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Letter: Opportunity to dissent makes our country great
09082018 NIKE
A large billboard stands on top of a Nike store showing former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick at Union Square, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in San Francisco. - photo by Associated Press

The letter in the Thursday, July 11, edition was striking. It was a strong condemnation of Mr. Colin Kaepernick and his stance of protest.

While I myself join the writer in distaste of the means of protest, I could not disagree more with the writer’s claim that the latest action by the former player is intolerable. He further says he cannot understand how a nation that affords such opportunity should find itself as the object of patriotic disdain. Please allow me to assist his understanding.

We purport to be a nation of law and not of man. As such, the Supreme Court of our land is the final arbiter of legal interpretation.

The court has ruled that not only disdain for the flag is allowed but also the flag itself may be publicly burned by those who feel such disdain. The final court ruled that such actions are a part of constitutional free speech.

The writer further states that this man and others like him should leave the country and seek out some other place to practice what he calls “socialist communist ideology.” The writer may not agree with our Supreme Court but its findings are a secure part of our nation’s rule of law, like it or not. 

Inviting people who disagree with most of us to leave the nation does not make the nation greater. What makes America the greatest nation on this earth is the fact that we do tolerate both words and actions with which we strongly disagree. 

To characterize the actions, as much as we may dislike them, as unpatriotic demonstrates the most shallow position one may take on such matters. 

Have we forgotten that the right hand that penned the most beautiful political scripture in human history, the hand of Thomas Jefferson, also wrote to all generations to come that “... the highest form of patriotism is dissent...”?

There is nothing socialist in expressing legal free speech, and we must warn the writer that in communist nations there is no free speech.

What we have secured and maintained through the expense of blood and treasure is not a nation closed to those who view freedom differently but one that is willing to recognize that if one of us is no longer free to speak his mind, even in dissent, then none of us is free.

Michael Hawkins

Gainesville

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