I am an American.
I am not a coward. These colors do not run.
I am constantly told to be afraid. Fear the immigrants. Fear the dissenters. Fear anyone not exactly like me. Fear and bow down to those who claim to protect us from the fears they insist I must have.
I will not be afraid. And I will not bow down.
I am not afraid of immigrants, because I know that this country was built by immigrants, by people who came here for a better life and worked hard to make that happen. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. That’s what Americans say. We do not compare human beings to candies. Seriously, what idiot thought that up? We do not build walls. We are the asylum of liberty in every sense of that phrase. And those who say otherwise need to think long and hard about who they are as Americans.
And if some of those immigrants are troublemakers, well, join the party. We’re a nation of troublemakers. We kill each other with an efficiency unmatched by any nation on earth not actively involved in civil war and more than some of those as well. We have more guns than sense, and we kill each other with abandon. We are a violent and reckless society that thinks the slaughter of the innocent is an acceptable price to pay for the freedom to own military-grade firearms and when you have people making that case openly then what’s one more lunatic in that mix?
But most people aren’t troublemakers no matter where they were born or how long it took for them to get here. Most people get through the day just fine without having to hide their pathetic little lives behind big bad firearms. Most people are just here to live their own lives and they don’t really worry about yours. It’s the American way.
This is what it means to be a City On a Hill, a beacon to the world, to welcome the world into our midst and let them be part of this grand and insane experiment.
And if this country isn’t always the beacon it ought to be – isn’t often the beacon it ought to be – then I damn well am going to work to make it so. Because I am an American. I am not a coward. Hard work does not scare me. It may not excite me, but it does not scare me.
I know this country has done some stupid things. I face it and acknowledge it and fix it and these colors do not run.
Show me someone who has not done anything stupid and I’ll show you someone who has done nothing. This country achieves, it builds, it flips a giant bird to the notions of possible and reasonable and goes beyond them, and sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes it is not but we go on anyway and when it turns out that we have done stupid things then by god we correct them. We do not hide.
Slavery is part of our founding fabric and blacks have never been allowed to forget it and that’s something stupid we need to change. We got rid of slavery by fighting the bloodiest war in our history. We passed a legal framework to try to make sure all Americans are treated as Americans. It took a hundred years after that war, but we did it. But we still have a long, long way to go on that, and if you can watch the news and think anything else then you’re either not paying attention or you're part of the problem.
Religious bigotry is part of our founding fabric and dissenters from the theological order have never been allowed to forget it and that’s something stupid we need to change. We separated church and state in our most basic foundational document. We passed laws that make citizenship and faith unconnected. But we still have a long, long way to go, and if you can listen to the theocrats and moralizing hypocrites who dominate our airwaves this election year and think anything else then you’re either not paying attention or you're part of the problem.
There’s a lot of things we need to change. And we can and we will because we are Americans and we are not cowards, not even about our own sins, and these colors do not run.
I am an American.
I do not panic when people express their dissent. This country was built on dissent. This country was founded by the cranks and miserable bastards who didn’t toe the party line and it is their spiritual descendants who are the true Americans, not those who would legislate obedience to a false patriotism.
You want to kneel during the national anthem? Kneel, you miserable bastard, kneel and be an American. Make your point and make people see. Make people uncomfortable and make them talk. Remind us that patriotism means love of country and love means seeing how screwed up it is and loving it anyway and wanting it to be better than it is. We are the cranks and miserable bastards of the world and we’re proud of it. This isn’t a tea party. If you can’t protest the things that need correcting you might as well be living in North Korea. Tick people off and then educate them. Nothing gets done otherwise.
These colors do not run.
I am an American. I am not afraid of protest. I am not afraid of immigrants. I am not afraid of dissenters.
And the false patriots who would bar the gates and crush the dissenters, who demonize the protesters and the people not exactly like me even as they rush to make me fear?
Those people worry me. They irritate me. They anger me. But they do not scare me.
I am an American. I am not a coward. These colors do not run.
I will not run from them.
I will not bend to them.
And I will be heard.