Protests are acts of patriotism

Brian Cox
Legal News

The black American’s centuries-long struggle to secure justice and equality from their government is the most enduring embodiment of the radical principles and lofty ideals upon which this country was established.

The current protests exploding in cities across the nation can be understood as patriotic acts in their relentless demand that our federal, state and local governments more truly reflect the bold concepts outlined in America’s founding documents and described as self-evident and inalienable: That all people are created equal and have the right from their creator to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

In their demand that America live up to these ideals for all of its citizens, black Americans have picked up the banner of life and liberty first raised in the American Revolution and have moved to the front lines to continue the fight for our country’s fullest realization as a land of peoples equal under the law and with a government of, by and for those people.

Acts of defiance in the interest of advancing and expanding Americans’ rights as a free and liberated citizenry have deep roots in our country’s history — from the Boston Tea Party in 1773 to the Women’s Suffrage Parade in 1913 to Stonewall in 1969. The cries of anger and pain and the shouts for systemic change in the wake of the brutal killing of a black American by a white Minneapolis police officer translate clearly into a motto proudly waved on a flag at the republic’s beginnings: “Don’t Tread on Me.”

Black Americans are demanding now – and have been for hundreds of years – that the government stop treading on them. This is a quintessential American sentiment and should be embraced by all Americans who hold to the country’s founding principles.

In his address at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln described America as a nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” He characterized the Civil War as a test of “whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.” The current protests, in the context of a deeply divided country, are a test in a similar vein.
Americans proclaim to believe all people are created equal. We are taught that all people have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. While clear in their simplicity, our country’s history has shown that these are not always convenient ideals to uphold, which is why it is every American’s patriotic duty to demand that their government fulfill its obligation to treat all of its citizens with equality.

The painful, abiding problem is that too many of this country’s white citizens do not see fellow Americans in the protests broadcast on their televisions – Americans who want the same rights to Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness that white citizens have always considered their birthright.  The black American’s struggle is the American struggle, a continuation of what is revered as the American Experiment.

Black Americans are doing nothing less than acting on Thomas Jefferson’s assertion in the Declaration of Independence “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of [Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness], it is the right of the People to alter or to abolish it ...”

The black American’s struggle to alter their government tears away that government’s veil of moral superiority to reveal a profound hypocrisy in direct conflict with the core beliefs rooted in this nation’s identity. A country that recognizes all people as created equal does not discriminate against any of its citizens based on the color of their skin; to do so would be a betrayal of that fundamental principle. Systemic racism exists at all levels of our society and institutions and until it is eradicated America will never draw closer to realizing its full potential as a country purportedly built on pillars of liberty and freedom.

Our nation’s success as an ideal will be determined by the success of the black American’s patriotic fight to force this country’s governments to finally live up to the American vision of equality for all.

 All Americans should join our fellow countrymen and women in this righteous fight.