FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Meaning of Political Protest

Political protests are the foundation of what makes this country what it is and without the ability to protest and make ones voice heard, we continue down this dangerous path of conflating the true meaning of the word democracy while condemning its actual practice. People who only identify themselves as patriotic by standing up during the national anthem or saluting the American flag when it’s presented before them are falsely identifying what it means to be an American.

Patriotism can reveal itself in different ways and does not require the application of standing for a song that has racist historical roots, or standing for a flag of a country that was started under the contradictory promotion of freedom and slavery. Our country has a complicated history and to be a patriot in the most basic terms one is allowed to look at the country with questionable pride and demand that things can be better and you want that change for everyone. The idea of only connecting patriotism to the the military belittles the true flexibility and development of freedom and oversimplifies the identity of what makes America the country we all speak of.

For those who look to people like Kaepernick, with his political protest of sitting down for the national anthem – demanding action against the recent uproar of police brutality – as an insult to our military and soldiers who fought and died for our “freedoms” need to reflect on what that word means. And if you don’t see the irony of someone expressing their freedom on issues that concern them, but you don’t feel are important and you only recognize that action as disrespect to those in uniform, you should really reflect on what soldiers think about the situation.

More recently our military endeavors have become less about democracy and more about the subjugation and control of other states. Many can argue the true nature of our presences in the middle east or our growing proxy wars throughout Africa, or more than 750 military bases spread throughout the world. What does matter is that our country has not only progressed through the actions of our military alone, but also through the action of political protest.

Without considering the role that political protests have had in creating more safe work environments, environmental regulations, the health of the community, building a middle class, medical and financial care for the elderly, and the dismantling of child labor and slavery, they are ignoring the basic principles that were put in place through the constitution. And to belittle those actions and repress their significance is to insult our constitution, country, and the soldiers who fight in the name or defending those freedoms.

Those who see a flag more patriotic than political protest to the injustices in their country are subjecting themselves to a simplistic idea of what our military, soldiers, and our country represent. They are ignoring the long history of struggles that have been and continues to be fought for in order to make this country better. Their sense of pride and patriotic furor in the flag follows more in the footsteps of a nationalistic fascist regime than it does in standing up for the principles of freedom in democracy. They can use the words ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ to make it sound like those are part of their interest, but those words become meaningless when you attack someone’s freedom to stand, sit, and protest the injustices in their country.

Change and progress comes through action of the public protest. The labor movement forced itself into the conversation of the country during the late 19th and made huge gains for labor and helped create the middle class of the 20th century. The Civil War and the Reconstruction period, moments considered the second revolution in America, were moments protested by the abolitionist and blacks, to offer freedom and liberty to the newly freed slaves. The Civil Rights picked up the fight with the right to vote and continues that struggle for economic justice and a stop to police brutality with groups like Black Lives Matter. It was the political protest of the woman’s suffrage movement of the late 1800’s to the 1920’s that won women the right to vote and participate more freely in the democratic process.

Occupy Wall Street, the Climate protests, and the 15 Now Campaigns have all brought attention to serious issues. Their protests were political as people went into the streets blocking traffic, shopping, pipelines, and stood outside the white house, in order to bring the public’s attention. Income inequality is at a rate we haven’t seen since the 1920’s before the Great Depression. Aside from 97% of scientist in agreement that climate change is a real issue, and we can’t ignore every day of this year consistently broke records for being the hottest ever recorded. Average wages have stagnated since the 1970’s and are less than what they would have been accounting for inflation, this at the same time as we’re more productive than we were back then.

To speak out against these political protests is to besmirch the change that has occurred throughout this country, let alone to ignore the history of this country. And these issues carry concern in the public realm. Income inequality, climate change, and rebuilding the middle class were issues that were brought into the election with the surge voters pushing Sanders into the Democratic debate to speak publicly on theses issues.

It’s usually not without coincidence those who speak pridefully of our soldiers and military have little outrage or rarely do anything aside from a one-time social media post, about the 22 soldier suicides that occur daily, or the real concern of PTSD. They don’t condemn the torture report (that spoke of methods that our military used that broke international laws) or demand justice against those involved. Few, if any, ever protest the drone wars, which have helped recruit terrorist, or speak out against the high rate of sexual assault that takes place in the military.

In most of the political movements of the past, the military’s role has been one in defending the state. And while there is and should be constant support of the soldiers in our military, to speak against the actions of our military abroad is something Americans should feel free and comfortable to participate in. Without an open dialogue about our military adventures abroad, we only continue to perpetuate our emotional disconnection to war that most Americans feel. We will only continue to further disengage ourselves of the blunders that continue in our country’s name. This opens the door to more potential blowback, the continued militarization of our police, the continued over-surveillance of our society and the exploitation and abuse against our own soldiers

A country that finds it disrespectful to the soldiers in uniform when an individual decides to sit down during the national anthem for a political protest needs to take a step back and look at what role they want the military to play. Do they want the military to be a representation of the freedoms and liberty they presume to espouse and allow those same freedoms to be exercised by the citizens who demand better treatment for their community? Or do they want the military to tell people what they can and can’t do? Because the latter reveals a deeper issue of not just what kind of role for military they want, but also what our country means when we speak of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ and for whom.

More articles by:

Joey Gomez is an avid political junkie who listens to podcasts in the morning and hoards political magazines and far too many books in his spare time. When he isn’t working on short films or freelance writing, he is adding content to his blog site A Man of Few Words.

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Wim Laven
The Annual Whitewashing of Martin Luther King Jr.
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail