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Following the Civil War, the United States became a great experiment, with groups of men looking to political and economic philosophers of the day for a leadership style that would give citizens liberty not seen anywhere else in the world. Using John Locke's principles, the founding fathers made a critical decision to incorporate the concepts of natural rights, existence, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness into the cornerstone of our democracy. These privileges, however, did not apply to everyone. In our world, at the moment, the only role is for a small few. Chiefly, white landowners.
As time went, our new form of representative democracy allowed our country to change and grow with the court of public opinion and in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation in order to free slaves working within plantation around the southern states. This didn’t not give the freed African Americans equal rights. Jim Crow laws and massive voter suppression made sure that these communities remained second class.
Again in a victory for our new form of ever changing government, in 1918 Women were granted the right to vote. The again was a step forward for the United States, but was not the end of the conversation.
Time and time again, we as American stand up and use the rights of freedom of speech, and peaceful assembly to bring attention to issues facing us, or issues facing those in our country. This can be termed as being patriotic and at the same time an act of nationalism. This is because the fact that we are devoted to both our rights as well as the wellbeing of the country. Similarly, by engaging in peaceful assembly and not only highlighting the issues that face us but the entire nation is an act of nationalisms. In order to comprehend more on the distinction between patriotism and nationalism is advisable to consider both definitions of the terms.
Patriotism is an act of love for a nation and respect to the nation’s philosophies and ideals accompanied with a devotion to what is stipulated in the nations constitution. This is then followed by a defense of one’s country as an act of national of national loyalty. Nationalism on the other hand is loyalty or devotion to one’s country with regards with common aspirations common to the whole nation which then elicits the feeling of superiority due the fact that one feels he/she is part of a particular nation since its his/her place of birth. It is also the desire by an individual for national advancement or political independence by putting the interests of one’s country first before individual interests. The principle of nationalism is based on the belief that the interests of a particular nations is of great significance than the interests of an individual. It also based on the belief that a people who share a common culture, history or language constitute an independent nation that is not subject to foreign influence. This paper analyzes issue of blind nationalism associated with Americans and whether or not this is the case.
Thesis statement: Americans are falling in line with the ideas of blind nationalism, and are clinging to symbols rather than the truly American ideals those symbols stand for.
Presentation of Issue
Americans tend to cling to the symbols of the American nation rather than what the symbols do stand for or advocate for. Some of the common symbols used in the American nation and often misinterpreted include the symbols, “White lives matter” Unite the right” and: Take a knee”. The battle over symbols, language and history have literally blinded Americans on what nationalism entails and on the realities the political situation in the nation. For example, events that ensued at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville clearly reflected on the ignorance of Americans on what symbols represent as this led an attack on a white person who is clobbered and beaten by a mob with no particular reason. This showed that the Americans involved in the unfortunate scene are clearly unaware of the meaning and interpretation of the symbol of “Unite the Right” which in this case is violated as they unite to violate the right of an individual. With regards with the common symbol of “ White Lives matter” former Texas A&M student had organized a "White Lives Matter" rally that did not achieve the intended goal and objectives of the symbol as it ended up being chaotic in contrast the Charlottesville Unite the Right protests ended up not being peaceful and unorganized which is against the nation’s philosophy’s of patriotism and nationalism which calls for Americans to be entire peaceful and conduct peaceful assemblies and no chaotic protests that end up harming the nation as well as its citizens.
This calls for the abolishment of some symbols that are unnecessary and controversial in the united states. A perfect example of a recent controversy on the “Take a Knee” symbol is when one of a player in a team was kicked out of the team because of not observing “Take a Knee” symbol. This became a controversial issue that attracted the attention of many Americans. It therefore demands for amendments of rights of protests and peaceful assemblies as well as the right to freedom to speech. Americans should be educated and made aware of these rights as well as when this rights are violated and the limits that these rights ought to be enjoyed.
A legal framework of implementation of the imminent lawless action so as to limit the freedom of speech so as to avoid incitement and violation of other people’s rights by improper use of the freedom of speech. The US government should therefore initiate ways in which the freedom of speech which has been misused by many Americans and have been rather used abusingly by individuals in the name of expressing their right to freedom of speech. Under the imminent lawless action test, unlawful expression of speech is not covered and protected by the law and therefore an individual who engages in the violation of the freedom to speech should be subjected to the full force of the law. The violation according to the establishment by the united states supreme court defines the limits of speech and that speech that amounts to incitement is not protected under the law.
In an example of a case in 1973 involving Hess vs Indiana, the United states supreme court found Hess’s case within the limits of protected speech and thus his actions of speech were justified and there was no need of conviction. Freedom of speech therefore with regards to the symbols of patriotism and nationalism is limited to the regulation and the law stipulated in the first amendment laws that protect the freedom and right to speech and expression as long as the act of speech does not lead to incitement or violate the rights to speech or expression of another individual. To handle the issue of blind nationalism therefore, Americans should be made aware of the limits of freedom of speech that is protected by the law.
Reactions of Americans to protests
Reactions to protests by Americans has been entirely agitate as most Americans do not really understand and not entirely analyzed the meanings behind the symbols though most of them react out of emotions such as the case of “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville where peaceful protests ensued out of a misunderstanding of the symbol “Unite the Right” and some individuals are said to have abused others without any specific reason and may out of the reasoning of inclusionary patriotism as well as exclusionary nationalism. Some of the Americans feel that they have more of American nationals than others and that others such as immigrants are less Americans. This fuels a lot of protests and conflicts between the individuals engaged in the protests. The misunderstanding of the concepts of nationalism and patriotism is what is the main cause of the protests which therefore demands of the united states government to formulate measures to make its citizens aware of what exactly it entails to be a nationalist and a patriotic citizen of the state.
Some of American citizens also expressed anger over the Take a knee protests that ensued recently over a player who was kicked out of a team out of what is perceived as not observing the “Take a Knee” symbol. This raised a divided view into the matter as well as leading to protests from individuals who were dissatisfied with the events that came with the “Take a knee” symbol. Another example is the agitation that was raised after the ban of the NFL in the united states which raised eyebrows and brought a divided attention in the nation with some opposing the act and others in favor of the act. Those who understood the actual interpretation of what nationalism and patriotism entails supported the act while those who in turn did not understand the true meaning of patriotism and nationalism did protest the decision.
Protests in America have not only been chaotic and not peaceful but also have led to a more segregated nation than even before. A perfect example is the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville which resulted to a Whiteman being attacked by a group of people on the basis of race which was not the objective of the rally. A group of people perceived to be blacks seem to descend on the Whiteman and beat him with the with man seemingly surrendering while the group beat him mercilessly. This scenario raises an alarm on the degenerating nature of patriotism and nationalism in Americans with fights within even citizens of the same nation on the basis of race and ethnicity. It is therefore evident that the misunderstanding of the concept of nationalism and patriotism has racially segregated the United States of America and thus ruining the nation’s steps towards reducing racism. This is also fueled by the perceived concept of inclusionary patriotism as well as exclusionary nationalism. Whiteman are perceived to be viewing and regarding themselves as more of American nationals than the black Americans which leads to a more racially segregated nation.
The president’s sentiments “sons of bitches” gave rise to a controversy that ensued with the black Americans seemingly to have been the target of this sentiments and in contrast those who defended these sentiments say that the president meant “very nice people”. This was not perceived well by those who feel that the sentiments were targeted to them. This highlights on the impact brought about by the right to speech and expression which has been seemingly abused by many Americans and thus offending other people in the process which leads to a divided nation entirely hence regulations have to be put in place to limit the freedom of speech.
Patriotism in contrast with the freedom to speech
Various perspectives have been brought to light with regards to what patriotism entails and most Americans have the notion that the act of exercising one’s rights and freedom is what is regarded as patriotism and that when the freedom to speech is limited, this is not regarded as patriotism. This though is in contrary with the nations laws as stipulated in the United states supreme court which stipulates that whenever the limits of free speech are violated such as when one’s speech violates the right of another individual or leads to an act of incitement, this is then regarded as a contravention to the law and limits to certain rights hence such rights are no longer protected. This appears rational in that even your right to speech violates other individual’s right, then it ceases to be a right but a violation of the law which is not protected in the law of the nation thus consequences have to be met by an individual who violates such law.
Americans have to be made aware of the notion that we might disagree on the perspectives of how we view and regard patriotism as well as nationalism but it does not mean that it should lead to conflicts based on ethnicity and racial backgrounds. It is rational and logic to disagree since we are all entitled to various opinions and point on views on different matters and it is not necessarily possible that your idea on a concept let’s say nationalism or patriotism is the same as my idea on the same concepts since we are entitled to different judgements and what you perceive as right to you may not be necessarily right to another individual. It is therefore every American’s obligation to protect the rights of another American if one wants his/her rights to be respected and protected as well.
American Politicians and veterans should also strive to ensure that the rights and freedoms of its citizens are protected and adhered to by the whole nation and not to show any instance of biasness or favorism on or against any individual without considerations of the race r the ethnicity of the individual. This will ensure that the country has good role models that American citizens can emulate. Leaders should not strive to impose their ideas on what patriotism as well as nationalism entails so as to avoid disintegration and division on ideal basis. They should ensure democracy is adhered to by all individuals without fear, intimidation or favor.
Counterclaims and Opposing viewpoints
While its legally true, American should never wish to limit freedoms as long as they don’t affect workplace performance. Workplaces should allow dissent, as long as the individual can be separated from the business. Many Americans are not doing this; it is not the NFL protesting the flag. It is members of the NFL protesting racial injustice that they have seen or experienced in their life. (Robinson)
Americans seem to have forgotten that historically American ideals of freedom and liberty and instead replacing it with blind nationalism and hate.
Call to action: recognize how current speech is separating our country down ideological lines and trying to make two sides hate each on principle and not defend the rights of our fellow Americans. Learn to have peaceful dissent, learn to understand the perspectives of others, especially the disenfranchised, and not have an immediate hateful reaction to your perceived disrespect of a flag.
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