By Michael Starr Hopkins/ HuffPost/ July 6, 2017
I have spent much of my time writing for this publication talking about how complicated our politics are. Talking about the dangers of failing to acknowledge our complicated history and the need to be honest and open about how to move our country forward.
My need to bridge the divide is a product of having spent my entire life trying to see both sides of the argument. Trying to not fall into the trap of absolutes. Refusing to accept that the world we live in exists only in black and white. Doing my best to show my country that we could be more than the very things that separate us. At some point, enough is enough though. At some point, I can’t be a consensus builder. At some point, even I run out of excuses and explanations for people who can’t even be honest with themselves.
I’m a black man in America with graduate degrees on top of graduate degrees. I feel just as comfortable at a country concert as I do at a rap concert. My friends look like the big box of crayons and my family looks like the United Nations. I am the walking embodiment of this country’s progress, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit by silently and watch us go backwards. The costs are too high.
To the supporters and enablers of President Trump: please read carefully, because I don’t want you to miss a single word. You will never get your country back because it was never yours to have in the first place. America doesn’t belong to any one person. It belongs to Muslims in Detroit, Christians in Lubbock, Jews in New York City, and atheists in Los Angeles.
America belongs to Republicans just as much as America belongs to Democrats. That’s how these UNITED States work. To the uninformed and incompetent former mayor from Alaska, the knuckle-dragging bigot masquerading as a special advisor, and the race-baiting failure of a president that currently have the loudest voices in the Republican Party, you do not have a monopoly on this great country. You never will.
What’s ironic is that my family has been here a lot longer than many of the same people who claim to serve the “real America.” When did your family arrive here, Mr. President? I can trace my family lineage back to our nation’s original sin, but I still love this country more and more each day. In spite of its flaws, I love this country. In spite of the inequality and pockmarks, I love this country. In spite of all those that question my place in this country, I still love this country. This is just as much my country as anyone else’s. I still get goosebumps when the national anthem plays before football games and I still tear up when I hear stories of bravery and valor from our troops.
(And in case there was any confusion, our military isn’t some monolithic group of made up individuals that disappear as soon as we take our hand off of our hearts, it’s made up of real Americans of all races, religions, and beliefs. It’s made up of us.)
It’s easy to wave a flag in the air and call yourself a patriot. It’s easy to put a bumper sticker on your truck. It’s easy to put your hand over your heart and pledge allegiance, but that no more makes you an American than putting on a football helmet makes me Tom Brady. You have to earn it. You have to put in the work.
America is more than just a catchphrase or a collection of colors on a piece of cloth. America means liberty. America means freedom. Being American isn’t just a political term, it’s a way of life. It would serve many enablers and supporters of our President to stop going through the motions of calling themselves an American and ask themselves what it means to actually be an American. I think the term for that is personal responsibility. The time for party politics is over. Your nation, my nation, our nation is under attack. Not just from a foreign entity, but a domestic one as well.
Standing by this president makes you an embarrassment to all that is good in this country. It makes you a stain on the fabric of our nation. It makes you the antithesis of everything that your party purports to stand for. Simply put, it makes you un-American.