Dear Donny: An Open Letter to El Trumpo

Dear Donny:

Remember how you said you wanted to make America great again? Well, that’s exactly what these kneeling athletes are doing. Like you, they are trying to make America great again. They are calling attention to what they feel are some of the shortcomings of our nation, areas in which can and should improve. Specifically, they are understandably alarmed by the seemingly endless string of police shooting of unarmed black men across America, and the incredible absence of justice on the behalf of these victims, as well as the overall racial injustice and inequity that has plagued our society for far too long.

Now is that disrespectful to our nation and its symbols? Is it any more disrespectful then you saying that America is no longer great, a claim on which you based your entire campaign?

Is it any more disrespectful than when you falsely claimed that the President of the United States – your predecessor, a man who won the popular vote, twice (the first to do so since FDR) – wasn’t even born in America (like two of your three wives), despite indisputable evidence that proved he was indeed born here?

Is it anymore disrespectful than claiming that neo-Nazis and the KKK, people who proudly denounce most of the ideals our nation holds sacred, are on equal footing with those Americans who showed the courage to defend those ideals?

Is it anymore disrespectful than claiming that a decorated war hero, who was tortured after his plane was shot down during battle, defending America’s freedoms in a war that you dodged, claiming that (despite being active in sports) you suddenly had “bone spurs” (a condition which, miraculously, “heeled” itself as soon as the war ended)?

And what about disrespecting the Presidency by spouting endless lies, especially the really sad ones that everyone knows aren’t true? Isn’t that disrespecting America in a far more intentional and impactful way than a handful of protesters silently taking a knee in a league you claim doesn’t have much viewership anyway?

I never understood the blind loyalty that people like you have to our nation and its symbols, until I realized that it’s neither loyalty nor blind. You are the first to bitch, moan, and protest whenever there’s something about America you don’t like. You know, like that time you tweeted that the President shouldn’t be talking about football when “our country has far bigger problems!” But when someone questions the things about America that you happen to like, then you immediately hide behind the flag and pretend that they don’t love our country, that they are disrespecting it, because they happen to be raising a concern you don’t share. That’s how cowards like you operate. You act like everything that comes out of your mouth is the only thing that matters, and whenever anyone questions you or dares to disagree with you, you cry out that they are either espousing fake news or claim that they don’t really love America.

You are the worst kind of hypocrite, Donny. Whenever an American says something about our country that you don’t like, you say shit like, “America, love it or leave it.” Yet you think it’s perfectly acceptable to criticize the country when there’s something about America that you personally don’t like, such as same-sex marriage, reasonably affordable healthcare, or high-placed government officials who use private emails while in office. Oh, wait, strike that last one.

Rather than say “love it or leave it,” why not simply try to change it, try to improve it? That’s all that these protesters are trying to do. And I’m guessing that’s what drove you to run for president, as opposed to your child-like need for attention. After all, if you didn’t like the things that were happening in this country, like these athletes who took a knee, you could have packed up trophy wife #3 along with the rest of your mildly retarded clan and fled to Nambia. You know, love it or leave it, eh?

Where would our nation be if we Americans didn’t protest against the injustices of the world, including right here at home? That’s what has made this country so great. Not a cheap cap with a slogan that did well with focus groups in rural Alabama. Speaking out against injustice is more American than apple pie. In fact, it’s our patriotic duty as Americans to tackle society’s wrongs.

And why are you so upset at people taking a knee during the national anthem? After all, that song, and our flag, are merely symbols of who we are, and how we conduct ourselves. Both were adopted long after ideals like liberty and justice for all. And isn’t that what our flag and anthem represent, things like the right to free speech and equal justice regardless of the color of one’s skin?

Since you are always quick to threaten to sue or imprison those who disagree with you, I assume you agree that our flag stands for the the rule of law. If so, then why are you disrespecting it by suggesting that these protesters be punished for taking a knee? After all, a smart guy like you must know that the United States Supreme Court ruled that Americans do not have to stand and salute the flag (West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnette). Does this mean you don’t believe in the rule of law either?

Ask yourself this: what’s more important, the national anthem or the right to free speech? If you say that national anthem, not only would you make a better North Korean (where worship of national symbols is compulsory) than an American (where, as previously noted, worship of national symbols has been deemed voluntary by the Supreme Court), but you are also betraying your ignorance. The anthem represents free speech, so clearly what the symbol represents is more sacred than the symbol itself.

If you could be honest with yourself for a moment (I know it’s scary, after seven decades of incessant lies, but try to be brave for once in your life), do you think that the real reason you are upset with these people is because they have different views than you? Views that are hard to address, even for a competent leader, let alone someone like you? Or maybe it’s because you are still sore about the NFL giving you the cold shoulder all those years ago?

The truth is that America was founded on protests. Historically, we have always been a people who have rebelled against loudmouth leaders telling us what we can and cannot do. Hell, you can trace it all the way back to the Pilgrims and the Boston Tea Party. Though, I suppose if you were around then (come on, buddy, you’re not quite that old), you would surely have told the King to lock them sons of bitches up.

But let me stop right here, though. I’m sure you haven’t made it this far through the letter – not even if it was burrito night in the West Wing, leaving you with plenty of time on the toilet and little else to do. After all, I know you aren’t a big reader (all those words, and so few boobies!) and have the attention span of a 4 year-old meth head.

The bottom line is that you aren’t going to listen to a word I have said. Just like you won’t listen to the protesters (well, except for those “fine people” marching alongside the local Hitler Youth in West Virginia). I’m sure that by the time you wandered into the second paragraph of this letter, you had already dismissed me as an enemy of the state.

However, on the off chance that you did make it this far (perhaps you have run out of toilet paper and even the Secret Service are pretending they can’t hear you), let me leave you with this thought. If you really are so concerned with whether or not people respect our flag and anthem, then maybe you should focus on giving them more reasons to respect these symbols…and our nation as a whole.

You may stand during the national anthem and salute our flag, but if you do not honor and support the principles and ideals they represent, then you are disrespecting those symbols – and this country – far more than any of these protesters. And it has become painfully clear that you do not, in fact, support the principles and ideals our flag and anthem represent, including the freedom of speech, the rule of law, and justice for all. In fact, you seem to be more interested in the symbols of America than the principles and ideals they represent, which makes you the worst kind of American – a false patriot.

Disrespectfully Yours,

A Kneeling Patriot

A Personal Statement on Human Rights

“If you want Peace, work for Justice.”

Many people attribute that quote to Pope Paul VI. Others have traced it back to Henry Louis Mencken, an American journalist and humorist of the early 20th Century. Frankly, given some of the other views expressed by each of these individuals, I’m not all that eager to credit either of them.

peeseBut the sentiment struck a chord with me when I first came across it, as a 15-year-old activist protesting nuclear proliferation. And I remember my father telling me that it was also a slogan they had used during the Civil Rights movement, in which he proudly participated. This expression has remained with me over the years, helping foster and reinforce the belief that societies cannot truly succeed and prosper until they provide their citizens with the basic human rights – on paper and in practice.

The importance of human rights was once again thrust to the forefront of my thinking in the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001. Having just taken some well-deserved time off, I started to follow the news more closely then, and I was able to do a lot more reading than ever before.

As I became more aware of what was going on in our country and around the world, I noticed an emerging trend that I found particularly disturbing. There has been a growing willingness to abandon freedoms – the rights of the individual – under the presumption that this somehow protects those very same rights. Fear and faith have long been the tools used by tyrants to subvert the rights of the people under the false pretense of safeguarding the public.

This can be seen in the many “illiberal” democracies abroad – such as Russia and Iran – where “democratic” elections are held but there is little or no guarantee of civil liberties. And while faux democracies are hardly new, their acceptance has become increasingly tolerated.

AmeriflagOne of the reasons for this is that we, as a nation, have made democracy – not human rights – the end game of our foreign policy. Not only does this open the door for the compromising of what we have come to know as true, liberal democracy, but it also misses the point. Democracy is a human right – the right to participate in one’s own government – so we should be pursuing a policy of promoting human rights rather than simply focusing one specific right.

And one does not have to look abroad to see the negative effects of this trend. There is a disturbing drift towards the emergence of an illiberal democracy right here in America. The signs are abundant: the rise in religious intolerance, certain clauses of the PATRIOT Act, a number of recent judicial decisions, several practices in the treatment of detainees, sweeping actions against US citizens by organizations like the NSA, and numerous statements by top government officials that are shamelessly biased.

I am deeply troubled by the injustices that are going on around the globe – particularly throughout Africa, Asia, and the Middle East – often by regimes our government considers “friendly” or even “democratic.” But I’m even more disturbed by the backsliding we are seeing here in the United States.

Our government seems to think it has been given a mandate to operate under the rule of war instead of the rule of law, while declaring that this war – against enemies who it claims are “classified” – may last indefinitely. In addition, for the first time since prohibition, we are considering Constitutional amendments that will limit our freedoms instead of expanding them. And while we battle Islamic fundamentalism overseas, many – including a significant number of our leaders – are aggressively embracing Christian fundamentalism here at home.

It is essential that the United States lives up to its ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice. Not just for the future of America, but for the advancement of these ideals around the world. And our failure to do so only serves to encourage those who do not support the universal rights of all – whether they are a global terrorist organization or a former Soviet state.

justessSo if we want peace here in America, and throughout the world, we first need to address the injustices that are occurring around the globe. We can no longer turn away and pretend that it does not concern us. That’s a lesson we should have learned on September 11, 2001.

And if we are to seek justice throughout the world, to defend the basic human rights of all people, we must first begin at home. There is still plenty of injustice here in America, and we need to overcome this if we hope to inspire others to do the same.

That is why the protection of human rights has become such an important cause for me. Not only does it reflect a passion ingrained in my youth, but it is also the key to a better, more peaceful world – America included.

If we want peace, we must work for justice. And until all humans are afforded basic rights – on paper and in practice – there will be no justice.