Thursday, May 24, 2018

No, Family Research Council. You don't get to to talk about patriotism after attacking transgender soldiers

As long as the Family Research Council attacks trans soldiers, its words about patriotism don't mean a thing.

I've never believed that you should force people to show patriotism. Patriotic acts must be performed freely and from the heart. That way, they are genuine rather than for show.

Of course the National Football League doesn't believe such with their recently announced policy of forcing players and staff who are on the field during the playing of the national anthem to stand. While those not wishing so can remain in the locker room, we all know how such things work out when peer pressure from other players, the fans, and some of the media come for these players.

This ridiculous policy is mostly likely because of the ruckus Donald Trump raised last year when former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick began to kneel on one knee during the playing of the anthem. He did so to protest the problem of police brutality against black men and the rash of deaths it was causing. Other players in the NFL and other sports began to follow his lead.

Trump, who has never met an issue he wouldn't distort, made the issue one of disrespect of the nation's flag and anthem. And his further exploitation of the controversy is the reason why we are where we are today.

If the NFL thinks this issue is over, it is sadly mistaken. However, in Trump land (which is more mental than physical), right-wing and religious right groups such as the Family Research Council and its president, Tony Perkins,  are practically anointing Trump as the new savior of America akin to how Franklin Roosevelt guided us through World War 2. I will spare you the entire screed. A little should be enough to properly nauseate you:

President Trump, who scored the biggest victory in America's showdown with the $14 billion league, agreed that NFL owners did the right thing. But, like a lot us, doesn't think people should have to be prodded into showing their nation respect. "I don't think people should be staying in the locker rooms, but still I think it's good," he said in an exclusive interview on Fox News. "You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there. Maybe you shouldn't be in the country." 
FRC's Lt. General Jerry Boykin, who knows plenty of soldiers who wished they could stand for anything again, said, "I think it's sad that any American today is not willing to stand in honor of the flag," but, he went on, "I'm glad to see the NFL addressing the issue." The American Legion, whose veterans served so that these players had the freedom to disrespect their country, applauded the NFL's move -- wishing, like most Americans, that it had never been necessary. "While the issues that led to the controversy remain and deserve continued national dialogue, we hope that all Americans would stand united as one under our national symbol. Our flag and anthem belong to all Americans. While our country is not perfect, it remains the world's greatest beacon of freedom. We all have to work together to resolve our differences." 
Whether the NFL has learned its lesson about wading into the culture wars remains to be seen. What it has learned is not to tangle with proud Americans -- and the man working to make their country great again, Donald Trump. "This is a notable win for conservatives," Axios insisted, one that will hopefully make businesses think twice about mocking our values. "Trump outsmarted the Resistance," the Federalist pointed out, "but that doesn't seem to take much work. The Resistance has framed the issue so cleverly that they are on one side and Trump is on the other -- along with the national anthem, the flag, and military veterans." That's a fight no smart entrepreneur wants to pick. 
Meanwhile, if there is a bright side to this controversy, it's that Americans reminded the corporate elite just how painful their extremist politics can be. In business -- as in elections -- your choices matter. There's no downside to speaking up -- or, in this case, standing up and tuning out. Even one person can make a powerful difference.

The irony coupled with the hypocrisy of the Family Research Council burns through so many levels that I'm practically salivating when I think of what to take on first.

Let's just go by number:

1. Nowhere in this public orgy of shameless kiss-ass did FRC mention the actual reason why this issue began, i.e. police brutality against black men. It's not surprising because other than using African-Americans for window dressing, FRC really doesn't care about issues indigenous to the black community.

2. FRC cites the American Legion saying:

"Our flag and anthem belong to all Americans. While our country is not perfect, it remains the world's greatest beacon of freedom. We all have to work together to resolve our differences." 

Obviously, FRC seems to think that a lot of us possess an incredible case of amnesia. The group thinks that it can cite sweet words from the American Legion about freedom and suddenly we'll forget the many times in which it has falsely linked gays to pedophiles, claimed that gays are pawns of Satan, claimed that gays want to put Christians in box cars like how the Jewish people were done during the Holocaust, how it has worked to justify anti-gay discrimination on the so-called grounds of religious liberty, etc. etc.

Perhaps FRC should have included a proviso on its American Legion citation saying "except for those homosexuals."

3. Isn't the Family Research Council the same organization which once lobbied (via distortions and lies) against gays serving openly in the military and are now attempting (with the same tactic of using distortions and lies) to keep transgender men and women out of the military entirely -  transgender men and women who are already serving in the military, ergo fighting for the Family Research Council's freedom to malign them and generally distort their lives.

I think that last point is the gist of the situation.While apparently not meaning to do so, FRC has pointed out the abject hypocrisy in  this situation. It's sad but true that a lot of people  are more comfortable with quick displays of patriotism rather than working solving problems which impugn America's greatness. Kaepernick and the rest of those kneeling should be commended for pulling us out of our comfort zones and off of our asses.

As for Perkins and the Family Research Council themselves, you don't get to lecture anyone about patriotism or honoring the flag or anthem. How about you honor those people fighting for your freedoms instead of attempting to scare people about them or exploiting this controversy to give Trump credit for something he clearly doesn't deserve as a positive.  You can't string together beautiful words about patriotism and  America's freedoms when your actions resemble those of, shall we say, less freedom-minded countries.

In the long run, your words don't mean anything if your actions contradict them. And on that score, Family Research Council, you might as well save your words.

We see you.

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