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Following Nike’s featuring (and implicit endorsement) of Colin Kaepernick in a recent ad, public backlash was severe. The Nike ad enraged a range of feelings, provoking some concerned citizens and political activists to destroy their own property.

Being patriotic isn’t about kissing up to those in power. Being patriotic isn’t about watching the news and brigading against whoever they tell you to. It isn’t about calling people animals or degenerate just because they want a shot at a better life. It’s about upholding the values in the constitution and the rights of our fellow humans.

Those in power currently have claimed that people are unpatriotic. That they don’t love America. That they hate veterans. If anything, someone expressing their freedom of speech is the most patriotic thing someone can do. The truth is, activists like Colin Kaepernick are speaking out on their genuine feelings. Colin Kaepernick told the truth. Now, Nike has attached his image to their brand to sell apparel.

Recently, President Trump has told people that they shouldn’t be allowed to protest.

“I think it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters, you don’t even know which side the protesters were on. But to allow someone to stand up and scream from the top of their lungs and nobody does anything about it is frankly — I think it’s an embarrassment,” Trump, the person sworn in to uphold the constitution no matter what (which includes the freedom of speech protecting peaceful protests) said.

At The Signal we think it’s embarrassing to have leaders who don’t allow for dissent. We have written editorials before about freedom of the press, especially scary is the telling of truth being openly dismissed for “just keeps screaming.”

Just the other day, a high school student was removed from a Trump protest, albeit legally, because of his facial expressions. In George Orwell’s 1984 (which has become increasingly applicable as we get closer to the midterms), there is a passage addressing this concept:

“It was terribly dangerous to let your thought wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself – anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.”

America was not founded on protecting the image of a president, or on complimenting actions of an official, or even supporting the person in power. Being American is about exercising every damn right that we have until we physically cannot exercise those rights any longer.

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