Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is experiencing backlash after announcing a stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic. Michigan is currently fifth in the nation with over 30,000 cases and 2,227 deaths making the order warranted in my opinion.
However, this past Wednesday, protestors gathered in Lansing to oppose the Governor’s order. Many were wearing MAGA hats, some carrying “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, confederate flags, Trump/Pence flags, Nazi flags and signs about freedom and calls to lock up the Governor. Most of the protestors were white people from the rural areas of Michigan and the majority were not using protective equipment or practicing social distancing during the demonstration. It has been stated that this protest was funded and promoted by right-wing (reportedly wealthy) donors. They have also been encouraged by presidential tweets. They seem fueled by an exaggerated entitlement to absolute personal liberty while believing they are emulating true American patriotism. When in fact they are engaging in phony or false patriotism.
They need to understand that personal liberty is not unlimited in the United States of America. Personal liberty, according to http://www.merriam-webster.com, is the freedom of the individual to do as he pleases limited only by the authority of politically organized society to regulate his action to secure public health, safety or morals or of other recognized social interests. Their sense of personal liberty is equal to that of a two-year old who has just learned how to say the word “no” and then has a temper tantrum when their refusal is deemed unacceptable by their parents. Unlike the two-year old, the actions of these protestors is putting us all in danger. They are acting irresponsibly and gambling with everyone’s health and well being including their own.
Edwin Lyngar writes in The Fake Patriotism of the Far Right that “Patriotism is about sacrifice and our shared humanity, while the best of America is about kindness, hospitality and benevolence. Patriots stand up for truth, even when it hurts. There is neither honor nor patriotism to be found in defending lies or deceit.”
Wrapping yourself in the flag and claiming you can do whatever you want whenever you want is not patriotic, it is just selfish, juvenile and outright dangerous. True patriots sacrifice for the greater good, like my dad who served as an Army infantryman during WWII in Germany, like the essential workers who are putting themselves in danger to serve the rest of us during this pandemic. During this time, true patriotism demands that you sacrifice now for the health and safety of all Americans so that we may have a brighter future together. Don’t use your false patriotism to endanger us all!