Originally published July 10, 2019
Last week, as the nation celebrated the anniversary of her independence, a stark difference arose amongst her occupants. The most patriotic day of the year was marred with partisan divisiveness, as had so many days before. What began years ago as two sides of a political aisle having vigorous debates on issues such as tax rates, healthcare policy, and the southern border has morphed into a binary choice: love America or hate America.
Independence week began with a controversy about Nike pulling a shoe out of circulation before it went on sale. The sneaker featured the Betsy Ross version of the American flag, with 13 stars in a circle, representing the first 13 states of the Union. Former football player-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick, who has an endorsement deal with Nike, contacted the company to lodge his protest. According The Wall Street Journal, “He and others felt the Betsy Ross flag is an offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery.”
Of course, this is ludicrous nonsense. The Betsy Ross flag is commonly used in American culture, including in the inauguration of the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama. This is anti-Americanism wrapped in a convenient fiction of anti-slavery. Kaepernick and other race-baiting activists are fully aware that there is nobody in American culture who thinks the enslavement of blacks was a good thing. The majority of the framers of the Constitution wanted to abolish it at the founding of the country. They put it off to avoid an immediate civil war, which was inevitable if America was going to live up to her founding principles. The argument that Kaepernick and his cohorts are disingenuously making is: “If you disagree with me, you must like slavery, and are therefore a racist.” When Nike pulled the sneaker, conservative Republicans flew the Betsy Ross flag on Independence Day in defiance to the lunacy that has become so pervasive in modern American culture. That symbol of freedom and democracy had suddenly become partisan.
Another point of contention during the Forth of July was the parade that President Trump threw in Washington, DC. The theme of the Independence Day celebration was “Salute to America,” specifically showcasing the military. This is far from abnormal. President Obama regularly hosted military personnel on the White House lawn to watch the fireworks. In 2005, President Bush went to Fort Bragg in North Carolina to celebrate with the troops. In 2000, President Clinton went to New York to view the docked Naval vessels, in what was “the largest maritime assemblage in American history” (Business Insider). Celebrating the troops and the military on Independence Day is not only common, it’s the most appropriate way to honor the birth of our nation.
Like nearly everything in President Trump’s life, in both private business and public office, he added his own flair to the event. After two and a half years of his presidency (and decades in the public eye), his opponents have still not gotten used to his style. This is why, as a reaction to the news that a few tanks were coming into DC for the parade, Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe tweeted, “The resemblance to days before Tiananmen Square is chilling.” (Hundreds, if not thousands, of protesting Chinese were massacred in Tiananmen Square. The numbers of how many people had heartburn from parade route chili dogs are forthcoming). The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson called the event a “kind of a combination Trump rally and Kim Jong-Un-style military parade of hardware and equipment.” MSNBC’s Joy Reid claimed that the “message” that Trump was sending by including tanks and Air Force flyovers was “a threat, but it’s always a threat when you roll out your military… I suspect that the threat is to his fellow Americans. And I hate to say that, but I think that Donald Trump styles himself a tyrant, not a defeater of tyrants.” Pundits and politicians alike were lambasting Trump for turning a nonpartisan celebration into a campaign event. As usual, their worst fears never materialized.
Trump’s speech, the parade, and the entire event were a nonpartisan celebration of the United States and the military, as per usual. In fact, the only thing that Trump’s critics could latch onto was a gaffe he made about storming airports during the Revolutionary War. When the only thing that the media and Democrats can talk about for days after a Trump event is a gaffe, it’s a good sign that Trump was in top form. So instead of talking about the event itself, the left lied about the crowd size. Vox, Huffington Post, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez all claimed the crowd was small, when pictures from the event showed a packed National Mall, despite the stormy weather.
The reason for this reaction, and additionally demonstrated by Nike’s removal of a shoe displaying the American flag, is that Patriotism itself has always been partisan. President Trump, already a polarizing figure, is undoubtedly patriotic, thus exacerbating the partisanship. According to a YouGov poll, patriotism is a descriptor that Republicans choose to use at a greater frequency than Democrats. This isn’t unique to the Trump era. In 2013, when Obama was president, 67% of Republicans described themselves as “very patriotic,” compared to 38% of Democrats. In 2018, during the Trump era, the gap widened to 72% Republicans and 29% Democrats.
Every year, there is a glimmer of hope that for one day, the day that we celebrate declaring our independence from a foreign monarchy, we can put aside our partisan differences and agree that America is a uniquely special country. As author David Barton of the historical society, Wallbuilders, LLC, has said, “the average length of a constitution in the history of the world is 17 years (“Constitutions, in general, do not last very long. The mean lifespan across the world since 1789 is 17 years.”). “This year, we’re 232 years under the same Constitution. So, we are unique. We are the exception, not the rule.” If the country took a moment to reflect on that impressive record, marvel at American exceptionalism, and have gratitude to the men and women who sacrificed to get us to where we are today, then patriotism may not be a partisan concept in the future.
Moshe Hill is a political journalist who has written for The Daily Wire, the Queens Jewish Link, and the Jewish Link of New Jersey. He is regularly featured on ‘The Josh M Show’ podcast. Subscribe to aHillwithaview.com for more content from Moshe Hill. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/ahillwithaview and follow him on Twitter @TheMoHill.