What is patriotism?

I have not written a post here for a long time. My life has been taken over by family visits and moving to our lake place. But in the meantime I have been posting on my own Facebook page, listening to convention speeches, reading articles, and watching how the country is changing before my eyes.

First of all, of course, there is the pandemic. It appears that some of the Trump supporters believe that patriotism is not wearing a mask even when required by state and local mandates.

Patriotism is wearing a mask, social distancing, washing hands and making sure not to expose oneself to others in a large crowd or a bar. But at the GOP convention, the opposite occurred as if the coronavirus was not a thing any more. If Trump and his supporters believe this was a sign of their patriotism to America they are dead wrong. And I mean that in the literal and figurative sense. Defying the public health and safety of the community, of family, friends and of the country is sheer stupidity and irresponsibility. Super spreader events like the GOP convention will begin infecting people all over the country, spreading the disease to those who are vulnerable, putting pressure on our healthcare system and health care workers and endangering lives. It’s already started from those who attended the Charlotte opening last Monday. In addition, as long as the virus is in the community spread mode, schools and businesses will end up closing, causing more economic pain. That is not patriotism.

Second, the protests have become a distinct line between patriots and would- be patriots railing against Black Lives Matters protesters all over the country. There are good reasons for Black, brown and indigenous people to be protesting police brutality and systemic racism. It’s all boiled over after George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer. Had we had a leader who was not a racist himself and could handle national security and safety, we would have had someone who could address the nation to calm us all and seek common sense solutions. Alas, that is not who we have. Instead we have a leader who is throwing matches on the kerosene and encouraging armed protesters:

Heidi Beirich, the chief strategy officer at the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, said she was unsurprised when she woke up to the news of violence in Kenosha Wednesday morning. The summer of 2020 has already seen the targeting of Black Lives Matter protesters with a bomb plot in Nevada, the targeted killing of a federal court security officer and the murder of a sheriff’s deputy by a suspected right-wing extremist in California, and a Ku Klux Klan leader driving his car into a crowd of police brutality protesters in Virginia.

“As we’re approaching the election and Trump is hyping fear over the protests and ginning these people on with all this of law order stuff, it’s going to get worse,” Beirich told The Intercept. “I don’t expect this, unfortunately, to be the end of it.”

This is not patriotism. That is domestic terrorism and extremism leading to potential national chaos.

We have a leader ready to spread chaos and then use it to get himself elected. For when there is chaos, it is easy for an authoritarian leader to take over the country and rule by fiat- as if a King or Emperor. The Emperor has no clothes, however.

Concerning elections, we now have a leader who is intending to cheat in the election to force the country into a state we won’t recognize as democracy. The worst of it is that he is gaslighting the country by claiming that the election will be rigged ( in the event he loses of course) while he himself is rigging the election in his favor:

We can no longer trust that our federal government will oversee fair elections this November. The repeated statements and actions of the president, his attorney general and leaders in the Republican Party have demonstrated that not only will they seek to cheat to ensure their “victory,” they will do so in multiple ways as part of a massive, systematic effort to defraud the American people and undermine our democracy. 

All of this is happening of course while Republicans and Trump sycophants stand by and let it happen. This could be considered treason in most circles. It is a felony to interfere with federal elections. But, as Trump has said in the last election, he can shoot someone on 5th Avenue and his supporters won’t abandon him. Is this patriotism? We know the answer.

I am a Patriot. I will make sure to do whatever I can do to get people to the polls so they can cast their votes for people who will not cheat or attempt a hostile take-over of our democracy.

I will make sure true patriots are elected. Those would be lawmakers who care about people dying from coronavirus, insisting on masks and other safety measures to keep the spread down and save lives and jobs. I will make sure we elect candidates who care about the environment and saving the planet from ourselves. I will make sure people are elected who actually care that many seniors rely solely on Social Security and Medicare to stay alive and live in security that the deserve as they grow older.

I will elect people who will keep us safe from the epidemic of gun violence in the midst of the pandemic. These patriots will not allow 17 year olds to access an AR-15 and walk down the streets of our communities killing protesters. Patriotism is making sure everyone who carries or owns a gun can do so legally and will also make sure America understands the risks of owning guns. Patriotism is protecting our children and women from being shot either unintentionally or on purpose. Patriotism is going after the source of all of the weapons on the street to protect urban communities from the violence of young folks feeling the need for a gun to protect themselves or to use in retaliation for some wrong. We need to make safer streets and homes for all communities. Patriotism is recognizing that the majority of gun deaths are suicides so safe storage of guns is essential. Patriotism is knowing that domestic abusers should not have guns., Patriotism is protecting our communities from shooters with assault rifles only needed ( wanted) to kill as many people as possible in a very short time. Patriotism is understanding that requiring a background check on every gun sale is to protect us all from people who should not have guns.

Patriots are the majority of Americans, including gun owners, who want common sense gun laws passed by their lawmakers.

This post started when I took a photo of a car (at end of the post) in a local park displaying a very large American flag and a thin blue line flag which is meant to show support for our police officers. Unfortunately the meaning has been co-opted by white supremacists after the protests during and after the murder of George Floyd.

“We’ve seen trucks riding around with big old versions,” said Melina Abdullah, a co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, about the protests in recent days. “It feels akin to a Confederate flag.” She has also noticed the flag’s image on police and other government-owned vehicles, and she sees this as evidence that even self-described liberal officials are not doing enough to combat white supremacy. “The supposed ‘liberal’ answer to Donald Trump has not been as critical of police violence as it should be,” she said.

Police officers themselves are also not speaking uniformly about the flag. Last month, San Francisco’s chief of police Bill Scott banned his officers from wearing face masks emblazoned with the thin blue line flag, worrying they would be seen as “divisive and disrespectful.” The masks had been distributed by the local police union, which accused the department of failing to provide masks. “We did it as a morale booster for each other,” union president Tony Montoya said, “not as a political statement.”

Photo from above linked article

I had never seen one of these flags flown before but I am now living in rural America where I feel like there is an alternate set of norms and lifestyle than that in most urban areas. I am still not sure how that happened but happen it did. There is a not so thin line between the two and the polarization is real and dangerous.

I asked myself as I have done many times before, what it actually means for this “in your face” display of flags. The American flag on the car I photographed was so large that it looked like it would hit the ground when the car was being driven around. How is that patriotism? And of course, I support our local police department. They have done a good job of policing in my community and there when I have needed them. And I also am outraged at shootings of officers and the hatred of police by so many. Some of the ambushes of officers, like that in Dallas in 2016, have been horrendous to say the least. That shooter was angry with police for the shootings of Black people so his solution was to shoot officers.

More guns = public safety.

I am white. I don’t know how it feels to be Black in America with outright racism coming from law enforcement. We White folks cannot possibly understand. We can provide support to our Black and brown brothers and sisters and listen to them and their experiences.

It is possible to support police while recognizing that policing must change and be reformed. Far too often, even now after George Floyd’s death, officers are doing the same thing. Shooting a black man , Jacob Blake, 7 times in the back during a domestic abuse situation which has still not been adequately explained, is just wrong. Diffusing tense situations is dangerous and stressful for all concerned. Officers are afraid that almost anyone can have a gun because our loose gun laws have made that possible. So yes, they are afraid of armed citizens and especially in volatile situations when anger, fear and/or acute mental illness are involved.

The converse of course is that Black, brown and indigenous people fear police- for very good reason. We have come a ways since now deceased Rep. John Lewis was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge but it’s obvious that we have not come nearly far enough.

Being a patriot is being like John Lewis. Being a patriot is protecting our elections and assuring that every registered voter can vote. Being a patriot is doing whatever is necessary to stop the spread of a deadly coronavirus. Being a patriot is making sure our schools and our businesses will re-open only after we have taken herculean steps to stop the spread of COVID. Being a patriot is making sure those on unemployment are getting the money they need to survive and feed their families. Being a patriot is doing whatever is necessary to protect Social Security and Medicare for our seniors and providing healthcare to all Americans.

As deceased Senator Paul Wellstone ( my Senator) , a true American patriot, said “We all do better when we all do better.”

I don’t believe that Trump and his sycophantic followers are true patriots. They believe in the lies and conspiracy theories thrown out by our very own President every hour of every day. By believing in Trump, they are doing exactly the wrong things to protect Americans from the virus, from gun violence, from racial injustice, from right wing extremists, from fair and free elections, from providing for our families and communities.

Stand up and show your patriotism. Vote for those who will actually take care of us and our country. I know we can do better and we will but everyone needs to go to the polls or get an absentee ballot and then actually put in the mail or a drop box. Don’t let anyone take that right away from you.

Fight for it. VOTE. Vote for honest and caring candidates who will be clear and transparent about their agenda and be open about their reasons for running. I will vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. They are true patriots.

May Day with guns

Use this free printable May Day Basket to celebrate May Day ...

Happy May Day. As per my last post, the armed protesters are still protesting and causing a fuss about the life saving stay at home orders. Yesterday they outdid themselves by showing up armed in great numbers and almost literally breaking into the Michigan state Capitol building where the state legislature was in session.

It was not a pretty picture. In fact it frightened most of America when they saw the heavily armed men with assault style rifles and more- some said automatic weapons- carried around their shoulders and across their chests. Yes, open carry is allowed in Michigan, but come on. This was no ordinary protest. Some Senators donned bullet proof vests out of fear of these home grown terrorists standing in the balcony above them with their guns. From the above article:

While not all the protesters were armed, there were some armed men in the crowd inside. Michigan is an open-carry state, and people are allowed to openly carry inside the state Capitol, though signs and banners are banned from the building to prevent potential damage to the architecture.

Democratic state Sen. Dayna Polehanki tweeted that some of her colleagues had worn bulletproof vests to cast their votes.

And, of course, Trump weighed in on twitter because he can’t help himself calling them good people just like he did during the Charlottesville protests. No. They are not good people:

In a tweet on Friday morning, President Donald Trump described protesters in Michigan as “very good people” and suggested that the governor should strike a deal with them.

On Thursday, hundreds of protesters — many of them carrying guns — descended on the Michigan Capitol to oppose Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s extension of the state’s stay-at-home order by another two weeks, to May 15.

“The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire,” Trump wrote. “These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.”

No. The Governor of Michigan should not give a little to these dangerous terrorists. They can be angry. But they can’t be angry while armed to the teeth making threats to capitol police and yelling in their faces spewing who knows what at them. That is why we wear masks. Upwards of 25% of coronavirus victims are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic.

Elected officials need not back down to armed crazed angry white guys with guns. Intimidation with guns is not new but going after our elected officials over the stay at home orders is a new dangerous thing. As it turns out these folks may become sick or make someone else sick with coronavirus and those who get it will spread to others leading to the death of some and leading to filling up hospitals with sick people that they can’t really handle.

This movement is sick and twisted.

May Day is a day of hope for the coming summer and celebrating spring. It has also been used a show of military force by some communist countries. The day itself has an interesting and controversial history.

Here are some photos of May Day celebrations and photos from around the world showing differences in the emphasis of the day.

Decades ago, my husband and I took a 3 month tour of Europe with another couple and encountered a May Day parade in the former Yugoslavia featuring tanks and a military show of force. I have never forgotten feeling very uncomfortable and a little fearful because, of course, this does not happen in America.

But yesterday, perhaps it did. A show of force of military style weapons meant to intimidate, pure and simply. It is the talk of the world now. Protests have taken place in other parts of the world for the same reason as people here are doing. But they were and are not carrying guns around wearing camo clothing.

There is no common sense in what is going on right now in our country. The President has botched the response to the coronavirus outbreak in so many ways that I can’t list them. He only cares about his re-election which is pretty obvious. Tens of thousands have died and many other sickened. The PTSD will be overwhelming for the country and Americans.

Angry white men with guns only adds to the anxiety and the PTSD. It is not OK. It is not right. It should be illegal but we have allowed laws to pass that make this all legal. And now we see what it means. The NRA and corporate gun lobby made sure that that happened and some are now involved in encouraging the armed protests. Will these people stay silent in the coming months leading up to the election?

I am worried about what is going to happen with these “good guys” with guns if things don’t go their way.

It’s May. We are just flattening the curve of coronavirus deaths. We are not done with this malignant disease in any way, shape or form. We have a long ways to go.It’s time to practice patience even though it is extremely difficult. It’s time to be together about what we need to do as Americans because we are truly all in this together. What you do today could affect me tomorrow. It could affect your cousin or your neighbor or your sister or your mother.

Guns are not needed now. In fact more guns will not and do not make us safer. Gun violence has continued apace during this crisis even though crime has gone down. Suicide hotlines are experiencing a huge increase in calls. Domestic abuse hotlines as well. We know that the majority of suicides and domestic homicides are by gun.

The other day a physician, Dr. Sarah Breen, committed suicide in reaction to what she was seeing every day on the front line. She had also contracted the virus herself. The method of her suicide has not been reported. But in this article it is clearly stated that another health care provider used a gun to kill himself:

Two days earlier, a Bronx EMT witnessing the virus’ ruthless toll fatally shot himself with a gun belonging to his retired NYPD cop dad.

We will see more of this, sadly. Guns and a coronavirus pandemic do not got together and should not. Please don’t buy a gun because of the pandemic. Guns are a risk in your home and now more than ever. Check End Family Fire about the risks and the solutions. Please store guns safely. Please don’t act in a moment of anger or despair. So far we have lost more than 60,000 Americans. We will lose many more. And we will lost more to gun violence.

“Side with Safety”.

Gun deaths are avoidable and preventable. Coronavirus can be avoided if the proper measures are practiced. In the end, a majority of Americans may be affected one way or another by the virus until a vaccine is developed. That is a ways away.

Put away your guns. Stay safe. Stop intimidating and making things dangerous and threatening to others. The folks who are doing this are foolish and look foolish.

We are better than this.

Enjoy May Day and be hopeful that if we all act together we can go together into our new future where maybe nothing will be the same.

In remembrance of Dr. Sarah Breen.