Mike Ditka, the former Chicago Bears coach, lashed out at 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players for their much-publicized behavior during the National Anthem. Ditka blustered, “I think it’s a problem … anybody who disrespects this country and the flag. If they don’t like the country, they don’t like our flag … get the hell out.”
I hope you will excuse us, Coach, if we don’t feel all warm and fuzzy singing the National Anthem, swell with pride when we see the flag, or if the song “God Bless America” leaves us cold.
You see, it’s not that we hate America, as you seem to think. We love our country very much. It’s just that these symbols of America have been co-opted and desecrated by some despicable people.
Ever hear someone say, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel?” Samuel Johnson wrote that many years ago, but it could’ve been written yesterday by anyone observing America’s self-described patriots.
Who was more patriotic than Ronald Reagan? He loved the flag and sang the Star Spangled Banner with gusto. He also ran the most corrupt administration in American history. By the time he left office, 138 appointees had been convicted, indicted or been under official investigation for misconduct and/or criminal violations.
Making America Great Again While Reagan inspired the gullible with his talk of making America great again (yes, Donald Trump stole that one), he waged war on America’s working people, shifting the tax burden onto our shoulders, busting unions, and cutting the heart out of OSHA, the agency entrusted with keeping workers alive. He also compared the murderous, drug-dealing Nicaraguan Contras he supported to our Founding Fathers. Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison would not be pleased.
Patriotism runs deep at the NRA, which professes reverence for the Bill of Rights. They love the Second Amendment, especially since it was reinterpreted by their lackey, Antonin Scalia. An article in Business Insiders tells us that gun companies like Smith & Wesson and Cabala’s contribute tens of millions to the NRA. These corporate gifts have transformed the NRA from an organization devoted to gun safety into a mighty political force that beheads politicians who dare advocate for sane gun laws. Even George H.W. Bush got disgusted and publicly resigned from the organization in 1995. Carnage in our streets and hordes of gun owners terrified that “the govmint gonna take way yer guns” add up to big profits for the gun pushers.
“God Bless America” has never sounded the same since the Bush administration used the song to whip us into a war frenzy following 9/11. GW Bush’s face is indelibly etched in my brain after it appeared, Big Brother-like, on the scoreboard of a nationally-televised baseball game during the seventh inning stretch. For quite a while, the usual “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was replaced with “God Bless America.”
Bush becomes the War President Bush relished his overnight transformation from an inept, ridiculed leader suspected of stealing the 2000 election into the wildly-popular “War President” who took us to war in Iraq. Who cares if Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks? USA was avenged, Bush’s poll numbers skyrocketed, and Dick Cheney’s former firm, Halliburton, reaped big profits.
Richard Nixon waved the flag as lovingly as Reagan, especially when covering up the crimes that eventually led to him being driven from office. A Nixon aide recently revealed that the War on Drugs Nixon launched was just a veiled attack on Nixon’s enemies: anti-war protesters and African Americans. This war, with the enthusiastic participation of subsequent Administrations, has led to the incarceration of hundreds of thousands and destruction of families and neighborhoods. More recently, this war has served as an excuse to militarize America’s police forces, with disastrous results.
Flag lapel pins mandatory GOP patriots viciously attacked Barack Obama and questioned his love for America because he wasn’t wearing a flag lapel pin. All true patriots wear them, most notably the puppets of the Koch Brothers who cut taxes for the rich to the point that government at all levels can scarcely function, except to borrow money and wage never-ending war. These patriotic flag pin wearers also shut down the government and have refused to fill vacancies in our courts, including, of course, the Supreme Court.
Let’s not give Obama a pass either. He let bygones be bygones with war criminals like G.W. Bush, Cheney, and John Yoo, but brought down the wrath of God on whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning for exposing crimes. Likewise, the Wall Street banksters, who stole billions of dollars and destabilized our economy, were left to blissfully continue their crimes, while police in riot gear beat and maced peaceful protesters of the Occupy movement.
You see, Coach, some of us have come to realize that these flag waving, National- Anthem-singing patriots aren’t on our side. So excuse me while I take a knee with Kaepernick and exercise my Constitutional right to speak up in dissent. It’s what our Founding Fathers would have done.
By the way, Coach, how dare you suggest that we leave the country just because we disagree with you.