How The Left Can Reclaim Patriotism

Robert Crohan/Staff Writer

Over the weekend, I watched CNN’s report on protests outside President Trump’s South Dakota rally. Advocates for Native American rights, indigenous groups, and Black Lives Matter supporters came out in droves to counter Trump’s nativism. However, one sight in particular caught my eye: the flag vandalized and hung upside down.

Compare that to the Trump event: everyone was happy, flags were waved, men dressed up as Abraham Lincoln and women as Lady Liberty. The president himself spoke in front of Mount Rushmore.

I remember thinking: “swell… I can already smell the attack ads.”

The past few weeks have allowed our country to dive into some introspection; to reflect on just how fair we are as black lives are taken from us every day out of volition. However, the contrast between left and right is stronger than ever, with conservatives boasting of our history and pride and liberals pausing to consider what we are celebrating. I am taken aback by, but understand the intentions of, left-leaning people who outwardly criticize America and sometimes go so far as to label it an abomination to people of color.

Upon first glance, I can see someone assuming that these people, in Trump’s words, “hate America” and are unpatriotic and insulting to our veterans. I offer a rebuke: by resisting nationalism and using their fought-for rights, us protesters are upholding our patriotism in ways never before considered. We must make that clear through making our voices heard, and adjusting them to fit common sense.

Not to sound cliché, but we were founded on the guarantee of liberty and justice for all, and the foundations of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In 2020 America, only a share of our people are truly protected. And what better way to express dissatisfaction than by protesting?

Former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said “I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up or take a knee for your rights, any time, anywhere, in any place.”

Our constitution granted us these rights to fix what is broken about America. People cannot exactly do this everywhere else in the world. In my view, not waving the flag and addressing the injustices we face is more patriotic than waving the flag and ignoring them.

In my view, not waving the flag and addressing the injustices we face is more patriotic than waving the flag and ignoring them.

Indeed, many who say “love it or leave it” seem insensitive to the evolving realities in our country. Maybe they should consider how much they truly love America and want to stay.

Our country may be great, but it was never perfect. Americans fought tooth and nail for suffrage, for civil rights, for LGBTQ+ rights, for basic humanity. And each time, the right has labeled it an assault on America itself. Each time, they were proven wrong.

I am not advocating for closed-mindedness. Indeed, I have developed my current opinions by sharing perspectives and conversing with people of all political stripes, Trump supporters to socialists. Many of my closest friends support the President.

So, my fellow liberals and leftists, let’s do exactly that. We can change minds and make our founding fathers proud by correcting the wrongs the American way. Let’s remember the likes of Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We must point out the dangers of nationalism. One can be proud of their country, but mindlessly waving the flag displays ignorance of the plight of those let down by our country. These Americans may not be willing to acknowledge the broken promises. Indeed, nationalism led to Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

America has improved over the decades by changing. Not every intention or text of the constitution can be applicable today, and twisting the words around to promote outdated ideals only harms everyone. Indeed, we triumphed over outdated Soviet Marxism and German Fascism to represent freedom and self-determination.

When we talk of ending the electoral college, we do not hate the heartland, but want everybody’s vote to count equally. When we talk of banning and buying back assault weapons, we don’t hate the second amendment, just the allowance of certain weapons designed to kill for sport. When we talk of wealth redistribution, it is not out of contempt of earning your income, but making a living when the system erects impassable roadblocks to success. When we seek to protect the undocumented, we do not justify illegal immigration, but lend a helping hand to fellow human beings. When we talk of taxing Amazon, we do not want to bring inconvenience to consumers, but want to keep competition alive.

Jesse Fraga/PantherNOW

The right often defends the notion of “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps,” but the current circumstances make that next to impossible. Just because liberals may face different struggles than are familiar to conservatives, is that really worthy of judgment?

Protesting won us the rights to marry whoever we want and welcome immigrants. Who is to say that protesters advocating for more government protection from the dangers of our unpredictable economy work any less hard than “traditional” Americans? Who is to say that the researcher in New York is less worthy of protection than the rancher in Nebraska? Or the mother trying to feed her children in Detroit is lazy, while the Kentucky farmer is hardworking?

When the right tries to bring down our movements, the hypocrisy must be brought into question: how can a party that has often refused to open up to ethnic and religious minorities represent America? How can a movement that prioritizes the right to own an assault rifle over the right for a child to safely go to school represent our interests? How does a president who keeps violating the constitution defend it from “leftist tyranny?” How does a president who gravely insults former POW veterans like the late John McCain represent respect for our men and women in uniform? How can the “pro-America” party defend police use of tear gas on peaceful protesters?

The right defends abusive giants like Facebook and Amazon, while warning of tyranny from the government. Keep in mind, it was conservatives who supported the Patriot Act.

I will not glorify the left as I have many problems with it, but will point out that this coalition stands for the people. We reject nationalism and any ideology that discriminates. We look for the best in people and can respect those who disagree with us. When something isn’t working, we work to turn it around. While we respect conservatives preserving long-held ideals, we believe we can always move forward.

With that being said, might I suggest a change in tactics? I understand that I cannot lecture disenfranchised groups about how to protest, but we probably will not win hearts or minds by vandalizing statues, burning the flag, assaulting Trump voters or attacking police officers. No wonder the right calls us a bunch of mobsters! We must come together.

But I respect protesters’ right to decide for themselves. And that is the beauty of America: no one is perfect, but we can be free to think and act for ourselves. This year, my disappointment in her has come full circle, but I will not let it block me from lifting her up again, to be the true beacon of hope and opportunity for all, not the few.

My fellow Americans and libtards, let’s let freedom ring.

Featured image by torbakhopper on Flickr.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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