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Terry Lamphier: This July Fourth, enough with misguided patriotism

Terry Lamphier | Other Voices

First, a thank you to Tea Party Patriots who have given me copies of the U.S. Constitution, with a fervent wish that going forward, they see it as a liberating guidepost, not a cage of repression.

How did we become a nation that can’t protect our children from violence and death because of a Supreme Court’s political interpretation that the Second Amendment means giving guns to almost everybody?

How did we allow gun regulations to be overturned in 2008 by Anthony Scalia’s politically conservative court after 217 years of the Supreme Court consistently upholding federal, state and local gun regulations?



How did Congress lose its constitutionally granted powers under Article 1, Section 8, to “provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia” referred to in the Second Amendment?

How is local contributor George Rebane’s interpretations regarding private militia Second Amendment intentions — that “all households … would possess firearms that equaled or exceeded the capability of the then-standing military,” and “citizen-based militias” have “served the nation … countless times” — supported by the Constitution or history?



Is he referring to the Pinkertons’ union-busting private army? The slave-retrieving Texas Rangers? Proud Boys and their white supremacist ilk bearing military weapons? Is anyone else unsettled by Mr. Rebane’s claims that we are protected from foreign invasion “for they know that America can instantly field well-armed armies of literally millions of citizen soldiers?”

Isn’t he making a Jan. 6-worthy reference by stating that “our elected governments have always considered their well-armed constituents when making public policies that border on the rapacious and draconian” — that our electeds should act from intimidation?

How was it not treason, under Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution (“treason against the United States shall consist … in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort”), when Donald Trump’s incitement of supporters lead to police officer deaths, the Capitol’s destructive occupation and death threats to constitutionally and democratically elected congresspersons, all by using what he knew was Vladimir Putin-worthy election falsehoods and propaganda?

How did we become a nation where, too often, display of the flag has become co-opted, even weaponized, by militants, making it something to fear instead of celebrate?

How did we become a nation where the folding of the U.S. flag is a religious “symbol of faith,” as local contributor Terry McLaughlin puts it, contrary to the longstanding tradition of the First Amendment’s separation of church and state?

How did we become a nation that gives constitutional citizenry rights to a fetus, despite the 14th Amendment’s section 1 definition giving constitutionally-protected U.S. person/citizen rights to “all persons born?”

How did we become a nation that forces women who have been raped to carry a fetus to birth despite the 13th Amendment barring “involuntary servitude?”

How did we become a nation where rights of those charged with crime, even the innocent, are intimidated into give up those Sixth Amendment rights by prosecutors who overcharge cases, then offer reduced charge plea bargains, resulting in a 95% conviction rate?

Our founders created a great blueprint, a plan of justice and fair play, but they could not anticipate how it would be subverted by powerful, undemocratic forces. Our flag, once a symbol of pride, is at risk of becoming a symbol of shame.

For those of us who take pride in the tragic but arguably necessary actions taken over the years to defend liberty in various wars — some clearly justifiable, some less so, but all at great cost to lives and prosperity — it is heartbreaking to see our nation’s great legacy subsumed by the narrow-minded and the self-serving into a national sickness that threatens the greatest country on Earth.

Those politicians who wrap themselves in a false flag of patriotism while thumping the Constitution like a Bible, who place being reelected over doing the right thing, who subvert democracy by stacking the Supreme Court with partisan ideologues instead of justices, are the lowest order of human being, not deserving of citizenship.

They are enabled by powerful interests who care not for an America of “freedom and justice for all,” but who instead choose to fuel a constant bombardment of divisive propaganda using their unimaginable wealth, all to preserve their nationless interests.

America deserves better. We are better. Ballots over bullets, honest debates, education that tells the whole truth (good and bad), tolerance for those who are different …

Can we stand united? Can we do it through pride instead of fear?

Terry Lamphier lives in Grass Valley.


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