Kneeling During the Pledge is Good for Our Democracy
The American Flag, like the country it represents, is not perfect. The American Constitution is a normative construction of how freedom, justice, and equity should be applied to all people. The constitution leaves it up to its citizens to translate its normative philosophy into empirical policy. The constitution is an IKEA manual that tells you how wonderful your new furniture is without actually telling you how to build it. Is this gap frustrating? Yes. Will the gap ever disappear? Most likely not. If we can both agree that humans are imperfect then how can we expect ourselves to be the perfect messengers of perfect ideals? It is not a secret that the United States has empirically fallen short of its normative ideals but what nation has not?
So should we accept this gap as an unfortunate impenetrable obstacle for human progress? American history tells us no. The United States is not a perfect nation but it has created variables that strive to act asymptotically to the normative ideals contained within its constitution. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is not a perfect manifestation of equal rights, it is an asymptotic one. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 actualized a variation of equal rights for minorities that was empirically closer to its normative variation but it is still fell short. Advocating for changes that will make our democracy better is our way of recalibrating the asymptotic features of our government so that they edge ever empirically closer to the normative ideals of the constitution. I hope to live to see an America where our government provides an empirical variation of justice that is 99.999999999% similar to its normative cousin in the constitution, but even then it will still fall short.
This is the cyclical experiment that our American constitution inspires. We may never reach the normative standards contained within our constitution but we will always strive for ever improving empirical variations of those normative standards. Kneeling during the pledge, rejecting the way that extremists hoist the flag as evidence for their poisonous beliefs are not “Un-American” attitudes, they are attitudes that communicate a modern empirical to normative gap in justice that people are facing. Listening and correcting for these gaps is what allows us to edge empirically closer to our normative ideals as a nation, its what allows us to incrementally actualize a stronger and better democracy. Not listening or portraying such actions as ban worthy or illegitimate contradicts the progress that the constitution expects from us.