Much ado about nothing

The NFL players have been expressing their displeasure with America. Make no mistake about this. They claim they are just expressing their concerns about social injustice but they chose to express that concern by showing disrespect for our flag and our national anthem.
Military veterans in the meantime have expressed their disgust with the lack of respect shown to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to make sure these pampered activists have the right to express their opinions no matter how misinformed those opinions might be.
Nothing could be a better demonstration of the cultural divide we now share. The players are continuing to express “solidarity” by locking arms or kneeling instead of standing. Veterans have declared they are boycotting the NFL.
Neither side has had any real impact.
Attendance at NFL games through the first 9 games is down a little over 2 percent. That has little to do with veteran protests and a lot to do with poor attendance at Rams games in LA. Low attendance for the Rams has little to do with upset veterans. For various reasons LA has been a poor football town but their dislike for the returning Rams in particular is historical.
From the activist side nothing has really changed in the social war against hate and racism. Nor is it likely to any time soon. The unfortunate truth is you cannot legislate love and understanding.
The problem we face in this country is we have become overly focused on defining every problem as racially motivated. Don’t misunderstand here. We have had issues of racial injustice in our history. But when every conflict comes down to being defined as the result of racial hatred, we are not building understanding. We are building a wall.
The great majority of American people are not hateful or prejudiced. Accusing them of ignorance and intolerance does not build understanding it ends the discussion.
As a veteran I am offended by how the symbols of our great country have been abused by those who claim to be concerned about improving our society. When we trash the symbols of our collective values we are tearing at the fabric of our common history.
Last week I was reminded of the Code of Conduct for Members of the United States Armed Forces (see sidebar). Every member of the military is required to memorize that code. It says nothing about race. And every veteran I know never considers the color of their military companions when following the tenants of that code.
The NFL players who choose to disrespect our National Anthem or the college students who stomp on our flag do offend most of us who have served. In doing so they have not built concern or respect for their cause.
It is easy to get attention from the National Media. They will sensationalize any controversy to build their ratings. It is much more difficult to have real impact on the human heart. It is much more difficult to build understanding and create real change.
Alienating those most likely to support your cause is not a good way to create change.
It is far past time that we learned making real change is less about stirring controversy and more about building understanding.

Code of Conduct for Members of the United States Armed Forces

I
I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.
II
I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.
III
If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.
IV
If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.
V
When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.
VI
I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.

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