In defense of patriotism

No one foresaw the results of the 2016 election. Donald Trump’s victory is the stuff of legend and will surely be talked about for decades to come. As a result, it is no surprise that those who didn’t anticipate it have reacted negatively. To watch a candidate who you have supported lose in such incredible fashion is certainly not easy. These next four years will not be easy for anyone, and we as Americans have a long road to travel together and need to do whatever we can to stand united. However, there is a select group of people who are choosing to do something that undermines this sentiment by literally defacing the very fabric of this nation.

A few weeks ago, Hampshire College refused to fly the American flag after students took it down and burnt it, sparking a media firestorm with President-elect Trump tweeting that flag burners should be thrown in prison or have their citizenship revoked.  Now, obviously, Trump’s inflammatory remarks are not compatible with the First Amendment or the ideas of freedom for which this nation stands. However, I do believe he is right that we should look on American flag burners and their actions with contempt.

“This flag stands for genocide of native people and the assault of Standing Rock. This flag deserves to burn,” said a protester in front of Trump Tower before torching the American flag. They further stated that they believed that the American flag stands for oppression, death squads, and racism. While it is undeniable that the United States has done terrible things throughout our history, to look at the flag as a simple representation of the U.S. government is misguided. The flag also stands for us, the American people, for every citizen living in this country and abroad. When people burn the flag, they don’t just spit on the government, they also spit on all of us.

While we are indeed country founded on slavery, white supremacy, and oppression, we have also made great strides. We are such a young country and yet look how far we have come since 1776. We fought a war against slavery and won. We fought for a woman’s right to vote and won. We fought against the greatest threat to freedom and humanity in the 1940’s and won. We defeated Jim Crow and showed the world that freedom and choice is better than communist oppression. While we have taken steps backwards, progress is the American way and our flag represents that progress. It represents all those who have sacrificed and fought for this country and the people who live in it. Do not burn the flag in the name of social justice. Instead, look to continue the legacy of seeking to change this country for the better as a proud patriotic American.