Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dissent, Not Disloyalty

My homepage on Internet Explorer is My Way News, an offshoot of the default Dell Portal (fitting, as my computer is a Dell). Every day I check the news headlines and nine out of ten times, there is a story about the 2008 Presidential campaign race, especially on the Democratic side. Today I clicked on the headline "Obama May Face Grilling on Patriotism" and realized that even after his eleven straight primary and caucas wins, Barack Obama will probably be fucked over by the fact that, yes, he is black, and many people will mold his blackness into a poison arrow and shoot it through the hearts of voters who are actually supporting a step forward for this country.

Now, obviously he is black, and obviously this is a main part of the race in general. However, when rivals challenge his patriotism for not placing his hand over his heart during the singing of the National Anthem last summer, many Americans are left with a bad taste in their mouths. Now honestly, I don't remember the last time I actually held my hand over my heart during the Star-Spangled Banner, because when it is played at sporting events, like Obama, I usually assume the proper contrite position of folding my hands and remaining silent and serious. What's wrong with this? Does it mean that I don't love America and its wonderful, if increasingly sparse, freedoms? No, absolutely not.

I visited St. Bonaventure University recently and met with the Dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communiciations, Lee Coppola. Among several honors and achievements placed around his office, there was a sticker that caught my eye. It read: "We must never confuse dissent with disloyalty." Dissent is what led true patriots to break the oppressive and injust hold of King George. Disloyalty is what the oppressors use as a charge against those who wish to set things right.

From My Way News: In October, Obama told Iowa television station KCRG that he decided to stop wearing a U.S. flag lapel pin during the run-up to the Iraq war because it had become "a substitute for, I think, true patriotism."

I couldn't agree more. Those who are dissentors against the current administration have been accused of disloyalty, because it is a tactic to gain support out of fear. My Junior Research Paper topic last year comparing the McCarthy Red Hunt of the 1950's to the Salem Witch Hunt, and fear was a large factor in both of those.

All I can say now is that I wish all the luck in the world to Barack Obama in the coming months, and when the time comes in November to vote, I hope I can be pulling the lever for the first African-American President of the United States of America.

Or, anyone but John McCain.

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