If You Feel the Need to Bash America, Do Not Do It on the Fourth
My father is a Vietnam Marine Corps Tank Captain. When the country decided to get involved with Vietnam, my father (“Pops”) decided to get involved with the Marine Corps. His brother, my uncle, was a chopper pilot who was active in-between the Korean and Vietnam wars. His son, my cousin, was a Top Gun pilot for the United States Air Force. He flew 44 missions and escaped the First Persian Gulf War unscathed…. that is until several years later when, as a flight instructor at a Texas base, he started experiencing some muscle control symptoms. Welcome to the horrible world of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. If you are a military veteran of the Persian Gulf War (or active duty military) and you come down with an obscure disease, the U.S. government pays for your care. It did not used to be that way. My cousin is one of the primary reasons for that. Read his memoir, “A Falcon’s Cry,” and you can get a sense for the type of family I come from (and get confused over how somebody that good looking is in my gene pool). Duty and honor mean everything to my family. I love this country because I had a family that instilled in me a pride in the Stars and Stripes and a desire to learn as much about its history (military and otherwise) as possible. Not everyone feels that way about America, and that is fine. In fact, to disagree and complain about all the things you think is wrong with America is a truly American thing to do. But here is the thing. When you choose to denigrate America on the fourth of July, you just look like an ass. This is what I wrote late last night on Facebook after seeing so many people tell me just how awful this country is:
My family, with all its varied backgrounds, is wholly American. My mom’s dad, my grandpa, was an outrageously talented Jewish boy from Brookline, MA. He ended up going to Harvard where he played baseball and football and to this day still holds one of the school’s return records. He also decided to join the U.S. Army before getting into a tremendously successful career creating and running nursing homes throughout Connecticut. My family is what people think about when they want to believe in the apple pie America. It is a melting pot of stubborn Irish-Jews that is ever growing and ever evolving (my older sister just got married to a wickedly intelligent and awesome guy from Pune, India). When people rag on America and tell me how bad it is, I let them talk. I know this is the greatest country in the world specifically because it allows them to tell me just how bad it is. Go somewhere else and you might not find the same type of leeway.
I bring this up because as much as it is American to complain about America, what makes people think the right time to do it is on the Fourth of July? There are so many different examples I can choose from yesterday, but I will just go with the most obvious from the sports world:
How can we truly celebrate independence on a day that intentionally robbed our ancestors of theirs? To find my independence I went home. pic.twitter.com/hniYGJeLxG
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) July 4, 2017
The fourth of July is the day where you celebrate the fact you can talk as much trash about this country as possible. You have 364 (sometimes 365) days to speak ill of this country. But please, do not use its Independence Day to air out your grievances. You belittle whatever point you are trying to make because you look like a fool. Doing that on the fourth is like using your significant other’s birthday to tell them everything you do not like about them. It is like waiting for a sibling’s wedding to remind them why you do not hang out as much as you used to. There are so many productive ways to try and get a point across, but to try and do it on the one specific day of the year where you should be celebrating that country is just petty. You come across as a petulant child when you do that and your point suffers. When you complain and denigrate America on the Fourth you lose no matter what. Complain about it and you prove how great the country is because it lets you complain about it. The Fourth is not the right time to make any of these points, which brings us back to Kaepernick.
I have written several articles about Colin Kaepernick and why he is currently unemployed. The problem he is facing is many fold (he is simply not that good, and even his supposedly good TD/INT stats are only good because his throws are so bad they do not get intercepted), but he just cannot seem to get out of his own way. For every right step he takes, he takes a wrong one. At the end of the season he assured any team that might be interested in his duties that he would be standing for the National Anthem. I found that to be a hypocritical, but realistic stance (my principles fly out the window somewhere around the two million dollar mark). He is doing great charity work (specifically helping starving families in famine stricken Somalia), and is literally putting his money where his mouth is. However, for all of his great charity work, he immediately combats that by doing and saying idiotic things that remind fans and most importantly, football general managers, that he is going to be the dreaded “distraction.” He is his own worst enemy and this tweet is the latest example.
Coming out on the 4th of July to remind people of slavery? Why? Here is a fun fact. There is not a single person alive in America today who owns a slave. The reason? Americans. America fought a horrific civil war where slavery was one of, if not the, driving factors. Yes, slavery was awful, but America also rid itself of the archaic and disgusting practice by sacrificing hundreds of thousands of its sons. It was a war fought for freedom. It was a war fought on the idea that every man should be free. That more than a 150 years later, a man or woman can say and do pretty much whatever they want because they are in America. You are American if you complain about America. You are practicing your inherent right and liberty as an American when you do so, but do not do it on the Fourth of July. The Fourth is the one day of the year where you should simply celebrate the knowledge of your constitutional right to do so. Is it really that hard to keep your mouth shut for one day and just acknowledge all the great things this country lets people do?
Democrat, or Republican. Classical Liberal or Libertarian. Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim, or Buddhist, or Confucianist, or Atheist, or Spaghetti Flying Monsterist. Whatever you want to believe in (no matter how factually inaccurate), no matter what you want to say, so long as you are not actively engaging in violent behavior and infringing on other people’s rights, you can do whatever the hell you want in this country because of the awesomeness of this country. Yes, America has some issues in 2017 and I know you want to gripe and groan on all about them, but there is a place and time for everything. The place is America. The time is every single day of the year except for July 4th.