OP/ED: What is a patriot?

By Stevie Stephens Burden (January 7, 2021)

What is a patriot? I have asked myself this question over and over and over in the last 24 hours. Since the Day of the Insurrection. As I watched a mob take over and desecrate a place that is sacred ground to me, I heard their chants of patriotism. They believe themselves to be patriots. Those who have broken every principle about this country that I believe in, willingly throwing over the rule of law for the lawlessness of an attempted coup to meet their own and only their own interests. They will go back to the arms of others who will revere them as heroes. Men and women who fought the good fight. Those that died will be seen as martyrs. They will pat each other on the back for being good patriots.
As I watched the images swirl on my TV screen, I asked myself, “What is patriotism?” I just can’t believe this is it. I believe in the second amendment and our rights to free speech. I believe in civil disobedience when it serves justice and rights a wrong.

When I joined the Black Lives Matter march this summer in Portland (See link below to Stevie’s firsthand account of the BLM protests in Portland), I did so with the conviction that there were wrongs that needed to be righted and it was my responsibility because I am a patriot to respond in support of my black and brown and red and yellow friends who do not share my privilege as a white woman in this country. I wrote about that day a while back and I have spent a lot of time contemplating the similarities and differences between the two events in the last 24 hours. How are they the same? How are they different? Both claim to be protesting a righteous cause. Both claim to be patriots. The immensity of it takes my breath away.
At the BLM march, a group of people was standing up in protest against the centuries of racism in this country. They did so with respect and reverence not only to the victims of racism and brutality but to the process laid out by the laws of this country as the appropriate ways we can air our grievances to our government. They marched. They stood in protest. They sang and gave speeches.
When I was there and in the hours I stood with the BLM protesters, there was no violence or threats of violence. We as participants maintained a 4-5 foot pathway between us and the fence around the Federal Building at all times. When agitators showed up, they were far down the block from us. But the flash bangs and tear gas were aimed directly at us as per the orders from the current President when he sent in Federal Marshalls to attack us.
So where were those Federal Marshalls yesterday? Where was the President and his patriots while our seat of Democracy was attacked by a mob? How is this patriotism?

What is a patriot? What was the difference between yesterday and the BLM? Some would say color and elitism are what’s different, but in this case, I think it is something more sinister. The President lost the election and that has been certified in 50 different states in the Union.
No offense to my honorable Republican friends and I have many, yesterday was an attempted coup and the difference between yesterday and the BLM protests was that our current President didn’t want to stop them. He didn’t want to offend anyone involved in the riot just in case they won. At the BLM protests we were tear gassed for being within six feet of a temporary fence built by the Feds around a building in Portland, Oregon. Yesterday while his supporters attacked the People’s House, the building that holds the heartbeat of our country, the President was nowhere to be found. While a mob of predominantly white terrorist attacked our Senator’s and Representatives while they did the work that we voted them in to office to do, the President of the United States did nothing. How could he? It was he and his family who told them to march to the Capitol in the first place. Spewing hate and anger that their privilege should be so challenged the incited a riot and retreated into the shadows while it happened. Only to emerge hours later talking about how there needed to be peace while their supporters defiled sacred ground and walked out with their trophies.
I am heartbroken for our country. Because while I may not agree with the beliefs or policies of some in the Republican Party, I would never NEVER disrespect the job that they have been elected to do. I may complain about the outcome, but I would never NEVER take part in attack on the heart of our Democracy. I may be willing to fight for what I believe in but I would never NEVER throw out our Republic to serve my own interests. Even if I disagreed with all of the courts, I would never NEVER show such contempt for them.
When you lose an election you regroup, organize, and plan never NEVER do you incite insurrection. I am a patriot. I am a former elected official. I love my country. Yes I AM a patriot. And therein lies the difference.

*July, 2020 – Being a Patriot with a hippie heart – Stevie Stephens Burden report from the BLM protests in Portland https://www.tillamookcountypioneer.net/being-a-patriot-with-a-hippie-heart/