Protest is Patriotic: Words of Protest for the Fourth of July

Anthony Lee Medina and cast in Hamilton, 2018

The United States of America was founded in protest and resistance; most of the text of the Declaration of Independence is a protest against the actions of the British Crown. It is Americans’ patriotic duty to protest American injustice — “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually,” James Baldwin said —  and the Fourth of July is the most patriotic day of the year.  The holiday historically has been a time for protest. (What to the slave is the Fourth of July,” – Frederick Douglass, 1852)  Judging from protests and rallies across the country today, we are returning to that tradition.

Some apt quotations:

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official.” –
— Theodore Roosevelt

“When did it become okay to be more offended by what someone with no power says than by what someone with power does?”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty.”
― Henry David Thoreau

“No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.”
― Barbara Ehrenreich

“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”
― Edward Abbey

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
― Elie Wiesel

President Trump’s suggestion that it was treason not to applaud him during his recent State of the Union address makes it clear that Trump fundamentally doesn’t understand what it means to be an American, let alone a patriotic one…I stand for the national anthem because I love a country that gives every person the right to kneel during the national anthem. The President does not understand this core concept, though it’s fundamental to the health of our democracy.”
— Rep. Ted Lieu

“The power of the people is much stronger than the people in power”
― Wael Ghonim

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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