“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” — Mark Twain
We will, of course, disagree as individuals about the “when our government deserves it” part, but what is crystal clear is that our country has always been stronger because of dissent and protests. It’s what separates us from Vladimir Putin’s Russia, from China, from Saudi Arabia, from North Korea.
The First Amendment of our Constitution reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Rep. John Lewis, one of our great national heroes, marched and was nearly beaten to death by the police because he dared march for the right to vote in 1965. This is just one example of when the protections enshrined in the Constitution were ignored.
The KKK has planned a march on Dec. 3 to celebrate Donald Trump’s election. I cannot disagree more with their views, and I thank the North Carolina Republican Party for speaking out against the march. But even the KKK has the right to march under the First Amendment. And if the Loyal White Knights of Pelham, N.C., do march, you better believe I will be there to protest and speak out.
I will speak out and protest against policies that target black and brown people, LGBTQ individuals and families, immigrants and religious minorities. And I will not apologize for protesting, because the ability to dissent, the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to speak out against the government, is what makes America great.
— Aaron Sarver