What does being American mean to you? To me, it means a multitude of things. Mostly, it means that anyone that loves this country doesn’t have to love what you say, but we have to fight for your right to say it. Now, that doesn’t mean that people don’t get the First Amendment confused. They absolutely do. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean that I can say anything I want with absolutely no consequences. The Supreme Court has ruled on this. Freedom of speech crosses the line when you stand up in a crowded movie theater and yell fire.
That also doesn’t mean that if I call my boss a jerk, while I’m absolutely “free” to do that, I’m not guaranteed I won’t get fired.
Freedom of speech simply means that I’m not going to be stoned to death or burned in the middle of town square for criticizing the government. That’s freedom of speech. And while I will absolutely defend your right to fly a Confederate flag on your property or on your vehicle, I absolutely defend my right to follow you into the gas station to tell you why you’re an offensive, ignorant, and arrogant illiterate. I often do.
And that’s completely different than flying the clothed emblem of slavery and oppression on public property. Just as you’re free to fly the universal sign for someone who received their “history lesson” off the back of a spring break t-shirt in Alvin’s Island in your yard, kids of color should be free to go to school without the symbol of those who went to war to continue owning their ancestors, also.
Being American means many things. It means that while there’s insane money in politics that we need to remove, my vote is also still not for sale. And that no amount of money, no amount of Koch brothers and independent billionaires running for election, can buy the presidency if citizens don’t go into the the voting booth and cast a ballot for them. That is the most precious right of all in the United States. And of course, being an American means patriotism.
But we’ve seen “patriotism” take on irrational forms of late. The party that claims to care about war heroes and drapes themselves continuously in the American flag — as if that is somehow the measure of how much someone loves their nation — now has a nominee for the highest office in the land who insults the mother and father of a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice. That’s not what patriotism looks like to me.
That’s not what patriotism and the self-professed party of Christ looks like to the majority of Americans.
No matter how old my grandmother gets, no matter what she forgets, she never forgets to monitor that American flag out in her yard. To see if it’s tattered, to see if it’s torn. And when it is, nothing will stop her until she gets it replaced. This weekend I put up a new one for her, and if you’ve never seen somebody that’s not even 5 foot tall try to take down the American flag, fold it, and put up another one without allowing it to touch the ground — it was almost a YouTube fail-worthy sight. But I did it.
But patriotism also means that while I will not even allow an American flag to touch the ground in honor of men like my grandfather who served in the Navy, the Army and the National Guard, being an American citizen with all its complicated requirements, also means I defend your right to burn it in protest.
Now, I think that you are an ungrateful and disgusting person who’s not worthy of the citizenship of America or the men and women who fight for you if you chose to do so, and if a soldier wanted to go toe-to-toe with you the Walmart parking lot, I think we’d all contribute to his bail, but the freedom of expression in America means you have to allow freedom of expression that you find disgusting so long as it’s not done on any government or public property.
If you want to burn a flag in your yard, as sickening as that is, in America, you cannot subscribe to the demand that the symbol of a free nation be something as small as fabric.
That’s patriotism. That’s honor for the United States Constitution.
Patriotism means that if I don’t agree with gay marriage, I recognize the right that, here in the United States, we are not governed by any religion and that everyone has a right to privileges that I may not approve of, so that I can enjoy the ones that I do. America means so many things to so many people, and underneath that diverse tapestry is a layer that unites us all. And I don’t see any part of that shared unity represented in the Republican nominee for president of the United States.
It’s time to put country over party.
This is an election for the soul of our country. Democrat or Republican, we have to ask ourselves — what kind of nation are we? Is the party of Abraham Lincoln now really the Party of Donald Trump? From Dwight Eisenhower to a man who insults the memory and the family of men like Captain Khan? I know that there are still honorable men and women in the GOP. It’s time to stand up, y’all. You’ve allowed this to go on long enough. We are Americans before we are anything. It’s time to remember that.
Make America Great Again, my foot. We are and always have been the land of opportunity. Or, as they say, the home of the free because of the brave. Let’s act like it.
And our brave deserve a Commander-in-Chief who doesn’t mock a five year prisoner of war — one who refused his own release unless his fellow POWS could be released with him — for being captured in the first place. While simultaneously having received medical deferments to escape service to his nation for a boo-boo on his foot.
Donald Trump is unworthy of our military’s honor and their sacrifice.
There are over five thousand American Muslims currently serving in the United States armed forces. If you are willing to put on that uniform and lay down your life to defend the very freedoms that I enjoy — particularly the one that gives me the right to tell Donald Trump to go to the same place Lindsey Graham suggested he visit — then who am I to care how, and to whom, you pray? If you are willing to sacrifice and give yourself to defend this nation, then I don’t care if you are gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, male, female, black, white, asian, Latino, or pink with purple polka dots. Muslim, Christian, Jewish, atheist or anywhere in between. If you are willing to give your life to fight for my freedom, then the least I can do is give you the right to live your life as who you are and who you want to be.
There are over 900 American Muslims currently serving as members of the New York City Police Department. Let that marinate.
I can take a lot of Donald Trump’s stupidity because I believe my absolute favorite verse in the Bible when it tells me that weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. And I can handle the weeping that has unnecessarily been edured by our nation throughout the shame and embarrassment that is and has been Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, because I know that joy cometh on election morning. But of all the things he has done that has disgusted me the most, going after John McCain, insulting our troops and insinuating that we are a weak and ineffective military and that the world is no longer in awe of the men and women who defend this nation every day — is, without a doubt, the most infuriating to take.
And going after the parents of Captain Khan, a hero who sacrificed in a way a man like Donald Trump cannot possibly imagine, sickens me the most. It disgusts me to a point of sadness, disbelief and rage.
Don’t you ever stand up and insult the service of anybody who put on the armor of the United States armed forces to protect your right to be crass.
All we needed to hear from you, Donald Trump, were two words: thank you.
And you couldn’t even handle that.
So what if Mrs. Khan’s religion didn’t allow her to speak out? If you’d so much as ever even read a Bible, Mr. Trump, you would know the way the Bible speaks on a woman’s role in the church. She’s not even allowed to lead songs, prayers; can’t teach a class of male children if they’ve been baptized. Not according to the teachings of the Church of Christ. Even if the mother of a war hero didn’t believe that it was proper to speak over her husband, who cares?
This country grants freedom of religion in our founding documents — perhaps you should try reading those as well — and her son still died for you, you hampster-headed dayglow clucktrumpet.
Thank you. That’s all that was required, Trump.
May God protect all of our brave troops and grant strength to their families. I love and thank you all.
And may God forever bless our already great United States.
Candi is a lifelong reader, Democrat and kid-keeper. She lives in Middle Tennessee and rants electronically coast to coast.