Jul 8, 2019

Protest v Disrespect

During the 1960s, there is no argument that the United States set the example of racism for the world.  African Americans were denied such fundamental rights as the use of public bathrooms, meals in restaurants, and even access to medical services.  African Americans deciding to travel and see their country, also had select hotels and motels around the country that were for "Colored Only" and guidebooks to show them where to find those hotels.  It was, no it is, a sad, pathetic, and very un-American time during our history.  It is one we should be ashamed of, learn from, and promise future generations that regardless of sex, religion, race, or sexual orientation, it will not happen again. 

In those 1960s, African Americans had little to be proud of in the United States and in fact, they had every right to protest, stand up, march, and demand equal rights and equal treatment.  While this happened, some chose to protest the country, but others decided to protest the action and not the country they so dearly loved.  George Foreman, the winner of the 1968 gold in boxing, had reasons to protest the treatment and demand equal rights.  He wanted rights, but he chose not to disrespect his country as a form of protest.  Foreman, after his victory for the gold medal, held up a small America flag as he was announced the winner.  Today, the former heavyweight champion, preacher, and salesman says that if he had it to do over again, he would have held up two flags.  Foreman wanted equal rights, but he understood something that today's protesters do not understand.  He understood that his best chance at getting those equal rights came from the country represented in that flag of stars and bars.

Yesterday the U.S. Women's Soccer Team won another Gold Cup.  Yeah for America!  It is a great triumph, a great accomplishment, and an excellent symbol for women and the nation.  Sadly, rather than take this opportunity to become representatives for making a change, some of the women on the team chose to disgrace the flag and even attempted to walk on it after throwing it to the ground.   In one writer's words, "They won the gold cup, and lost America."   Almost immediately after winning some on the team announced they were not going to the White House to celebrate the victory.  In fact, the actual words were "I'm not going to the F****** White House."

Just before making the statement about the "F****** White House" the team had thrown the flag down on the ground and attempted to step on it.  At the last second, the video shows another team member snatches the flag off the ground before her teammates could walk on it.  Perhaps she thought they accidentally dropped it, maybe she thought they did not mean to step on it, or perhaps she just had a little higher respect for the flag.

The Women's U.S. Soccer Team could learn something from George Foreman.  George Foreman wanted better treatment, he wanted equal rights, but he knew the United States was the best chance for that equal treatment and rights.  He chose to honor his nation and fight for equal rights at the same time.  He may not have liked the President, he may not have liked what was happening in government, and he may not have liked how life was on the streets, but he loved America nonetheless.  He respected the government, even when he disagreed with it.   Foreman set an example that the U.S. Women's Soccer Team could and should learn from, and that is respect and love your country, even when you're working to correct a wrong within your country.

In 1968 George Foreman wanted equal rights.  He won the gold in boxing.  Two days before, two American Athletics won the Gold and Silver in Track.  They also wanted equal rights, but when the Star-Spangled Banner played, and the flag of their country went up, they chose to give a Black Power sign instead of placing their hands over their hearts.  It is the equivalent of kneeling today or walking on the flag.

Interestingly, the man who chose to love his country and work to see changes would still be popular today in 2019.  Without doing an Internet search, I would be willing to bet that most people do not remember those two athletes who gave the Black Power sign nearly as well as they remember Forman.  It's a simple message, you have two avenues.  You can love your country and work for change, or you can hate your country and work for change.  How you approach the matter says a lot about you as an American, and it says a lot about you as a citizen.

Trump, love him or not, is President for four or eight years.  America, the White House, and the U.S. flag will be here long after the Trump administration has been written into the history books.  Change, one way or another will come, and for people like Foreman, they will become the People's Champion, but for those like the U.S. Women's Soccer Team that walks on America and walks away, they will likely be a short footnote in history.  Those teams and individuals will end up as small players when it comes to comparisons with a man like George Foreman.   Respect and love for your country does not mean you always agree with it, the leaders or the policies, but it means you love it and work to see a better day for it without disrespecting it.

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