“But if I may even flatter myself that [my words] may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good, that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism—this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare by which they have been dictated.”–George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
It is time to protect our freedoms and our soil with our hearts and spirits, from despoliation.
We must carry the mantle of patriotism without fear. We must take the flag from those who would turn it against us as a weapon. We must stand for freedom. Stand for democracy. Stand for our nation's beauty. Stand for our home’s great bounty of resources, clean water and soil and a livable climate. Stand for each other. Without fear of embracing each other's weaknesses as well as our strengths. It is time to take the flag from those that use it as a weapon and let it once again stand for true patriotism. It is time for us to recognize that true patriots defend free speech, defend the people who make up our nation, defend our home. True patriots demand an educated electorate. True patriots sacrifice their labor and sweat to protect our home and our neighbors. True patriots place honor and compassion above comfort and economic greed.
”The conservation of our natural resources and their proper use constitute the fundamental problem which underlies almost every other problem of our national life. . ..As a nation we not only enjoy a wonderful measure of present prosperity but if this prosperity is used aright it is an earnest of future success such as no other nation will have. The reward of foresight for this nation is great and easily foretold. But there must be the look ahead, there must be a realization of the fact that to waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.”—Theodore Roosevelt, Address to the Congress, Dec. 3, 1907
“Remember, remember always, that all of us … are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”–Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life,”– John F. Kennedy
”Politicians against gay marriage now are the future villains of our American History books.” Natalie Maines, Dixie Chicks, June 28, 2011, Twitter
”Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body & mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”—Thomas Jefferson, April 24, 1816
”That Men ought to speak well of their Governours is true, while their Governours, deserve to be well spoken of, but to do publick Mischief, without hearing of it , is only the Prerogative and Felicity of Tyranny: A free People will be shewing that they are so, by their Freedom of Speech.”—Benjamin Franklin, July 9. 1722
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”― Theodore Roosevelt, May 18, 1918
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will, within the limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.”—Thomas Jefferson, April 4, 1819
“Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature.”—Samuel Adams, Nov. 20, 1772
“Science is the attempt, largely successful, to understand the world, to get a grip on things, to get hold of ourselves, to steer a safe course. Microbiology and meteorology now explain what only a few centuries ago was considered sufficient cause to burn women to death.” —Carl Sagan
The battle for the country has never been complete; it has never yet been finished. We will continue to fight for our freedoms and our democracy and our home as our forebears have. And we will tell our children that we will never give up that fight.
Before the election, I had a conversation with a Trump supporter. A civil conversation. She continually spoke of the need to take care of “our” people. I agreed. It is time to take care of OUR people. But who, exactly, is that? Yes, out of work coal miners count in that. President Obama certainly included them when he promulgated the Power Plus Plan, meant to use funds to help coal communities recover as gas kills coal. Yes, it includes union workers whose jobs have evaporated, replaced by mechanization and cheap foreign labor. But, too, doesn’t it include LGBTQ, Black, Hispanic and Muslim Americans? I had the distinct sense that is not what she meant by “our people.”
Since the election, I have driven by the local gas plant under construction with a US flag hanging from a crane. I follow trucks with the flag on their bumpers. I see the flag wrapped around hate filled rhetoric.
And I am angry. Why do they own the flag? Why do they have ownership of patriotism?
I am proud to be a citizen bequeathed the US Constitution. I am proud to be a denizen of beautiful mountains and rivers. I am proud to live where you can eat tacos and sushi and potato knishes. I am proud to live where you can protest under the protection of the First Amendment and expect due process of law in all matters. I am proud to live where slavery was ended and Civil Rights are held up as the best part of us. I am proud to have lived the day to see gay marriage recognized across our land. I am proud to inherit all that our forebears have given us.
But those things of which we should be most proud are imperiled.
And they are under attack by people waving the flag. Gas power plants that will despoil the rivers and mountains we love. Truck owners that “roll coal” and refuse to defend the stability of a livable planet. Gun owners that cannot permit sensible restrictions to prevent terrorist attacks, domestic or otherwise. Bigots and racists that only want to protect heterosexual white people.
Our wisest predecessors are speaking to us across the centuries: “guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”
Those words were meant for our ears. True patriots will listen.