Like the rest of America, I can’t help but think about the implications of the last several weeks or months coming to a head because a bunch of football players decide to make a stand and a President who can’t help but send his judgement across the Twittersphere, igniting an already complex conversation that America has needed to have for years, since probably the civil rights movement.
Of course, the way that this is being framed, set into context, is that is isn’t about American citizens still being judged by the color of their skin, no instead this is about disrespecting the flag, which somehow equates to additional disrespect to those who CHOOSE to fight for that flag.
We learned about this in University– Cognitive Dissonance. The act of creating a conflict above another conflict in order to distract from the original conflict. This is a classic rhetoric being used and its amazing that so many people are falling for it. The President and his followers are actually creating a conflict about Veterans and the Flag in order to avoid having to discuss the real reason these people are protesting– its a cloud of dissonance. The reality is it has nothing to do with Flag, Country or Vets, it has to do with racism and ignorance.
First of all, Veterans choose to fight for this country– there isn’t a draft, so people who heed the call to serve do so on their own volition. If you fight for freedom, that’s great, but the American people don’t owe you anything other than what you are given in salary and benefits– its a choice you make with your own free will. Just like I choose to go to University and I chose to be in debt for it, I don’t ask people respect me because of a choice I made when I was younger.
Second of all, read the statistics, being black in America is rough for the vast majority of blacks– lets remember that 34% of black males are incarcerated at some point in their lives. Most are racially profiled and accused of things, live in poverty, etc.. the data is easy to find and present. Now we are starting to see a rise in Hate Speech and White Supremacy that was haven’t seen in decades– plus uprising in places like St. Louis over police getting acquitted again and again after killing people.
We live in a complicated society, everyone is aware of that. We aren’t perfect and the way we protest also isn’t perfect–sitting during the national anthem is probably the most non-violent way to protest that we have seen, yet it seems to resonate more with the other side of the fence than thousands of protesters filling the streets to make their pleas heard– that’s what gets me. We should be smarter than this as a whole, but we keep falling for the same rhetoric and propaganda. We have to do better for equal rights and standing up for those equal rights!
…and I am not trying to be preachy here. I get it– but what I don’t get is when celebrities use their platform to speak out injustice, people get so upset about it. I always think about when Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder spoke out against W– and people would tell him to shut up and play music and keep the politics out of it– but our politics are a fabric of our identity. If we don’t speak out about things, how are people supposed to know that there are things out there that others don’t agree with? How am I supposed to know that fucked up things are happening to black America? (Well, I actually pay attention).
Now, the Vets would counter this by saying that they are victims too, right? Vets, of all people, should be sensitive to groups of people being unfairly treated– look at how the VA treats its own, right? Instead of take a moment to acknowledge that suffering is happening, some choose to further victimize and delegitimize these people. To me, that is a very slippery slope.