Tuesday, September 13, 2016

a moment of clarity.


"...When a black American protests the demoralizing practices of American government, there is always a white person eager to unfurl the welcome mat to Africa. This is where racism and patriotism tend to point: toward the exits. For some, we learn, being American is conditional on behaving like a grateful guest: You belong here because we tolerate your presence. We don’t yet appear to have settled the matter of citizenship — not even for our president, another black man backhandedly accused of harboring terrorist sympathies. We operate on the old logic that only members of the family are allowed to tell hard truths about the family’s flaws. And when black people speak about America, they’re informed that they do not actually have a seat at the grown-ups’ table and that they should be grateful to be around at all.

 ...Whiteness and America have always been kept synonymous, conjoined, fiercely paired. Attempts to problematize that marriage — to open it up and show whom it excludes — are reliably met with fear and resistance. New expressions of patriotism always make certain white people fear that a wedge is being driven between them and their America — whether by Muhammad Ali’s refusal to be inducted into the Army, or by Black Lives Matter, or by a backup quarterback for the 49ers. The fear is almost as old as the nation. Sometimes it feels as if the fear is the nation.

Love of country can be tender, of course. It can also be tough, and that toughness can be expressed zealously, too. Jones and Kaepernick both amplify the idea that patriotism doesn’t mean much if a citizen can’t ask what it’s good for or examine its elasticity. Kaepernick has vowed not to stand for the anthem until the injustices he has enumerated have been meaningfully addressed. He’s worried for his country. I’m worried for his knees."

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Who Gets to Be Called a ‘Patriot’?

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