There is a growing sickness in this country that may lead to the same end as that of the Roman Empire. The generally accepted date for that end is 476 A.D. The cause, undisputed as historical fact, was not the enemies from without but from those within.

When there are so many people living in this country who receive and enjoy immense benefits from living in such a free, secure, and prosperous society, yet have no respect or appreciation for the country that has made all of these benefits possible, we are in serious trouble, even danger.

Colin Kaepernick is a prime example of what we should fear. He claims that Betsy Ross and her flag are offensive to him and others because they are representative of the “era of slavery.” The only connection that Betsy Ross had with slavery was her very strong opposition to it in both word and deed. There was no “era of slavery.” The institution of slaver existed during the period when our country was founded as an independent nation. That time in history was a definite “era,” but there is now way slavery could be an appropriate title to identify it. What is appropriate and so important for us to know is that this was the era of American independence.

In the July 11 Dothan Eagle, Star Parker, who is one of the best informed and gifted columnists we have, wrote in her column a rather lengthy but outstanding article that clearly proves the claim of Kaepernick to be totally false. Ms. Parker explains the roles of not only Betsy Ross but others who were deeply committed to abolishing slavery. Several of the founding fathers, including Benjamin Franklin, were among the others. The issue of slavery was settled as it was in order to have the necessary votes to adopt the Constitution as the basic legal authority for our form of government. The settlement was reached upon the hopeful belief, whether real or imagined, that doe to economic changes, slavery could not long survive. Unfortunately it survived longer than was hoped.

Let’s consider this. During the time that Betsy Ross was making her flag, our country, by force of arms, won its freedom from the harsh and oppressive rule of British authority. Less than a hundred years later, also by force of arms, freedom was gained for the American slaves. However, it was not gained by the slaves, but instead by the American Constitutional government established some years before. To gain freedom in both instances, the American armed forces, which were predominately white, made unbelievable sacrifices of life, limb, and fortune.

Ms. Parker state that the Ross flag and ours today stand for “…the struggle (for freedom) and for the principles articulated in the Declaration of Independence that Franklin signed.” She continued, “The truth and power of those principles of freedom is what made us and makes us great, despite the presence of evil. Let’s not make the grave error of thinking that what needs to be eliminated are the principles rather than the evil.” (Parentheses added.)

Returning to Mr. Kaepernick – he has such a sweet deal with Nike. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Nike has a sweet deal with Kaepernick. After all, Nike has profited far more from the deal than Kaepernick. Its investment has reaped billions. His is only millions. According to Ms. Parker, who cites the Wall Street Journal as authority, 80 percent of Nike’s “most committed enthusiasts are under the age of 35.”

Ms. Parker also refers to a Gallup poll that asked the question, “How proud are you to be an American?” The results of that poll are distressing. With the combination of young people and those of a particular political affiliation, there is an alarming number who are not proud to be Americans. A fair assumption is that a large part of that 80 percent is not proud of America. Giving in to Kaepernick’s demands is convincing evidence, against Nike, that because of the enormous amount to money represented by the 80 percent, Nike is prouder of that than it is of America.

The “combination” referred to above has sufficient influence to persuade governing bodies and school administrators to either make saying the Pledge of Allegiance optional or ban it altogether. These same authorities pain over pictures and destroy or remove other works of art that portray our historical past because they find that the persons and events represented offend certain elements of our society. Do those authorities believe that by destroying or removing these works of art will erase from history those people and the evens portrayed, as though they never existed or occurred? If, in fact, those objects do represent people and events that have implication of wrongdoing, wouldn’t it be wise to leave them as a reminder that those wrongs should not be repeated? Granted, some of the people portrayed were slave owners, which we all know was wrong, but those same people did enormous good in the founding of this country and its continued success. Should all of that be discredited and forgotten?

The same authorities allow desecration of our flag and permit those guilty of such desecration to engage in protests, which are actually out-of-control riots, resulting in massive destruction of private and public property with significant loss of lives and serious bodily injury. How or why such activities are tolerated or allowed is beyond any concept of proper behavior or conduct. The right to protest is claimed as one guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The actual wording of that right is that “Congress shall make no law … abridging … the right of the people peaceably to assemble …” It is perfectly clear that any legal protest must be done in a peaceable manner. Too many of those who should know this either don’t know it or choose to ignore it.

We need to keep in mind that it is God who determines and controls all historical events. And he does it all on his time, not ours. Just think -- the Jewish people were enslaved in Egypt for almost 500 years. After their deliverance from bondage, what was the main focus of their lives? Was it relieving and lamenting their oppression and persecution in slavery? No, rather than dwell on their past misfortune, those former slaves thanked and praised God for their freedom and turned their minds and energies to making a new life devoted to his worship and glory.

The first American slaves were first enslaved in Africa by other Africans. Why do their descendants today insist that to be an American they must first be recognized as an African? There may be a reason for this that I am not aware of, but it doesn’t seem to be something in which to take pride. Another question to descendants of American slaves is, “Where would you be today if your ancestors had not been slaves in America?”

Don P. Bennett lives in Dothan.

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