that it’s not just white cops that, in questionable circumstances, kill black suspects or perceived suspects, particularly young black men.

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      • Duane,

        What you say is all true, but nevertheless I was meaning “stunt” in both senses you mention when I wrote that. What he did is antithetical to everything I feel about my country. I am not sure anyone in our recent conversation understood what I meant when I said that the problem, i.e., racial profiling by police, is cultural and not organizational. Let me try to clarify. Kaepernick, as I understand him, is resentful that that “his country” has failed to correct the problem and therefore refuses to publicly respect it. Now obviously you can not pass a law that will banish prejudice and bigotry. I know that you know, from these blogs if nothing else, that changing such things takes generational efforts.

        I don’t for a minute deny that CK is in his rights to do what he’s doing. The country and its Constitution guarantee that right, and that is what makes it so absurd to me. He is hurting his own cause, in my opinion. Young black men need models that stand for unity, not resentment against proper authority. Models like Colin Powell and Barack Obama, for example.

        Forget for a moment the opinions of black police chiefs. Let’s speculate on what MLK would say, in the context of his “dream” speech. Personally, I think he would agree with me.

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        • Jim,

          I’m a little uncomfortable being in even a little disagreement with you, such is my respect for your opinion. But here I think I would challenge something you said, even as I understand, as best a person never in the military can understand, why you are so passionate about defending your position.

          You wrote,

          He is hurting his own cause, in my opinion. Young black men need models that stand for unity, not resentment against proper authority. Models like Colin Powell and Barack Obama, for example.

          My main problem with what you said is with the use of the term “proper authority.” The reason is that the core issue here has to do with just what is the proper authority. Black people, just like everyone else, understand authority and the need for it and the need to respect it. But they also understand, just like everyone else should, that in order to respect such authority, it has to be worthy of respect. Obviously, none of us would expect a black man or woman to respect the authority of, say, the Jim Crow South. That was an egregious example of improper authority and black people had every right, no, they had a duty as human beings, to reject such authority, and so did white people, although many failed to do so.

          The problem here is with the method of expressing a rejection of what some consider to be improperly acting authorities. You mention MLK. I don’t pretend to definitely know what he would think about Kaepernick’s method of protest. I can only quote something he said in his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail that he addressed to a group of white religious leaders who criticized his methods of resisting improper authority:

          Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

          You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

          He also, famously, said:

          I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

          Now, as I said, I can’t definitively extrapolate from the quotes above, and from the letter in general, what might be King’s position on Kaepernick’s method of arousing “the conscience of the community over its injustice.” Maybe he would think, like you do, that it was counterproductive. But I think it is reasonable to speculate that King might say, here in 2016 with evidence of continuing social structures that are harming black people, that not standing for the playing of the national anthem and not paying tribute to the flag “is in reality” an expression of respect for what the symbols are suppose to symbolize. I don’t think that kind of response is beyond imagining.

          In any case, that is how I see the issue, even as I appreciate your passion and the thoughtfulness with which you express it.

          Duane

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        • King Beauregard

           /  September 1, 2016

          “Young black men need models that stand for unity, not resentment against proper authority.”

          Depends on whether you consider proper authority to be a positive force on your side.

          One thing that sometimes puzzles whites is why blacks are loathe to involve the police in crimes until matters have gone completely to hell. It’s because of the very real worry that the police could make matters infinitely worse; if you do call the police, flip a coin and hope it comes up “heads”. As a white guy I see the police as a force for order and justice, but if I were black I might see them as a capricious band of toughs appointed to engage in random unpredictable behavior (sometimes benevolent but also sometimes destructive) by society at large. I’m not sure how I’d ever find my way to unity with that.

          Is helpful perspective:

          http://verysmartbrothas.com/from-mike-brown-to-simone-biles-yesterday-was-a-perfect-synopsis-of-black-americas-complicated-relationship-with-america/

          “This is what is it to be Black in America. It’s a perpetual state of ambiguity and ambivalence. Of dual consciousness and cognitive dissonance. Of cursing it and cheering for it within the same hour span. Sometimes within the same sentence. The same breath. Of recognizing the beauty and the power and the potential of our country and wishing to exalt in it while simultaneously wanting someone to come and burn it the fuck down.

          “It’s…complicated.”

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          • <blockquoteIt’s…complicated.”

            It sure is. I read your link. I would like to think that the majority of police departments in our country are worthy of respect and that the incidents on the evening news are relatively rare, but I know also that racial bias runs deep in many places. As I have noted elsewhere, I think the problem is more cultural than organizational, but progress is being made. Of course, if I got pulled over every week because of my skin color, I’d be mad as hell too. Sigh.

            Doesn’t change my mind about CK though. He is being perceived, as I predicted, as attacking the very source of the cure for the problem.

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  2. Anonymous

     /  August 30, 2016

    When you can assure me that the flag you are wanting me to salute is made in America (not China) then we can have a conversation! Leave the guy alone!!

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  3. Anonymous

     /  August 30, 2016

    Let me tell you about a black Army veteran of WWII in my hometown. He served and was discharged honorably, and upon returning to my hometown of Jayton, Texas, opened an auto repair shop. I spent time with him and talked freely on many matters as there were less than 1000 residents in our farm community. I knew him as Jack, though his name was Olia Cornell Jackson.

    I was shocked one day when a successful cotton farmer, that I had hoed cotton for, came into his shop and said, “Nigger Jack, I need my truck fixed now to get my steers to market.” There were other vehicles in the shop, but Jack promptly replied, “Yes, sir.” I asked Jack, knowing he was a Army Sergeant, why he put up with such crap, knowing he could have easily beaten the man down if he wanted. He informed me that after the killing that went on in that war, name calling was petty. This was during the Vietnam War, when protests were going on everywhere, and he said every man has a right to their opinion, but it don’t make it right.

    Jack and his wife, Viola, were church goers and respected by most of the community, as they were honest and both as successful as most folks. I left the area in 1975 and didn’t return until 2000 for a reunion. I went to the cemetery where my grandfather was buried, and noticed that Jack had died in 1997. The cemetery was squared with roads in straight lines. Instead of burying Jack in the cemetery proper, the road had been curved around his grave to keep him separate from the white folks. This was 1997 not 1860, and Viola lived until 2001 when she passed and was buried by his side. She spent the last four years of her life knowing the community’s lack of respect for this veteran.

    My younger brother and his wife and daughter adopted an African-American baby that’s same year, and since that time, I have been hyper-active when I hear racial slurs. Duane is correct that’s we have progressed, but racism is alive and well. There can be no doubt that our militarized police have increased shootings of these Americans, be it racism or the ignorance of police tactics illustrated by the Tamir Rice killing. My point is that Kaepernick is correct, even if you don’t agree with his method of getting his point heard. It is as Jack stated, disrespect of ones person or iconic symbol is just petty, and nothing to fight over.

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    • I appreciate you sharing that amazing story, which is, unfortunately, an amazing American story. Just one example among countless injustices that Americans have inflicted on each other and those they consider outside the American family.

      I have been doing some reading on the Mexican-American War. I remained stunned by the “most unjust” war “ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.” Those were the words of President Ulysses S. Grant, who had done his duty and served in the war but recognized how corrupt its beginning and its end was. The more I ponder our history as a country, the more I see the real progress we have made. Paradoxically, the more I ponder our history as a country, the more I fear the future. Just as an example, the authoritarian and self-righteous spirit that embraced the immoral “Manifest Destiny” is still with us today. And clearly that spirit is being strengthened by the advent of a character like Donald Trump, even if, voters willing, he loses in November. That spirit, which is dominant in the Deep South and in rural America elsewhere, scares me.

      People are right to protest the injustices they see in the country they call home. We should expect good and thoughtful people to do so. Such resistance is, after all, also part of our heritage. We were founded in protest, for God’s sake. Hopefully we will continue to see such protests today conducted peacefully, unlike those that ushered in what we know today as the American experiment. 

      In the mean time, again thanks for sharing that sad American story.

      Duane

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      • Anonymous

         /  August 31, 2016

        Duane,

        I appreciate your response. I think “Jack” Jackson a true American hero. He went into war for a country with Jim Crow laws that prevented his right to drink water from the same fountain as whites. Laws that didn’t permit him to vote, assemble with white people, and if a black man lived with a white woman could face years in prison. This remained the case, after his service to country, until the Civil Rights Act in 1964. I know of few white Americans that exhibit the honor Jack’s example set for all Americans.

        I do not claim to not be racist, I try, but have caught myself in large cities thinking as a racist might. Every time I think myself or our nation as having made good progress, I Google Earth my hometown. When I follow the northernmost road there one mile west and look at that cemetery. I realize that just a few years ago, an American hero was treated with such disrespect.

        I fear Trump is taking our nation backwards with his racist views, and the numbers of Americans that support him are only perpetuating the problem. Trump avoided the Vietnam War, getting deferment after deferment. He does not exhibit honor, courage, or the selflessness that Jack exhibited in war or at home. It is highly perplexing to understand the people who support his agenda.

        I do not pretend to know what Jack might have thought of Colin Kaepernick, but I do know he would have respected his opinion, even if he didn’t agree with it. I am fairly sure he would not have chastised him for such. I can only hope my nephew exhibits the courage, grace, and understanding for our country that Jack Jackson gave us.

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        • Mr. Jackson, especially the way you have paid tribute to him, is worthy of the status you give him, no doubt. People these days fail to appreciate the contributions that African-Americans made to the war effort during an era in which their own country generally treated them like third and fourth class citizens. It really is amazing, when you think about it.

          As far as Trump “taking our nation backwards,” I am holding onto a stubborn hope. Sure, there are those who are following him like cultists, and there are those who are using him and his followers for their own political gain. But remember this: most people, when polled, find him highly offensive. Most of his ideas are not widely popular and a fairly large majority of people reject him as a potential leader. We do have to worry, though, about those third party candidates who can make a Trump presidency possible, if Clinton can’t convince enough Republicans to cross over. (After arguing with a number of them, I have given up on those left-wing voters who think Jill Stein is a wise and “moral” choice; they hate Hillary more than anyone on the right, it seems to me.)

          So, what I am saying is that it is possible that Trump can win the presidency. But I do not think it is possible that he can do so with a majority of the vote. I don’t think he will get much more than 40-42%, at best. Now, I am disturbed there are that many Americans who would vote for him, but right now I choose to look at it the other way: most of our fellow citizens get it and won’t be conned by the Orange Grifter.

          Duane

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  4. ansonburlingame

     /  August 31, 2016

    Duane,

    This issue with Kaepernick raises a bigger question. Yes, political protest is legal in almost any circumstance (less actually trying to invoke violence). But there is an appropriate time and place to conduct such protests. Generally speaking, one’s work place is not the appropriate time and place.

    Suppose I was a teacher and decided to wear a “Black Lives Matter” tee shirt in school (or a tee shirt supporting Trump as well). Is that legal? Probably but is it “appropriate”? I say “No” rather resoundingly. As well if I am a teacher and during times where I am supposed to be in a class room I instead enter the legislative chambers at the State Capital to protest lack of political actions that I WANT, well is that legal? Probably, but is it appropriate? Resoundingly “No” and I believe could be grounds for disciplinary action against such teachers simply for failing to do their jobs.

    Kaepernick is an employee of an NFL team and his job is to play football and win games. He is required to even wear a uniform to do his job. During the course of performing his job I believe it is inappropriate (but not illegal per se) to express his political sentiments. He should do it on his own time and away from his area of employment.

    Most of your readers are too young to remember the violence and turmoil in 1968. Did such protest go too far? Most thinking Americans would probably say yes to that question. I for one at least have lost all respect for Kaepernick for using his fame earned on a football field to then try to use that fame to achieve political goals while working as a football player.

    Does he have a right to do so? Yes he does. But having now expressed his views in public while working on an NFL team he has exposed himself to at least my disdain. He is struggling right now (see today’s Globe) to remain on that NFL team simply because he is no longer a very good football player. Next up will you write a blog if he is cut and claim political bias as the cause?

    If I was a season ticket holder for that team I would conduct my own “protest” and cancel my subscription (several thousand dollars for sure). If I went to my hometown bank and saw an employee conducting a political protest (wearing a “hands up, don’t shoot” tee shirt) I would as well change banks. I would do the same if an employee wore a “Make America Great, Again” tee shirt, as well.

    There are hundreds of thousands of poor black kids that would do just about anything to gain a position on an NFL team. I bet none of them would try to protest politically while trying out for such a position. If I was a coach and saw such happening I would as well be reluctant to “hire” such a player that was more interested in political goals than playing football.

    Anson

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    • You, as one American citizen, are free to boycott the 49ers, burn Kaepernick’s jersey, or just ignore his message. But the country as a whole cannot afford to ignore the message he is trying to send, even if most Americans don’t like the way he is sending it. 

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  5. King Beauregard

     /  August 31, 2016

    I am going to approach this topic from the nerdiest possible direction I can think of. In 1989 or so, the writer of the “Captain America” comic (Mark Gruenwald) was musing on the then-current issue of flag-burning, and how Cap himself would regard it:

    Ever since the Supreme Court ruled last summer that it was now legal to burn the American flag as a form of protest, people have been coming up to me asking when I’m going to do a story showing Captain America’s view on the subject. After all, I’ve been writing Cap’s comic book longer than anybody except Stan Lee so if I don’t know Cap’s character by now, I should be yanked off the book, right? I’ve given the issue considerable thought, and the first conclusion I’ve reached is that at this point in time, I think Cap’s opinion of flag-burning would make a better essay than story, though I do reserve the right to change my mind in the future. In the meantime…

    Writers are routinely required to write characters who views differ from their own. I, for instance, really enjoy writing villains, despite the fact that I’ve never attempted so much as a misdemeanor. Writing a character as virtuous as Captain America is a real stretch for a regular fella with a mixed bag of failings and personality flaws like I have. Cap’s value system is far more idealistic than mine could ever be. Cap has a reverence for life and a passion for freedom that I wish I could share, but I’m just not like that. But I still like to think I’ve been doing a creditable job these past five years thinking like Cap enough to bring his exploits to life, so…let’s dispense with the pussyfootin’ and address the issue at hand.

    What it boils down to is this: which ranks higher in Cap’s mind, the concept of freedom upon which our country was founded– in this case, freedom of speech or self-expression– or the tangible symbol of America itself? Freedom is an abstract thing, an idea. A flag is a material thing, with abstract connotations. For Cap, these connotations are all of America’s greatest virtues, virtues which include freedom of speech. But Cap is savvy enough to know that not everyone shares his view of America’s ideals. He would even grant others the freedom to let the American flag represent other things than those which it represents to Cap. And if the person disagrees with those things which the American flag represents to him or her, would Cap grant the person the freedom to publicly express that disagreement throught the public act of burning the flag?

    Conditionally, I’d say yes. And the conditions I believe Cap would impose upon a would-be-flag-burner are these. First, that the flag-burning truly be a sincere, heart-felt act, not something done simply for shock effect or even worse, for no point at all. Second, that the physical act of setting a flag on fire be performed responsibly. When I was young and rambunctious, my father told me on numerous occasions that my freedom to swing my fists stopped one inch before another person’s face. Sure, I had the right to wave my fists around as an act of self-expression, but the person next to me had the right to live without fear of being injurred by my self-expression. In the same light, Cap would prevent a person from burning a flag if that act posed any sort of danger to that person or the people around him. I’m not just talking about the guy who decides to burn a flag in a dynamite factory. I’m also talking about someone in a situation where a flag-burning will incite a riot (whether the riot is in agreement or opposition to the act would make no difference to Cap) or place that person in jeopardy. Self-expression that injures or even threatens injury Captain America would condemn and oppose.

    Despite the symbolic nature of his own costume and mission, I believe Cap would rank people as more important than symbols, and what the symbol stand for as more important than the material symbol itself. I believe Cap would respect the individual’s right to free speech (and by extension, symbolic protest) granted by the First Amendment to the Constitution. I believe Cap would agree with the statement attributed to Voltaire, ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’ I also believe Cap would stop a person about to torch a flag long enough to determine what it was the person meant by the symbolic desecration, but once satisfied that there was a point to it, would let him proceed. Afterward, I can see Cap talking to the flag-burner at great length about where that person felt America had let him down, and whether there was anything Cap could do to rectify the situation.

    Is there any set of circumstances in which Cap himself would feel the need to burn the flag? Well, this is stretching it, but if someone were on fire, and the only possible way to save his life was by using the flag to snuff out the flames, I don’t see Cap hesitating for an instant to save the life at the expense of the flag. On the other hand, Cap would probably not hesitate to rush into a burning building, risking his own life and limb, just to save an American flag inside. (He would never ask or expect anyone else to do the same, however.) The bottom line for Cap is that while people are more important than symbols, symbols serve people, providing them concrete images for abstract ideas. As such, symbols have value to him.

    To sum it all up, Captain America, as I understand him, has a deep and abiding love for his country, the symbols of his country, and the ideals that those symbols stand for. But perhaps the foremost of those ideals is freedom, and Cap would not advocate abridging a person’s freedom of speech or symbolic activity even if he found the content of that speech if he found the content of that speech or symbolic act personally repugnant. At least that’s the way I see it.

    — Mark Gruenwald

    The interesting part, to me, is the part about talking to the flag-burner and trying to figure out how the country let him down, and seeing if there is any way to rectify that. If we’re not willing to do that — if we’re not receptive to understanding people’s grievances with this country and doing something about them — we’ve got no right to bitch about their lack of respect for its symbols.

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    • That was quite an interesting read.

      I also liked the part about attempting to understand the grievances of the “offender,” the person who, in one way or another, is using a cherished symbol to make a point. We all have grievances, large or small, against the nation or one or more of its institutions. People complain about their government generally, or a particular manifestation of it, all the time. But most people would never dream of showing disrespect to the flag or refusing to stand during the playing of the anthem. Their grievances just don’t rise to that level. And that is why it is important to find out why some people’s grievances do rise to that level, assuming they are in their right minds. In fact, I would say it is incumbent on us, as good citizens, to try as best we can to not only understand why people are so seriously aggrieved, but, if there is merit, try to do something about it, whether it is getting involved personally or merely voting for politicians who are willing to positively address their issue or issues.

      Important too is what Gruenwald said about the value of symbols: “symbols serve people.” I think he has that right. It is when the people begin to serve the symbols that we get ourselves into trouble. The symbols are there not just as “concrete images for abstract ideas,” but as a way of showing that there is something that unites us all, no matter how disparate our circumstances, who claim the flag as our own. And if we use the symbols that way, if we allow them to “serve” us that way, then they are serving us well. But if we make the symbols more important than the people they are meant to serve, then we pervert the things the symbols point to. And that is what I think too many tend to do in situations like flag burning or not standing up during the anthem.

      Thanks, by the way, for sharing that piece by Mark Gruenwald.

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      • King Beauregard

         /  September 1, 2016

        Gruenwald was my favorite; sadly he died of an unexpected heart attack 20 years ago. I always liked that his stories weren’t just about people in unitards hitting each other over the heads with telephone poles; there needed to be some moral / ethical level where the fight made sense and could not just be talked out. Dude was a voice of sanity, doing what he could to promote decency in his little niche of society.

        Not that comics rise to the level of deep philosophical tracts, but especially in today’s society where mainstream political discourse is closer to professional wrestling than to Thomas Paine, you take your common sense where you can find it.

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        • I’m not a cartoon guy, but I get your point. I especially like the idea of promoting “decency” in the little places where we live out our lives. In the end, for most of us, that is about the best we can do. And, oddly, if we all did that, most of our big social problems would go away.

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          • King Beauregard

             /  September 1, 2016

            Another favorite observation of Gruenwald’s:

            You can become a good person. All of us are presented with opportunities every single day to be a jerk or a nice guy. If you train yourself not to choose the jerk option, doing the right thing might become a reflex.

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  6. ansonburlingame

     /  September 1, 2016

    I had forgotten about “flag burning” in the late 60’s and most of the 70’s. My position at that time was the same as my position on Kaepernick today. “Go ahead and raise hell all you like but forget any support from me for such actions”.

    If I ever had the opportunity for a personal encounter with Kaepernick (or just about any promoter of Black Lives Matter) I would ignore their forms of protest, angry language, outrage, etc. and simply ask “What specifically would you propose that “America” do in terms of legislation to achieve your goals?” Would any of you really like to have the opportunity to go one-on-one with the young people screaming “Pigs in a blanket, burn’em like bacon”? I would for sure and I would not even raise my voice in such a discussion and would do my best to control my body language as well.

    I have listened carefully for constructive views on needed legislation to avoid further “police brutality” but rarely have I heard any proposed actual legislation to remedy that situation. Generally it involves decriminalizing certain actions. “No longer try to arrest people for using, selling or distributing any “illegal” drugs” . I like to think of just such a remedy as “dumbing down our laws”. Open borders (no such thing as an illegal entry into America) certainly removes the taint of illegal residence in America) and solves that problem, but….?

    I just read a front page article in the Globe this AM about efforts to reduce the number of credit hours for graduation at MSSU. That for sure will reduce the work and expense needed to receive a college degree. But ……..?

    The dropout rate is too high in K12 education so let’s eliminate any requirement to pass algebra for such a degree!

    I do know this one simple form of guidance that I have provided to my kids and grandkids (all of them “white kids” to be sure but I would do the same for black kids as well). If you are stopped by police for anything, just stay calm and do what they tell you to do, period. Then call ME and if injustice is involved I will come to help you deal with the situation. In an ideal world, if no one resisted arrest there would be a very small number of instances of police brutality. Sure there would be some unauthorized use of police arrest power from time to time, but ………

    Anson

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    • King Beauregard

       /  September 1, 2016

      Yeah, kindly tell me what Charles Kinsey did to deserve to be shot. That’s really what your argument is, isn’t it? If people get shot by cops it’s almost certainly because THEY misbehaved.

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  7. ansonburlingame

     /  September 1, 2016

    The term “misbehaved” misses the point. What is the number for death at the hands of cops this year, maybe say 500. How many of those interactions were initiated simply because a man or woman was black, no other reason, even a “broken taillight”, which in fact is illegal and I doubt few cops face disciplinary actions for stopping any drivers with same, black, white, brown or whatever.

    On the other hand, how many of those people killed would NOT be shot or suffered any other bodily harm had they simply stopped whatever they were doing and did exactly as directed by the cop?

    Recent personal experience in an interaction with a cop. My wife and I were driving about two blocks from home and were going to be late for an appointment. Some stress involved for sure. She then remembered she had left her “phone” behind. I made a legal but fast and risky U turn and returned home. Upon arrival in our driveway I opened the garage door, she jumped out of the car to run into the house and our two dogs were barking and seemed to be ready to bolt out of the garage. At the same time, (running wife, barking dogs, etc.) a cop had pulled behind me in the driveway with lights on. About the same time he arrived by my driver’s side door I attempted to open it, in a hurry, to contain the dogs.

    His reaction was to put his hand on his gun and slam the door back into me to keep me in the car!! He was also keeping one eye on the dogs and waiting to see just what my wife would come out of the house holding. “Stay in the car, sir” was his strong and immediate order to me.

    I literally “froze”, said nothing and did exactly as ordered by the cop.

    Who was “wrong” in that incident? I WAS, for sure. Just imagine how that situation could have escalated had I said “Fuck you”, tried again to open my door and rushed into the garage to keep the dogs at bay?

    Right or wrong, that cop was “nervous” and took what he considered to be the needed action to protect himself. He did not even give me a ticket as well. He simply told me to drive more carefully. As well he told me that “it is dangerous out here” and that I should always pay attention to orders from police. In other words, when stopped by police, don’t try to bolt away from the car for any reason. Just stay put, don’t reach into the glove compartment for documents, scramble around to get anything else (wallet?), etc. Just sit with my hands clearly visible on the steering wheel and await the next order from any cop. That SHOULD be common sense for anyone it seems to me.

    He was right and I learned, again, a good lesson, one that is applicable to anyone being stopped, for any reason, by any cop, anywhere. even Charles Kinsley whom I assume is the black man telling a cop he had a gun and was simultaneously reaching into his pocket (for “something”).. As far as I know that case has yet to be adjudicated though I tend to agree that was a very scared and irrational cop, probably. But probably does not satisfy the law, thank God.

    Anson

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    • King Beauregard

       /  September 1, 2016

      “even Charles Kinsley whom I assume is the black man telling a cop he had a gun and was simultaneously reaching into his pocket (for “something”)”

      You can’t even bother to look up Charles’s story, but by damn you jump to concluding he was in the wrong. And you wonder why people smell bigotry rolling off you.

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  8. King Beauregard

     /  September 1, 2016

    Damon Young nails it, I’m quoting the whole damn piece.

    http://verysmartbrothas.com/if-youre-an-american-and-you-dont-give-a-damn-about-black-americans-your-patriotism-is-bullshit/

    IF YOU’RE AN AMERICAN, AND YOU DON’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT BLACK AMERICANS, YOUR “PATRIOTISM” IS BULLSHIT

    For the past week, the prevailing national conversations spring boarded by Colin Kaepernick’s protest have primarily dealt with the level of patriotism possessed by Kaepernick and others aligned with his beliefs about our country and supportive of his means of protest. Some of this conversation has existed in the form of nuanced acknowledgements of the very real and relevant sources for Kaepernick’s (and other’s) ambivalence. And, of course, some of this conversation has been predictably terrible; where blind and mindless loyalty to both our country and the symbols representing it — even if the country hasn’t been particularly loyal to us — seems to be the expectation.
    Either way, the spotlight is shining on us and our complex relationship(s) to the ideal of patriotism. And the spotlight is shining in the wrong direction.

    Black Americans are Americans. Living and breathing citizens of this country; many of whom can trace our lineages here back hundreds of years. Maybe our (collective) feelings about America are complex and perhaps our patriotism can be doubted at times (and for good reason). But one thing is simple: We are American citizens. This is an inextricable truth. A truth that remains true despite a history (and present) of that citizenship being doubted, questioned, and even outright dismissed.

    But we are Americans. And for the Black American, the 300 million other American citizens are our countrymen. Which is why we need to start doubting the patriotic bonafides of those doubting ours.

    Patriotism isn’t just an infatuation with and fanaticism for symbols and abstractions. It’s a steadfastness in making sure the country’s professed ideals aren’t just honored and protected, but extended to each of its citizens. It’s not standing for the flag, it’s fighting for what the flag is supposed to stand for. It’s wanting to keep your countrymen — all of them — safe.

    Maybe Colin Kaepernick isn’t particularly patriotic. But if you can’t bother to be concerned about the centuries-long and impregnable mistreatment of millions of your fellow Americans, neither are you.

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    • Anonymous

       /  September 1, 2016

      Amen

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    • I, for one, like the idea of going on offense against those who want to own the word “patriot” all for themselves. Right-wingers don’t get to define what patriotism is anymore than left-wingers do. Much of patriotism is tied to emotions. It matters how one feels, at any given time, about the country he or she calls home. Just as an example, those of us who think Trump is a dangerously dumb man, a racist-leaning xenophobe or worse, would, I am guessing, feel less patriotic about America if Trump becomes president than they feel right now. If that happens, if Trump manages to win, I will here confess that I will have to reevaluate how I feel about America. My patriotic emotions will be tested. I have never felt that way in my entire life about any national election. Trump is different. If he wins, America will also be different. We all have a right, some would say a duty, to judge it if so many citizens embrace a quasi-fascist.

      A “love it or leave it” attitude toward the country is disrespectful to it, and particularly disrespectful to the ideals that America is supposed to stand for, if one concludes that the country is not living up to those ideals. For me, a Trump victory would mean that a least a plurality of my fellow Americans don’t give a damn about the values that I think defines us best as a country and, more important, don’t give a damn about putting a temperamentally unfit person in charge, a person who clearly knows next to nothing about the world and is a threat to America’s and the world’s well-being. And, as a patriot, I get to decide what I think about them and the country we share, a country they would utterly disrespect by voting for Trump.

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