In the very very olden days, when I was growing up, there was a popular song that declared, “You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.”

Those of us who share progressive values have to expose what is negative in our society.   As an investigative reporter, I have done so for nearly half a century and am proud of doing so.  All too often, though,  as progressives have uncovered what is negative, we all too often failed to communicate the positive values that are motivating us to do so.

One might see this in the incidents where football players protested the police shootings of Black people, including little children.  They did so by refusing to stand for our national anthem.

Many interpreted this protest as an attack on America.  It was actually an expression of basic American values, the exact same values expressed two centuries. ago in ‘The Star Spangled Banner.”

That song, as well as the very creation of this country in the American Revolution,   represented a protest against the centuries’ old abuses of the European feudal system and the tyranny of the kings.  It expresses feelings of Americans about  the denial of human rights in the Europe that they had  left, and their determination not to allow such things here.

However, it is clear that can not only result from foreign invaders but from authorities within.Abe Lincoln declared “If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroy ourselves.”

Ironically; the modern protest against police killings  represented not only American values, but essentially some basic positions expressed by political conservatives.  It seems amazing that the very ones, who cry loudest against “big government” would allow the police, who are the closest agents of government, to be unaccountable, when it comes to destroying our citizens’ lives.  American soldiers have died fighting against  those in charge of police states.

Is this inconsistency by conservatives because their concern about big government is a fake pretext to halt any restraint on the rich?  Or is it simply because they do not care when those whose  basic rights are violated are Black?

To correct both honest misconceptions and deliberate distortions of what the protestors are doing, I would propose a slight alteration in their tactics to demonstrate how they are not attacking, but defending American values.

Whenever “The Star Spangled Banner is played, I urge the those at football games or anywhere else to proudly stand up and whip out signs saying “Liberty and justice for ALL.”  (The word “all” emphasized.)

If Donald Trump objects to the display of such sentiments, he may urge the firing of all public officials involved in our Pledge of Allegiance.

P.S. In taking practical steps to stop police brutality, we must also have a general understanding of the problems of individual police officers and the dangers they may continually face from irrational or violent people.  To find a fair solution  requires dialogue between grassroots people, particularly among racial minorities, human rights groups and police officers in establishing fair policies for all.  Discussing how to do that would require another article.


Ron Seigel has been a journalist for nearly 50 years, writing on grassroots communities  and philosophical issues, whose work has appeared  in newspapers both in Michigan and on the national level.  He has been a human rights activist.

Bookmark and Share