Why Are We Blind to a Signal of Distress?

Carl Davidson

Carl Davidson Author and Writer, Beaver County Blue

In the view of many NFL fans upset with some players, the Flag represents the country and the sacrifices made for it. The Athemn does the same (although it’s good we’ve come to skip the next verse favoring slave catching). 

But what is country? In most of the world, it’s blood and soil, kith and kin. Not so here. We’re a bit different, and given our diverse roots, we have no common kith and kin, and the ‘blood and soil’ part only applies to the Native peoples who arrived here about 20,000 years before us. 

What makes us E Pluribus, Unum, ‘out of many, one,’ is a Creed. The Creed is fairly solid but a bit vague a times, and it’s meaning shifts. It has two documents. One is the Declaration, mostly an assertion of natural law. The other is the Constitution, a setting down of positive law, but one that gets changed with new Amendments. 

We could, I suppose, add the Pledge we said at school, written by a socialist to bring us together after the Civil War. (But that 'liberty and justice for all’ part? Who is 'All?’ ) And we could add Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, that defined us as a single nation, THE United States, not THESE United States, as was the earlier usage. More could be added, but I think these would be acceptable to all save for the Native Peoples, especially since Lincoln sent troops to wipe them out after Lee’s surrender.

Or so people say when these icons of the Creed come up. What I’ve found troublesome since Trump, is how often both he and some of his partisans take stands that oppose our Creed. I’ve had several people tell me immigrants have no rights, only citizens have rights. That is quite un-American in one sense because our Creed holds that rights are universal. We have them because we’re human. No government gives them to us, although governments may defend them or try to take them away at times. 

Some will say I’m wrong, that the 'original intent’ was that no Black (or Native or female) person had any rights a white man was bound to respect. But for the 14th Amendment, they might have a case. Still, it gets very dicey. Some today might argue that NFL players had no rights we were bound to respect, and like Dred Scott, their ability to say for themselves what they mean by their actions doesn’t count. Like Scott, their testimony is barred. 'Shut up and play!’ 

Here’s an experiment. Take these four documents, and look them over. See if you agree with them, not simply as ritual, but as they would be put into practice in things we disagree about today. Let’s see where it goes, and how American we really are.

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Carl Davidson, a retired computer technician, is a USW Associate Member now living in Aliquippa, Pa., his hometown, and the location of the former J&L Steel Mill, where many in his family worked and where his grandfather and a cousin died on the job. In Chicago, he served as a computer consultant for SEIU and several other unions, and was the editor of FIRR News for the Federation for Industrial Retention and Renewal during the campaigns against plant closings. In the 1960s, he was active in the civil rights movement, a national leader of student new left and the anti-Vietnam war movement. He worked on President Barack Obama’s first political campaign in Illinois, on his campaign for the U.S. Senate and for the presidency. Together with Jerry Harris, a former Chicago steelworker, he is author of CyberRadicalism: A New Left for a Global Age and editor of Solidarity Economy: Building Alternatives for People and Planet. He is the author and co-author of several other books and lectures on the topic of the Mondragon Cooperatives, a network of 120 worker-owned factories centered in Spain, and writes for the Beaver County Blue website.

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Posted In: Allied Approaches

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