Paul R. Lehman,Kaepernick’s protest is a Constitutional exercise in American democracy

August 31, 2016 at 1:16 pm | Posted in African American, American history, Amish, Constitutional rights, democracy, Disrespect, education, equality, fairness, freedom of speech, justice, liberty, life, lower class, Media and Race, Pledge of Allegiance, poor, social justice system | 2 Comments
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Why are some people getting so bent out of shape over the fact that Colin Kaepernick decided to exercise his 1st Amendment right to protest what he sees as injustice in America? Ignorance of the Constitution? The excuse that Americans fought and died for our flag should not be used to justify complaints because all military takes an oath to uphold the Constitution, not the flag. The flag is only a symbol of the country and should be respected unless one wants to use it for protest, which is what Kaepernick has decided.

In America, if we have a problem with our government, we are taught to not run and hide, but to bring the problem out in the open so it can be addressed. The way the problem is brought to view is through protest. When the police or teachers reach an impasse in negotiations, they either chose a mediator or go on strike or both. Striking is a form of protest that has been used successfully for many years in America. None of the strikers have been accused of being unpatriotic or anti-American. They just want attention focused on their problem. Kaepernick is being patriotic by protesting in order to call attention to the problems he wants addressing.

Kaepernick is not the first athlete to protest by refusing to stand for the flag ceremony; nor will he be the last. His actions are not arbitrary or capricious, but well thought-out and reasoned. He knows that he will have to pay a price for his actions because too many people do not understand the thoughts that led to this action. In an article from the NFL Notes, Kaepernick is quoted as saying, “I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. …To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”

Regardless of how one feels about Kaepernick’s form of protest, it should not be figured into the equation of right or wrong, because he is protesting as an American citizen. He is speaking out about the injustices visited upon African Americans and people of color in America. Other Americans see that same injustice, but choose to remain silent. Why should Kaepernick be criticized for exercising his Constitutional right about injustices that have been going on for years while America looks on in silence? Some people believe that his decision to not stand for the flag is wrong, but that belief is theirs, and that is fine. What they do not have, however, is the right to select or judge Kaepernick’s manner of protest. They might want to offer their opinion relative to what manner or form their protest would take, but no one can say whether their choice is right or wrong; it is theirs to make.

In America, citizens have for years refused to salute the flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and serve in the military. These people never receive complaints about their actions and are never accused of being un-American or unpatriotic; they are left alone to live their lives in a manner that suits them. Two groups of Americans in this category that come to mind are the Jehovah Witness and the Amish. In their defense, some people might call attention to their religious beliefs as reason enough for them to refuse to honor the flag or saying the Pledge and serving in the military. The irony of this defense is that they and Kaepernick use the same Constitutional rights to support their actions.

What some people do not like is for a person of notoriety to use his fame to call attention to his protest. To many people, a person gives up his right to be an individual in order to maintain his fame. With Kaepernick, some people want him to only be a football player, nothing more. If he says something that does not relate to football, he is criticizing for over-stepping his bounds. Many people want athletes to have no opinions outside of their sport. The fact that they are paid large sums of money to use their athletic abilities should be enough to keep them silent about other things. Unfortunately, that kind of thinking robs the individual of his whole being as an intelligent, sensible, and rational person capable of making a decision apart from his professional career. We do not have to guess as to Kaepernick’s motives for his protest, he stated that “No one’s tried to quiet me and, to be honest, it’s not something I’m going to be quite about…I’m going to speak the truth when I’m asked about it. This isn’t for look. This isn’t for publicity or anything like that. This is for people that don’t have a voice. And this is for people that are being oppressed and need to have equal opportunities to be successful. To provide for families and not live in poor circumstances.”

Many Americans apparently think that as Americans we should think and act in certain ways that do not offend the ideas or concepts they hold in high esteem. Were that the case, individual freedoms would be a laughing matter because they would not exist. As Americans, we are encouraged to believe that we can exercise our Constitutional rights without fear of anger, hate or some form of retribution for not walking in lock-step with what some people think is the right way.

Kaepernick did not call the media to witness him sitting during the flag ceremony; he did not seek to create a media storm that focused on his protest. The media took the lead in calling attention to the fact of Kaepernick’s actions, and shortly afterward, judgments and criticisms flooded the airways. Whether one agrees with Kaepernick’s form of protest, as Americans we must defend and support his rights to protest because that is what we believe is our responsibility. Let us be reminded of the importance of the right to be our individual selves by recalling the words of Henry David Thoreau: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however, measured or far away.”

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Paul R. Lehman, President Obama knows the value of criticism and patience

October 29, 2013 at 12:46 am | Posted in Congress, Disrespect, fairness, justice, Obamacare, politicians, Prejudice, President, President Obama, the Republican Party | 2 Comments
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An old saying that advises us to keep our friends close and our enemies closer hold a lot more truth than meets the eye. At first the advice might appear to seem puzzling, for why would we want to keep our enemies closer to us than our friends? The answer is simply that our enemies will try to find fault in and criticize everything we do. If we are wise, we will listen to what they have to say because regardless of how angry or hateful they are towards us, the faults they point out to us actually can serve to benefit us.
If we take the critics of President Obama as an example of fault-finding people, then instead of him trying to retaliate against them, he listens to what they are saying. When he does this, he can find out just what and where the problems exist. Once he learns of the problems and where they exist, he can then proceed to correct or at least, address them. The key to having criticism work in ones behalf is to not take it the way it is offered. From the beginning of his term as President, President Obama has been blamed for the rising level of the debt. He ignored them and continued to work. Fortunately, the President can say to his critics today that the debt is on the decline. So, rather than the debt being a consistent problem for the President, something that could be used to try and denigrate him and his administration, he turned it into a positive experience.
More often than not, criticism is offered with negative and emotional force focused on trying to discredit and/or denigrate the President or his administration. Just because it is offered in a negative way does not mean that it cannot be put to positive use. Take for example, the Affordable Health Care system and the problems associated with getting it to work properly. President Obama’s critics began condemning the program and by saying how destructive it was to the country. Fortunately, the President and wiser heads listened to the criticism and put in place a process to correct the problems. The criticism of the AHC focused on getting rid of the entire program. To even entertain thoughts related to abandoning the entire program makes as much sense as getting rid of a new car that only has a defective battery. To correct the problem would be to repair or exchange the battery. A result of the criticism of the AHC program is that it will be better after the problems are corrected.
One of the usual consequences of reacting emotionally to negative criticism is a show of weakness and illogical thought. When someone reacts illogically to a criticism, he or she relinquishes his or her power to the judgment of the source of the criticism. Name calling is not the same as criticism because a judgment can be made only about what a person does or says, not who they are. In evaluating criticism, one must always consider the source. If the source is deemed credible, then the criticism can be taken as coming from a valid judgment, and deemed constructive. If, however, the criticism is meant to cause harm, then it is deemed destructive. Criticism regardless of its intent can always be instructive.
The majority of the criticism President Obama has received since his tenure in office has been of the destructive kind by his many critics. The intent has been to hurt or harm him politically in some way. We have learned from watching President Obama’s reaction to criticism, however, that he does not act impulsively, but patiently and therefore discern what benefits can be acquired from the criticism. In this way, he avoids any emotional reaction expected from the criticism. For example, when the President’s critics accused him of lacking leadership abilities as Commander-in-Chief, he never acknowledged or reacted to it but proceeded to rid the world of some of its most feared terrorists. His actions spoke louder than his words.
Again, when his critics accused him of reckless or irresponsible spending, President Obama simply let the various financial reports show that his administration has spent less than any of the recently previous presidential administrations. None-the-less the criticism continues to flow, except now many of the citizens are slowly beginning to wonder if one person, President Obama, can really be as inept, unqualified, and unintelligent as his critics paint him and still run the country effectively.
What we will discover if we look carefully, is that President Obama has used the criticism of his detractors as fuel for constructive and instructive actions. The irony of it all is that his critics never realize the value of their negative words and actions. At some point society will recognize the folly of the President’s critics when they finally realize that they are wasting their time and energy trying to attack the President with tactics that in effect, help the President.
One of President Obama’s harshest critics is Senator Ted Cruz who tries to paint President Obama as the destroyer of America. He has attacked President Obama actions as destructive to the country and the AHC as the most dangerous program in America. Of course many people know that the Cruz criticism is intended for destructive and harmful results regarding the President. In his criticism of President Obama, Cruz tries to convince voters that the AHC program is dangerous and a failure. In an effort to hurt President Obama, Cruz is credited with helping to shut down the government. Once the government was back up and running, he complained that the AHC program was not running correctly because of computer problems in the program. So, we should get rid of the program. For criticism to be effective, it must make sense, at least a little sense. For President Obama, Cruz is a valuable asset.
Consequently, criticism is actually what one makes of it; accepting it as a judgment of the individual is to confuse its value. Taken correctly, criticism could be a stepping stone for instruction in problem solving. So, we should not be so quick to dismiss our critics; we just need to recognize the value of patience.

Paul R. Lehman, Obama critics could use common sense

September 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Posted in blacks, Ethnicity in America, Prejudice, Race in America, whites | 3 Comments
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The past several months have found President Obama being the
focus of criticism by some African Americans. They maintain that he is not
doing anything to help the poor and unemployed citizens, especially the African
Americans who lead the country in unemployment figures. Although their concerns
for the poor and unemployed are noteworthy, their understanding of the
President’s situation seems lacking. No matter how much the President might
want to reach out and help specific segments of society, he is not at liberty
to do so. Any number of reasons can be put forth defending President Obama’s
present position.

For example, if Obama would try to institute some program
for a specific segment or group of citizens, not only would the congress not
approve it, they would create a publicity campaign to try and show him to be
biased towards the group in question. Little doubt that others would join in
the campaign wanting to receive the same treatment as the favored group. Since
President Obama is well aware of this situation, he uses common sense to stir
away from it. No one questions the needs of many groups of citizens that should
be addressed, but to offer aid and assistance to a few would not be welcomed at
all.

In addition, most people fail to realize that President
Obama does not have the same options of actions as did all the former
presidents in that they were all European Americans. If they wanted to target a
certain group of European American citizens, their actions would not be
considered conspicuous unless the action called attention to itself. Otherwise,
no one would think anything out of the ordinary. With President Obama, however,
his actions are scrutinized more closely because he is African American, and
many citizens are keeping a watchful eye to see if he tries to play favorites
with some African Americans. If that were to happen, a well-spring of criticism
would be thrown at him for being biased.

Critics of the President do not realize that he has to weigh
every decision and action from a perspective different from his predecessors
because he is African American. Ones need only examine the lack of support from
the conservatives in Congress to realize he is not at a loss for more enemies.
Many have stated publically that they want to see him fail. Knowing that is the
case, Obama would be foolish to try and address the needs and concerns of a
particular ethnic group. The only reasonable way Obama can help any group is by
helping all the groups, showing favoritism to none.

What many of Obama’s critics are actually doing is providing
fuel to his enemies by pointing out that many American citizens are
experiencing difficult times and need help as quickly as possible. His enemies
can take that information and complain that he is not being an effective leader
because he is not addressing the needs of these people. They can also use that
information to claim the Obama is not qualified to lead. In any event, the
Obama supporters who also criticize his efforts must know that if he had the
flexibility to institute and manage programs to address the problems of the
groups in immediate need, he would. Unfortunately, he does not have that
option. His enemies are waiting for him to make a mistake so they can pounce on
him.

When the President speaks of creating jobs, and programs to
help the poor and unemployed as well as the employed that are still in need of
help, he is including all the people who need help. If he can get the
cooperation he needs, he can then see to it that the neediest get help as
quickly as possible. Without support from the Congress, however, the options
available to him are greatly limited.

Criticism of the
President lack of action or concern regarding certain problems in society can
do little if the President cannot promote action. They certainly do not call
his attention to the problems, he is already full aware of the problems.
Continued focus on the problems by his critics only reflects on the lack of
understanding of the challenges facing the President constantly.

From the day he was elected President, Obama has been under
a microscope from people who like him and from those who do not like him. The
ones who like him keep watch of his actions to protect him and keep him going
in the right direction. The ones who do not like him keep watch to find fault
so they can criticize him and add to their store of reasons for him not being
president. The fact that he is the first African American president brings a
totally new way of thinking about the office of the President. America has a
history of relying on the negative stereotype of ethnic Americans, especially
African Americans, in accessing them. When the ethnic American does not fit the
stereotype then the comfort zone of many Americans becomes disrupted. That is,
when the ethnic American’s actions cannot be predicted, then he comes
“different” from all the others. In other words, he does not conform to the
usual image of the ethnic person. The fact that he does not conform becomes a
problem for his critics.

Many people anticipated and expected many changes from
President Obama based on his campaign promises. Those promises were legitimate,
but could only be realized with the cooperation of Congress. The powers of the
President are limited by the Constitution, and because most actions of the
President can be manipulated by Congress, he has to depend on their good will
to help him with his work. If Congress refuses to work with the President, then
he must come up with alternative approaches to try and achieve his objectives,
but those approaches still must include congressional support.

We all know that criticism comes in two forms—constructive,
and destructive, and that criticism is a form of judgment. The next time
President Obama’s critics want to complain about something he has not done,
they need to take a closer look at why he has not done it. If they do take a
closer look at the reasons why certain things were not done, chances are they
will learn a lesson in how government works or not. In essence, destructive
critics should follow the old saying of not judging someone until they have
walked in his shoes. They must also mindful of the fact that Obama’s shoes are
unique. Word to the wise.

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