The hypocrisy of using Patriotism to attack the Constitution
This article will be condensed into 2 parts. The first will focus on the logic and technical merits, and the 2nd part will be personal and more broadly speculative.
Patriotism can be weird. If you question the extent of someone’s nationalism, you will get contempt, scorn or outrage. But I see this outrage as being manufactured, a mere recreational version of outrage. This is especially handy to those in mock outrage when they are using “patriotic” arguments that cannot hold their own weight to brush with a broad black and white paint stroke over highly complex social issues. Kaepernick’s kneeling to the national anthem has launched a counter-movement against his intentions, which if I may extrapolate them simply, are to bring education and awareness to the issue of discrimination and inequality within America.
So let us start with the premise;
“If you do not support the flag, then you do not support the Troops”
Before we can begin to understand how truly hypocritical the usage of this “patriotism” is, I think we need to first establish some basic facts, such as “What makes us American?” And by that, I do not mean for us to Wax Philosophical on the question, but to pose it as a legal question. The basic answer, feelings aside, is the Constitution. It is through Citizenship, which grants us our constitutional rights, that legally makes us Americans. Whether through birth, or given through immigration, once citizenship has been granted we are all equally as American. In opposite, denaturalization, or renouncing your citizenship, is a way to unbecome an American.
Proof #1 = Being granted Constitutional rights is what makes us American.
The next step in dissecting what I call the “Support The Troops” Non-Sequitur argument is to understand what makes a Troop? Well, that one is quite clear. We have a clear documented history of the Military Oaths. Let us start with the early days;
“ The first oath under the Constitution was approved by Act of Congress 29 September 1789 (Sec. 3, Ch. 25, 1st Congress). It applied to all commissioned officers, noncommissioned officers and privates in the service of the United States. It came in two parts, the first of which read: “I, A.B., do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the constitution of the United States.” The second part read: “I, A.B., do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) to bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully, against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and to observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States of America, and the orders of the officers appointed over me.” The next section of that chapter specified that “the said troops shall be governed by the rules and articles of war, which have been established by the United States in Congress assembled, or by such rules and articles of war as may hereafter by law be established.””
Now that we’ve established the history of the first oath, let’s fast forward to what the induction Oath stands at today;
“ “I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).”
If you do not swear this oath, then you are not allowed to serve any U.S. based military. If you do swear this oath, then you are inducted into your service to this country. So let us be clear, just as it is the Constitution that makes a American a American, it is the Oath sworn at induction that makes a Service man a Service man (or woman). Let us also be clear, this is not about “feelings” of what it means to serve, but instead about the legal application of the induction to become a service member. This oath is so important that it was used in the Nuremberg Trials.
During the Iran-Contra hearings of 1987, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, a decorated World War II veteran and hero, told Lt. Col. Oliver North that North was breaking his oath when he blindly followed the commands of Ronald Reagan. As Inouye stated, “The uniform code makes it abundantly clear that it must be the Lawful orders of a superior officer. In fact it says, ‘Members of the military have an obligation to disobey unlawful orders.’ This principle was considered so important that we — we, the government of the United States — proposed that it be internationally applied in the Nuremberg trials.”
When the U.S. tried Nazi war criminals and did not allow them to use the reason or excuse that they were only “following orders” as a defense for their war crimes which resulted in the deaths of millions of innocent men, women, and children. In 1953, the Department of Defense adopted the principles of the Nuremberg Code as official policy” of the United States. (Hasting Center Report, March-April 1991)
In order to understand why this is so important, you must look at the oath itself. “I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;” ….. “according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”[bold emphasis mine]
As the oath states, you must not only support the constitution, but defend it against all enemies, foreign and domestic. As noted above, Senator Inouye, a decorated WWII vet and hero, challenged Oliver North on breaking his military oath for “blindly following orders”. This is a example of how a soldier needs to defend against domestic enemies of the constitution, this case, of the highest position….the President! We’ve already established above that this Military Code was not only used in court proceedings as rational to indict Nazi Officers, preventing them from using the “Well I was just acting on my superior’s orders” excuse, but it also became Official Policy for the Department Of Defense. The Uniform Code Of Military Justice, also….
makes it clear that military personnel need to obey the “lawful command of his superior officer,” 891.ART.91 (2), the “lawful order of a warrant officer”, 892.ART.92 (1) the “lawful general order”, 892.ART.92 (2) “lawful order”. In each case, military personnel have an obligation and a duty to only obey Lawful orders and indeed have an obligation to disobey Unlawful orders, including orders by the president that do not comply with the UCMJ. The moral and legal obligation is to the U.S. Constitution and not to those who would issue unlawful orders, especially if those orders are in direct violation of the Constitution and the UCMJ.
The point of dissecting all of these various oaths, military law and congressional hearings is so that we can understand the greater context of what it actually means to serve your country. Serving your country is upholding and defending the Constitution, as clearly defined above.
Serving your country is not so that you can create your own personal laundry list of things you approve or disapprove of other citizens doing, but so that all citizens can do with their free will whatever they desire, so long as they do not infringe upon others liberties. That’s what “freedom” means. This means that as a service member, you will be possibly giving up your life so that people all over the USA will be doing things that you personally disapprove of, though well within their constitutional rights.
Proof #2 = It is the oath to support and defend the Constitution that makes a individual a service member.
Now to the last part of the “Support The Troops” argument, which is, the United States Flag. The flag of course is a symbol for the USA. It can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but I think that just about everyone can agree that the flag itself is a representation of America itself. The 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 states of the United States of America.
Proof #3 = The US flag is a symbol for the USA.
To summarize, there is a false dichotomy of using patriotism as a strawman argument. Patriotism, while widely defined, can at least be agreed as a basic premise as supporting the constitution. If you are unsure about this, then you should merely ask yourself if you think someone attacking the Bills of Rights is patriotic? It is of course the opposite of patriotic and the oath military members swear is clear. Those who attack the Constitution are enemies of the state. I think some soldiers forget this oath when they are expressing their personal values in public forums. If that does not clarify it for you, then perhaps you should recognize it is the Constitution that holds the entirety of American Society together. I can think of nothing less patriotic than advocating for the strengthening of glue that holds civilization together, to what makes us all Americans. To suggest otherwise would be to embrace Anarchy.
So using Patriotism in the form of supporting the Military to attack the Constitution, something that Service members are sworn to defend……well, you can see how hypocritical this is. The argument is illogical and is a literal example of Orwell’s infamous DoubleSpeak. It is a Non-Sequitur, a premise that does not match the conclusion. The premise is “supporting the troops” and the conclusion is the suppression of speech. Since we’ve now illustrated with crystal clarity that these two ideologies are contradictory, then we can now establish that there then must be some other reason to explain the behavior of these individuals. I understand that people can just be naive, and I also understand that racism is commonly subconscious. Yet just because a agenda is subconscious, does not mean it does not exist. Can we ignore those who use illogical arguments to pervertedly accuse others of nefarious behavior, while they are themselves the ones who are distorting meanings to justify their bigotry? That’s quite the double standard, and when people attack others, while engaging in fraud then I bow to the advice of Nassim Taleb in his first ethical rule;
Though I feel the above is enough to demonstrate my formal arguments against this particular bigoted narrative, I would like to also provide some data points to illustrate why the people making these arguments are guilty of false dichotomy, or simply “Black and White” thinking. Kaepernick is using his voice to bring awareness to what is a seemingly never ending struggle in our society;
Discrimination & Inequality.
If you support racial discrimination, then you are by definition a racist. If your argument is to deny that Discrimination & Inequality exists, then these data points are for you. Otherwise, we must assume that you are against Discrimination & Inequality, and therefore are supportive of Kaepernick.
#1 A published study that shows “evidence of a significant bias in the killing of unarmed black Americans relative to unarmed white Americans, in that the probability of being black, unarmed, and shot by police is about 3.49 times the probability of being white, unarmed, and shot by police on average.”
#2 An independent analysis of Washington Post data on police killings found that, “when factoring in threat level, black Americans who are fatally shot by police are, in fact, less likely to be posing an imminent lethal threat to the officers at the moment they are killed than white Americans fatally shot by police.” According to one of the report’s authors, “The only thing that was significant in predicting whether someone shot and killed by police was unarmed was whether or not they were black. . . . Crime variables did not matter in terms of predicting whether the person killed was unarmed.”
#3 The fact that black men have nearly six times the incarceration rate of whites, making African Americans nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population while being only 12% of the American population. If you‘re thinking’ “Well that’s just because black people commit more crime!”, then please explain why, for example, black people and white people smoke marijuana at similar rates, yet black people are 3.7 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.
#4 When black people are convicted of a crime, they are more likely to be sentenced to incarceration compared to whites convicted of the same crime. When a person is convicted of a crime, a judge often has discretion in determining whether the defendant will be incarcerated or given a less severe punishment such as probation, community service, or fines. One study found that in a particular region blacks were incarcerated for convicted felony offenses 51% of the time while whites convicted of felonies were incarcerated 38% of the time. The same study also used an empirical approach to determine that race, not confounded with any other factor, was a key determinant in judges’ decisions to incarcerate.
#5 If all of this data was not enough to convince you that there are problems that exist right now, how about taking a look at the source of it all? If you didn’t already know the “War on Drugs” was specifically created to attack “The anti-war left and Black people”.
When you take all of these facts into account, the picture is very clear. There are still race wars going on today, and black people and minorities are targets.
So even if you disagree with Kaepernick’s act of kneeling to the flag during the anthem, you can at least admit that he is using his voice to advocate for policy change to literally save the lives of American citizens. He’s trying to do good for society by bringing attention to what are ultimately, lives at stake. Let’s also recognize that his protest is peaceful. He’s not doing it because he hates America, he’s doing it because he see’s wrong, and using his voice bring attention to those wrongs. Would you lick the fingers of a master that beats you daily? Why should he bow before a symbol that engages in systematic discrimination that costs untold American lives?
If the final thing that these individuals have is merely disgust at someone not being as patriotic as them, then I would like to ask these people How They Think America Was Created? And are they Ignoring all of the wrong in today’s world?
From HSBC getting a slap on the wrist for laundering BILLIONS of Mexican Cartel Drug Money, to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) referring 25 cases to the Justice Department for potential prosecution for the 2008 financial crisis, with the DOJ completely ignoring those recommendations and indicting no one. History, especially recently, has shown us that the richest people can get away with doing billions of dollars of damages to society, reaping in billions of profits, while if you steal a candy bar you may face life in prison. If we all stick our heads in the sand and ignore the corruption that exists, then that’s not being patriotic, that’s being part of the problem. Blind Allegiance is what causes these problems.
Certainly there is a reason to be suspicious of the The Two-Tier Justice System, and those who allow it to continue.
Questioning authority to the point of rebellion is what America was built upon. It is this healthy skepticism that keeps this country from being entirely co-opted. I say the word entirely, because democracy has been proven to no longer exist in America. I do not need to remind these folks that the 2nd amendment was created so that we may always bear arms, even to the point of a revolution, overthrowing our government if need be. Our constitution was written with rebellion against our own government in mind. So one could not exactly say its unpatriotic to be rebellious. Our would these individuals prefer a military state, where a dictator forces allegiance through a oath to themselves, instead of the constitution, like Hitler?
Of all the arguments I’ve heard against Kaepernick, none of them have held water, and all of them merely disguised discriminatory thoughts. The first step to becoming a better person is admitting your flaws. We can all do better for this world and the people we love.
Its 1989 and I’ve just finished strapping my inner tube around the trucks of my knock off Powell Peralta skateboard. Me and my best friend are headed across the street to the elementary school where there is a sloped wave of concrete that was adjacent to a stair set. We would spend hours doing our best to crest the top of the tar wave, cutting back, power sliding and occasionally using those cheater tubes to bust a ollie.
Those were warm memories for me at age seven. Thinking of those days makes me feel reminiscent in a way one would get watching The Endless Summer. They were filled with the joy and exuberance that you can only have as a child. What different times those were. Most of the kids I was surrounded by had long hair, wore shredded jeans and listened to Iron Maiden or Pantera. Terms like “Fag” and “Nigger” were thrown around as often as “Please” and “Thank you’s” would be from a Southerner.
Jump forward 2 years to 1991 and Tribe Called Quest just released The Low End Theory, I was hooked. Already playing De La Soul and The Pharcyde on my Walkman, I was transported into a new world. And while I still had guilty pleasures like Weird Al Yankovic, I mostly listened to hip hop. It was around then that I started questioning why everyone hated black people so much. Being brought up in a culture of Racism, it becomes embedded within your psyche, so deep that even 20 years later, here I am still struggling to overcome these inner voices. Its pretty easy to understand why white people are so racist. It’s no more difficult to understand then why french people have a accent, when you speak a specific way so often it sticks with you your entire life. Battling this deep rooted hate culture has been something I’ve spared special attention to these last few years.
Fast forward to today, 2016, and I’m incredibly proud of the sociological progress American society has accomplished. In less than 2 decades, hate terms like “Fag” and “Nigger” have been stigmatized by the majority of society, and we have much more broad social acceptance of people of all races, genders and lifestyles. Racism is something that while still being a dominant force, we’ve swept it under the rug. Today politicians don’t use hate terms, they just engage in doublespeak like “Cutting social programs”& “Urban Redevelopment”, which are actions specifically targeted towards those minorities of color.
But Houston, we have a problem. Its so huge that even Donald Trump’s vernacular would have a hard time describing it. Its something that’s so common, so pervasive, that I’ve had a field day upsetting a great number of “friends” on facebook, pointing out to them some concerning racist doublespeak.
The problem is blind patriotic allegiance used to attack complex social issues with black and white premises. And by black and white I don’t mean race, I mean polarizing a issue so that you stand on one side without examining the middle ground, or even just doing basic fact checking.
Some of these people are practically family, I’ve known them my whole life, and others are respectable individuals in my social circles. But none of these people are bad people. Most of them even post-social-media-blowout I still hold a great deal of respect for. They are for the most part amazing individuals who have served for our country in various military positions, engaged in humanitarian efforts, helped build our industry and served the public in various positions. So it’s been one of the most personally frustrating struggles of my life, suffering great unhappiness, hurting and destroying relationships, all so that I can try to make these people see the light. It’s important to me, because these people are respected. And if you can get people in respected positions saying the right things instead of the wrong things, then you start to have a network effect.
But the things they are saying are racist, even if they do not intention it that way. They are best case scenario being intellectually dishonest and not examining their own doctrine, worst case scenario being outright racist. They will deny it with every last breath, but they are so deeply rooted in a racist culture, that they don’t even realize their own self deception. Question them, and its as if you are questioning their religion. How dare you question their relationship with god! “I am good a person , I would never engage in hateful racist agenda!” “What about “XYZ” that I’ve done for society?” “What about my black friends who don’t see a problem with my facebook posts?” But some of these people I know very personally. So it’s not just their posts of disguised or subconscious racism, but a history of being connected to their personal life that has shown me direct examples of their unquestionable racism. And when you see these people making these same posts as other people, well, the saying “Birds of the same feather flock together” comes to mind.
Making these people understand seems next to impossible. Most live in their own echo chambers and refuse to listen to anything but what they want to hear. But, I’ve put together a series of logical proofs in part 1 that anyone can read with their own two eyes, observe the evidence empirically and agree that yes, these things are true. And once you admit to yourself that these things are true, then you cannot deny this perversion of “patriotism” being used as a shield for racism exists, and is used commonly throughout our society.
What makes our country great, ultimately, is our freedom. Our freedom to choose to do what we want, without persecution from our government is something to be extremely patriotic about. The Constitutional rights granted at birth is something that deserves extreme patriotism. It is this freedom that has allowed for civilized society to become what it is. All of the progress is because individuals did not need to be granted permission to pursue their dreams.
Even though you may not personally like it, what someone chooses to do with their voice, their actions or their dreams is their right. When you attack someone’s freedom of speech, you are literally attacking the constitution. If you are a Military man who has sworn that oath, and you see someone attacking someone else’s constitutional rights, then by that oath you are sworn to defend them, from both enemies domestic and foreign.
So to attack Kaepernick’s freedom of expression, a constitutional right, as a excuse to “Support the Troops”, you can see now clearly that you’ve hypocritically perverted the meaning of what it means to be a service member to further personal bigotry. If you want to support the troops, then you should be supporting them in the ways they need. You should be fighting for VA benefits and other social programs aimed at helping our combat veterans. You should be against neo-con war machine propaganda, because what kills soldiers and damages Vets for life is War. Unless you want to see your friends die or come home crippled? War is not a economic opportunity, and seeing it that way is absolutely sickening. Most importantly, you should be supporting the constitution, the document that makes this country possible and gives you your voice.
This ideological stance that if you do not support war, you are not patriotic is to me intellectual dishonesty at best. I would refer to the great General Butler, one of the most decorated Generals of Military History, who wrote the illuminating book War is a Racket. From the Intro on the subject of War;
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
Is it really patriotic to profit off the lives of Americans? War always has been, and always will be, Big Business. The issue of allowing our Military to Co-Opt our government and to engage in perpetual war is something that George Orwell wrote about in 1984, but something that was so important that our esteemed President Eisenhower used it as the subject of his Farewell Address to the American Public.
Please do not make the mistake of thinking that because service men you know feel strongly about the issue, that thereby supporting them, you are “Supporting the Troops”, you are not. You are merely supporting individual opinions. Individual opinions does not make for the global opinion of the military. It is the oath to uphold and defend the constitution that makes these men into what they are. And if you are a military man, breaking your oath should shame you. How could you risk your life for this country, only to come home and forswear your oath and to attack the constitution?
I know that Service men will get enraged by people being allegedly disrespectful to the flag. But how is it any different than these same men hypocritically attacking the constitution? What represents America better, a dyed piece of cloth? Or the legal document that literally makes us American? But the world is not black and white. Our government is not filled with perfect humans. This is during a period of history in which American’s hold an all time low approval rating for Congress. How can you be so disenfranchised with our government, and not recognize that there are things clearly wrong with society? There is no perfect government. We can all agree politicians are corrupt, so why can you see this but not understand that those same politicians that make up the government, makes for a corrupt government in general?
To my friends who got called out, I am not sorry that this has offended you. Please recall that you were the one using an illogical argument seeded with a racist agenda, subconscious or unintended, and it does not change the facts or the reality of the impact that agenda has on society. You should be held to the same standard as those who unwillingly commit crimes, and ignorance is no get out of jail free card for anything in life.
It was the only way that you could get outside of your own little box and think about the complexity of these issues. To challenge your own previously held views. Some of you will come out of this as better humans. Some of you will eventually apologize and thank me for helping you see the bigger picture. Just know that many people, friends of ours in private confirmed to me that your posts bothered them, some to the point that they deleted you. Most of you, the skeptic inside me, reckons that you won’t make it this far and you will have discarded anything I wrote 1 paragraph into this article. To those folks, there is no hope. How can you help someone if they refuse to educate themselves on the facts, to remain willfully ignorant? Remember that you can use the position of your public authority within your inner circles to do good, or to perpetuate hate and segregation. Which would you rather do?