TRUE PATRIOTS PRACTICE THE CONSTITUTION!
The perversion of what is a “patriot” by right-wingers and racists is breathtaking. Case in point: is it “patriotic” to aim loaded guns and rifles at federal agents and threaten to kill them, as the supporters of Cliven Bundy did in April of this year in Nevada? Bundy—an avowed racist who said in a New York Times interview that “the negro” was better off as a cotton picking slave—refuses to obey the law and pay grazing fees because he doesn’t “…recognize the United States government as even existing.”
Among the Bundy “patriots” were Jerad and Amanda Miller, white supremacists who, after leaving the Bundy ranch, ambushed and murdered two Las Vegas policemen. Another Bundy “patriot” is former Graham County (Arizona) Sheriff Richard Mack, who said in a Fox News interview that in case of a shootout with federal agents, “We (the Bundy ‘patriots’) were actually strategizing to put all the women at the front” so that they could be shot first. Mack went on to say, “I would have put my own wife and daughters there.”
In what perverted universe is ambushing policemen and using children as human shields considered “patriotic?”
Equally breathtaking is the shamelessness of people who claim to be “patriots” as they rally under the Confederate flag. In Murrieta, CA, on July 3, 2014, protesters, some carrying the Confederate flag, swarmed around buses carrying Central American immigrant children, yelling racist taunts and preventing the buses from reaching a federal immigration facility. The Confederate flag is a flag of treason, whose adherents renounced their U.S. citizenship, declared war on our country, and actually tried to overthrow our government so as to continue practicing racism. The ethical calisthenics involved in calling oneself a “patriot” while rallying under a traitorous flag are mind-boggling.
Children being sent to the U.S. to escape violence in their home countries is not novel. During WW II, under the auspices of the U.S. Committee for the Care of European Children (USCOM), European children were evacuated to the U.S. Those children were received with kindness and were fostered by American families. This was considered the decent and “patriotic” thing to do. How times have changed.
Reality check: True patriots do not terrorize children or use them as human shields. True patriots don’t threaten to kill federal employees for doing their job. True patriots don’t murder police officers in ambush.
Susan B. Anthony and her followers insisted that democracy is gender neutral. John Scopes and Clarence Darrow fought for the separation of church and state. Rosa Parks put into practice the declarations of equality in our founding documents. Black young men and women ordered food at lunch counters in unpatriotic stores that discriminated. Black and white Freedom Riders practiced democracy by registering people to vote. Martin Luther King, Jr. galvanized the country around our constitution’s precepts. Larry Itliong and César Chávez fought non-violently to include farm workers in the blanketing warmth of our constitution’s protections.
It’s not easy being a true patriot. The above practitioners of the constitution were ostracized, demonized, jailed, beaten, and some were even killed for actually practicing the constitution.
But one doesn’t have to be “famous” to be a history-making patriot. Every community has its local patriots. Here in Tucson, there’s Juan Muñoz, who, in pursuit of self-determination for the Yoeme people, founded the Old Pascua Yaqui Village. And Dr. Herman Bendell, the first Jewish Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Arizona, who, in the service of separation of church and state and tribal self-determination, refused to allow proselytizing among the tribes.
Enrique “Hank” Oyama successfully challenged Arizona’s miscegenation law. Julia Soto was a one-person civil-rights agency for barrio children. Ed Morgan successfully defended the first-amendment rights of Vern and Barbara Elfbrandt before the U.S. Supreme Court. Maclovio Barraza, Eddie Jackson, Rudy García, Héctor Morales, and Luis Gonzales integrated Tucson’s political structure.
We have hundreds of Mexican American high-school students who walked out of school and started a movement that led to the revamping of the local school system and university students who built bridges between the university and the barrios. We have clergy who founded the Sanctuary movement that saved countless lives. We have people who organized a national movement that led to the first-ever prosecution of people who tortured Mexican farm workers. And many, many more.
These patriots are of different generations, genders, religions, races and ethnicities, and they practiced the constitution at different times of our history. And herein lies the richness and strength of our country: patriots come in all guises and flavors, and they’re everywhere—in our history and in our present. They are simultaneously proactive practitioners of the constitution and the loyal opposition, indispensable arms of a healthy and robust democracy.
Every community is rich with true patriots. A bit of research will unearth your community’s patriots. Learn about them, teach about them. And most importantly, we should all practice the constitution. This is the best way to get the patriot pretenders to crawl back under their rocks. c/s
Copyright by Salomon Baldenegro. To contact Salomon write: firstname.lastname@example.org