It seems that in America, “patriotism” is defined not as love for country but blind allegiance to and worship for it. To question or display hesitation toward anything “America” does quickly earns a person the label “unpatriotic.” When the nation attempted to draft Muhammad Ali into service during the Vietnam War, Ali objected on religious grounds but also made it quite clear that he was unconvinced of the legitimacy of the war, particularly as a black man. He said, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?” Ali was quickly labeled unpatriotic.

In addition to not blindly supporting atrocities and military aggression, one can quickly be labeled unpatriotic for failing to worship the Constitution. The Tea Party’s rise highlighted this in a fresh way. Their obsession with the Constitution even prompted House Republicans to propose it be read in its entirety from the House floor in early 2011. The unbridled worship of the Constitution has been a constant theme during the Obama presidency. The casual observer will notice that just about every criticism leveled at him has been accompanied by some reference to how he does not regard the Constitution; more like worship, I would say.

I find it troubling that any thinking individual could give blind allegiance to any governing body or find it improper to challenge and critique it. If history is any indication, governments left unchecked tend toward corruption and oppression. Also, any allegiance- blind included- must be rooted in trust. For black people, that trust is still wanting.  

The quest for trust and belonging is deeply complicated when you are not only a misfit but are in fact pushed out. This has been the black experience in America.  The infamous 1958 “Kissing Case in Monroe, North Carolina, serves as but one of millions of examples. In it, two black boys- ages 7 and 9- were pursued by townspeople with shotguns, arrested and beaten in a lower-level cell of a police station, denied legal counsel and told they might be freed when they were 21 years old. Their crime? The nine year old allowed a white girl to kiss him on the cheek during a kissing game. 

Trust is further retarded when we’ve given the country our ultimate sacrifice- our blood- and received insult in return. We served in World War I while lynchings were still common at home. Even so, the U.S pressured its French allies to issue a memorandum, the infamous “Secret Information Concerning Black American Troops.” It warned that French attitudes toward blacks were a threat to the U.S social order and instructed the French on how to treat blacks. In it, French officers were warned to keep their distance from black troops, avoid praising them and to keep them away from French women. More insulting, black soldiers returning from the war were lynched in their uniforms.

So no, sufficient trust does not exist to render blind allegiance and say amen to every action of the country, domestic or foreign. It has been proven over and over that there must be loving critique. No, I cannot worship a document, the Constitution, which defines me as 3/5 of a man. If those are the prerequisites to pass the patriotism test, I gladly flunk that exam.

5 comments

Duane Terrell

Sigh…. where do I begin?

First, I suppose I should say that you are right, blind allegiance to anything is not healthy.

Second, How many more times must America aplogize for its past injustices? Surely you wouldn't want to have to aplogoize over and over again regarding something that happened in your past. That is not to say things like never happen today is just that today those things would be unacceptable.

Third, the consitution seems to be another area you need help. The consitution does not define you as 3/5 a man. Try reading it sometimes. Do you even know what the purpose of the consitution is? You talk about corruption and oppression but you seem to have no idea how the consitution limits that. Now, back to the 3/5 lie. The consitution says that 3 out of every 5 slaves will be counted as persons to determine the total population of a state. The total population of a stae determines how many representatives its gets in congress. The more represetatives a state has the more power it has. THerefore, the comprise was put in place so that southern states culd not get full credit for its slaves while dening slaves the freedom they were attemting to preserve. They should have counted 0/5 of slaves as population for this purpose.

It never cease to amaze me how many blacks "bitch" about the 3/5 compromise who never take the time to learn why it existed and understand 3/5 was actually better than 5/5.

D.M Hopewell

First we should be honest historically here. In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed a joint resolution of Congress that is sometimes referred to as the “Apology Resolution.” In effect, the resolution acknowledged that the United States was active in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893. The U.S Congress passed this and the president signed it. Nothing like this has ever been done over the matter of slavery, neo-slavery or any of the millions of atrocities committed against black people. So when you say the nation has repeatedly done so, that is completely dishonest.

As for the 3/5 thing, yes, technically you might argue those states having 3/5 as opposed to 5/5 is better. However, you miss the spirit of what i and other that complain about it are saying. The issue is that the constitution was written under circumstances in which north and south were completely ok with blacks not being recognized as fully human- period. Matters not how much or less that was true of this senator or that state. so, 3/5 is a way of summarizing that argument. don't miss the forest for the trees…

Duane Terrell

"So, when you say the nation has repeatedly done so, that is completely dishonest" – ARe you serious? OVer 500 thousand people died fighthing the civil war. Many whites risked their lives and fortunes guiding slaves to the north and participating in the civil rights movement. Whites in general apolgoize every times these things are mentioned. Many whites today bend over backwards for race issues and when racists rear their ugly head whites are some of the 1st people to shoot them down and that isn't enough?

So you bring out this "Hawaiian Kingdom" apology from 1992 that only you and your best friend know about. I bet you Clinton doesn't even remember it. I din't even know we were involved in anything about Hawaii in 1893. So Clinton aplogoized on behalf of America. Big deal. Who gave a crap about that situaiton? Is that what you want? A bunch of meaningless political apologizes that people don't care about?

"However, you miss the spirit of what i and other that complain about " – This is utter crap. I'm highly pissed that you would even insult my intelligence with this crap. What you said was just complete BS. Anything they did at that time, everything they did, would have been under those circumstances just like everything we do today has the issue of abortion surrounding it. Everything we do today isn't tainted because of the issue of abortion anymore than the consitution or anything they did was tained because of slavery. Every generation has its issue's. I just can't believe you said that. You can't even see the damn tree's let alone the freaking forrest.

"No, I cannot worship a document, the Constitution, which defines me as 3/5 of a man. " – And a heads up!! We don't worship the consitution. It's the freaking rule book of the federal government and peple have a tendency to want to ignore it. It was put in place for a reason, none of which was to define you as 3/5th a man as you claim and people have been claiming since Frederick Douglas yet I missed the freaking spirit? Man plz. That's just some cop out line you use when you wrong as hell and need to aplogize for being wrong but don't want to.

Montoya Smith

Is it's too late to jump into the fray. I'm riding with Terrell on this one, because for all of her faults America has come along way. Your opportunity to freely say what you want comes from the very document you frown upon,DM. Like Terrell said, I think it should be required reading for all Americans. Now,DM,you are absolutely right about being critical to ensure due & proper process. Although it historically came at a very high cost for Blacks, it was the freedom to dissent WRITTEN in the Constitution that led our country to greatness. You have a right to feel how want, but to remain unpatriotic in my opinion does a disservice to those same soldiers who died for the ideals and rights once again written the Constitution. Actually the African Americans soldiers in WWI & WWII referred to it as the Double V. Victory abroad against the Germans, and Victory at home against Jim Crow & oppression. It pains me to think of those soldiers who were burned in their uniforms in 1919. It's an absolutely shameful black eye I refuse to overlook as well. However, I can't overlook that in 2012 not only is this behavior unthinkable, but two white men got the death penalty for dragging a Black man to death a few years ago in Jasper Tx. Of course this doesn't make up for the 3000+ illegal lynchings of Blacks in the Jim Crow South, and I would not suggest we try. A 100yrs ago they would've been heroes in Jasper, Tx, instead they were given the death penalty. So DM,continue the criticism to sustain this country's improvement, but do not fail to see the progress. I just know every African-American that shed blood from Crispus Attucks up to the brothers dying right now in Afghanistan deserve more than our angry dissent. How about a thank you for their service. If there is not another country you would choose to live in, then you have to be at least patriotic to the fact you want to be here.

Montoya from Mental Dialogue
"All I Ask Is That You Think"

D.M Hopewell

thanks for the read everyone. I think we need to keep things in context, however. I started by defining what people "think" is patriotic nowadays. I'm only saying that if that is what qualifies as "patriotic"- blind patriotism and "worship" of a man-made document that has shown the need to be changed and amended- then no, i'm not patriotic. It's all about how you define patriotism.

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