Double V for Victory, “Victory at home and Victory away,” is a statement with a connotation that is still prevalent today. The rhythm of this sentence represents the almost theatre like performance of how some veterans and politicians in the United States claim civil activism against the idea of the American flag is “Un-American.”
We see people like Donald Trump whining about the un-patriotic protesters of the flag like Colin Kaepernick and others in the NFL and yet when I see his rhetoric on such, it reminds me of his own denial of patriotic action.
What would the deceased Senator Daniel Inouye say if he saw politicians saying protesting the flag was “Un-American” and anti-Veteran? He wasn’t even considered American as he was both fighting for his country and the lives of himself and those around him. But still, Japanese-Americans like himself were illegally detained under the guise of a presidential order that seemed to change what was American and wasn’t overnight.
Nationalism and nation building might have been controlled by the military and the US government, but in the 20th and 21st century our country has been embraced by the warm and comforting feeling of civil and legislative action that attacks these pillars of U.S nationalism. We as an American people might be brandished by the toxic scorns of racism, xenophobia, misogyny and white-ethno nationalism but that does not mean that’s what defines us.
The constitution is a living document, so why does nationalism seem to be the equivalent of beating a dead, racist horse. I call out these things because as we look at the American political landscape, we may see a prevalent theme of ignorance formed around what can be protested and what cannot. So far, many conservative leaning politicians, citizens and business persons find protesting the flag more repugnant protesting a woman’s right to choose the fate of their own bodies.
The U.S flag is not some stationary object that represents America in a positive light. It stands for all of America and when we generalize someone’s protest against the flag, we start to ignore the reasons why they are protesting.
I respect Colin Kaepernick. I take that back. I want to strive to be like Kaepernick because he represents the ultimate purveyor of freedom of speech. He puts the rights of his own culture and background before his own financial and societal stability.
This is something I see represented in athletes of antiquity, like Muhammad Ali, who’s famous words on the Vietnam war still echo in the American consciousness today.
“I got nothing against no Viet Cong,” Ali said. “No Vietnamese ever called me a n****r.”
This quote shows us why it’s important to understand that the protest against the policy and actions of some Americans and governmental entities does not mean the wholesale denial and disrespect to a nation, but rather against specific problems one takes with a nations actions.
This generalization is an action taken by government infrastructure to ensure that national rhetoric on a subject that breaches the ideas of what some consider U.S nationalism, becomes associated with something ‘unpatriotic.’
This is where the fallacy and mythos of nationalism becomes involved because as we stride closer and closer to a world where people live in diverse communities of all religions, ethnicities and cultures, we will begin to understand Nationalism as the barrier it is rather than the culture and history it supposedly represents.
So as Colin Kaepernick becomes the pariah of all supposedly patriotic citizens, he also becomes the hero of all those who are deemed not.