The Right to Protest Fought for by Veterans, Says Letter Writer

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To the community,

Today is of course Veterans Day. The day in which we honor those who have served our nation in the armed forces. Placed on this exact date of November 11th to also commemorate the day the First World War ended in 1918; the war which was supposed to end all wars and bring about democracy and freedom to the world. Regrettably that conflict fell well short of both those goals, though not because of the lack of effort from the American service men and women who waged it.

Today we also take stock of the events of the past week. Last night was another night full of protest. Tragically some of those protests, such as Portland, turned violent and destructive. Others have remained peaceful, but still were able to effectively express the sadness, fear, anger, and hope for change that its participants wanted shared. I take heart from the protest held in Eureka last night. The grace and goodwill shown by both the protesters and the police monitoring the event should be an example to all.

The right to protest is enshrined in our Constitution by being both implied from the historical use of protest by its drafters, but also explicitly in the First Amendment to that document. This is the document which the service men and women we honor today swear their oath of service upon. Our nation is unique in that our soldiers do not swear fealty to a king, a president, a committee, or a political party, but to a couple pieces of paper.

But that isn’t really true, they swear an oath to an ideal. The imperfect hope that mankind can form a fair and equal government to protect and serve themselves. And it is an imperfect document, because nothing created by man is ever truly perfect. That is why we have the amendments, to be able to correct problems in the Constitution to create a more perfect union. And the right to protest is how we voice opposition to problems or issues that threaten that union, hopefully in order to create solutions to those problems.

It is undeniable that the results of this past Presidential election are unprecedented and monumental, and that emotions are running high for all sides of the political spectrum. But it deeply disturbs me, the condemnation by some that I have seen and heard that the losing side of the election should not protest. That they should shut up and go home, that their concerns should not be voiced and that they should just accept that they lost. I do not accept this reasoning for I find it contrary to the values expressed in the Constitution, the very document that so many of my relatives and friends have sworn to uphold when they put on the uniform of a U.S. soldier, sailor, airman, or marine.

I am reminded of a conversation I once had with a Vietnam Veteran about flag burning. I asked if he was upset by the practice. It made him ache, hurt all over, feel sick to his stomach to see the flag that had been draped over the coffins of his friends killed in combat treated in such a manner, he said. But it was the right of protesters to burn the flag to express their feelings and position. It was one of the rights that he had fought for and that his buddies had died for; as long as the protest posed no harm to others, it was their given right as Americans to carry out their protest as they saw fit. “Though it would be nice if they could come up with some other ways to show their discontent that didn’t make my tummy hurt,” he joked. He believed in the ideal of freedom, even if he didn’t agree with some of the ways that that freedom takes form.

Today we face the situation where the President-Elect has said so many discouraging and hurtful things about people of different faiths, people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, and women, that a large portion of the nation feel they have no hope of succeeding or being safe during a Donald Trump administration. And where the candidate implied or hinted, so many of his more ardent supporters have acted; numerous well documented verbal and physical attacks by Trump supporters give little assurance to those targeted that all will return to “normal” now that the election is concluded. And for so many minorities in this nation, that “normal” was intolerable to begin with so the thought of returning to it gives no comfort any way.

So these people who have been targeted in Mr. Trump’s campaign rhetoric have decided to make their feelings known through their Constitutional right to protest, the right guaranteed to them by the sacrifices made by our service men and women. So many of those veterans are even the exact same people that Mr. Trump has scapegoated for the problems facing our nation; Muslims, Latinos, African-Americans, LGBTQ, immigrants, and women. They fought and served in order to be able to protest against the injustices they may now face, no one has the right to tell them to go home and just accept it.

And as long as those protests cause no harm to others, I gladly and proudly join in the chorus of opposition. I have condemned, and will continue to condemn Mr. Trump’s bigotry, racism, and sexism. President Obama has wished the President-Elect success in his upcoming term, and in so far as it pertains to America’s success I share in that sentiment. But whatever policies that the next administration proposes that will have a negative effect on my friends and family based upon their faith, their skin color, their sexuality, or their sex, I shall protest. Whenever the President-elect decides to attack diversity and equality, things he sees as a threat to this nation but which I see as one of its greatest strengths, I shall protest. All should feel free to protest, loudly and frequently, in the streets, in homes, or in writing in order to protect the rights that we all enjoy under the liberty afforded to us by our veterans.

To conclude, I would like to thank all the veterans out there for all the sacrifices you have made for us, though our thanks will never be enough. To thank all active duty service members for currently affording us protection to be able to vote and protest. And to offer my sincere and heartfelt wish that we will one day no longer have new veterans to honor on Veterans Day, because we will no longer have any wars to fight.

Scott Alto

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36 comments

  • That was an amazing letter! Couldn’t agree more. I am struggling with election results, as well. Keep telling myself that the prez doesn’t have ultimate power. Recent school violence has me worried. Very worried. My 16 yr. old son said kids influenced by parents. But he chooses his own opinions. Glad I don’t see colors, love for all beliefs, womens rights. He’s not infuenced, at all…😁

    • I’m a veteran and agree with the letter. Since my junket to Vietnam in 1968 I have actively taken the view as it is stated,”Gov’t BY the People” seriously. I have lost count of all of the letters I have sent. The many rallies I attended and crossing the Country to protest war, protest discrimination, pollution, and even put on a suit and tie to visit our congressmen, congresswomen, senators and department heads to get the message out we don’t need wars or conflicts to influence and control the world. I do believe in the biblical adage, “what you sow so shall you reap”. Korea was the foundation for Vietnam. A war/conflict that yielded nothing. Sacrificing thousands of young Americans(average age 23)for an outcome that didn’t affect our freedoms or our citizen rights. The same argument can be used for Vietnam. Near 59,000 young Americans(average age 19.5)gave their lives for no protection of our freedoms afforded all of us under our Constitution and Bill of Rights. All it did was to disrupt another country’s way of life and cause 1.3 million innocent Vietnamese civilians to lose their lives. And we continue to sacrifice young Americans, burn up valuable tax dollars ending with people, cultures and countries hating us. Terrorists attack people and gov’ts they hate. What if the U.S. had taken the billions and billions and billions of dollars and spent it on countries infrastructures. Building roads, bridges, schools and hospitals fostering appreciation and showing by example respect for their diversity would we be seen as the Big Bad Bully policeman of the World? You can’t bomb people into change to become peaceful and respectful. Would any number of sacrificed young Americans had they not died become life saving doctors and researchers, scientists, engineers, teachers, renowned artists and musicians, winners of Nobel prizes and the list goes on. But we will never know that because our country chose to put them in harm’s way. The only entities that gained from our warmongering are the weapons industries. They garnered the billions of tax dollars spent and put our country in a monumental deficit debt. We spend more on defense than all of Europe including Russia and China. And what have they done for our ill fated methods at protecting world peace……nothing! Is there another way? Yes, the Peace Corps way and I was one of them. To end with a cliche, you attract more critters with honey that you can with vinegar.

      • So if we would have been peaceful good Samaritans of the world , no one would have ever tried to overthrow us? Not sure if I buy that , but good theory. Have yet to see a society without conflict.

        • The only reason any country would try and take us over would be a country that hates and disrespects us. The biggest bomb does not affect respect. It does the opposite. If we presented the World with a Peace Corp foreign policy methodology there would be little reason to attack us.

          • Sell that story to the native Americans that had this land long before any whites came here.

            • The world has actually changed in the last 500 years. No one is looking for new lands to conquer. Now it is ideological wars we are fighting. So you need better ideas that apply to all the planet, not just the elite.
              Good luck

      • I completely agree with your post. Like you I served as a Peace Corp volunteer in Columbia and the people we assisted were so loving. That would not have happened if we had come in with guns ablazing destroying people’s lives and killing loved ones. I share your comment that we can’t bomb people into peace. And I like your analogy of what you sow so shall you reap. That is so true. When I left Columbia they entire community came to say goodbye. Many with tears in their eyes, hugging me and telling me I should return because I was one of their family. And in two years the only thing we did was start a health clinic and train several locals in triage and basic health care. And only in two years. A small investment for America and unrecognized by our American Gov’t. We are so blinded by thinking that we manage the world we have lost incite as to how it can be done. I have never spoken to another Peace Corp Volunteer who didn’t say their work led to love and appreciation from the people they served. I day dream sometimes that our Army transformed into a large Peace Corp Army. Can you imagine the affect America would have in the world if we had an army of recruits whose mission would be to build houses, a hospital, a school, clean water, roads and like you wrote, love and respect for other cultures, diversity and religions. Sadly, I most likely will not live long enough to see in our country a major in a philosophy change that will realize the billions we spend in Defense being spent helping countries with constructive infrastructure. Thank you for your comment.

  • I guess Hillary’s super predator remark towards blacks, hints of possible satanism, being backed by horrible people, and constantly blaming Russia for everything which holds half the nuclear weapons on the planet slipped your mind? Trump isn’t perfect but the alternative would have been a totally corrupt sellout.

    • To say that “Trump isn’t perfect” is perhaps the largest understatement I have ever seen written. It’s on a par with someone seeing the sun explode and saying “Well that went bang.” Though I suppose that’s closer to what his supporters were really after — to blow up politics regardless of the consequences or fallout.

      Clinton wasn’t perfect by a country mile and I couldn’t bring myself to vote for either her or the orange buffoon, but at least with Clinton, I wouldn’t have had to worry so much about someone utterly destroying what progress US society has made over the last 8 years.

      And let me guess, from the “hints of possible satanism”, you probably still believe President Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii and that he’s about to turn the country into a caliphate, don’t you?

      • Thanks to wikileaks there is all sorts of horrible this lady has been hiding out for everyone to see. Something the media wont show because it is controlled by just a handful of people. This whole thing has been so one sided in Hillary’s favor its unbelievable

  • This is a great articulate argument. We don’t have to all agree with each other, but we each have the right to voice our opinion! Peacefully, of course.

  • Can’t get past the protests, both candidates sucked, neither were worth my vote, both liars, both have rotten morals , so what is the problem, knew 6 months ago we would be stuck with one of these jerks, so what is the surprise!if you couldn’t see this coming then WRAP IT UP AND CALL IT A DAY

  • Just curious…why, for real, is he so orange? Needs new makeup artist? Trim those brows for sure. But really, why the orange? Too many yamms, mangos, etc…

  • Progress in the last 8 years? Wtf haha I guess your right if you call doubling our nations deficit in 8 years. Look it up the last 8 years has been a joke

    • Unemployment is about half what it was in 2008. About 20 million more people have health care coverage since 2008. The stock market is higher than it has ever been. And in constant dollars, the deficit is lower than under the Bush Administration aside from 2008-9 which Obama inherited from GWB. People of any gender can now marry freely. So yeah, progress in the last 8 years. Most economic indicators are positive which is much better than under GWB. We mostly got out of 2 wars in the Mid-East and didn’t get into any others so tens of thousands of soldiers (and money) are now at home rather than dying or getting maimed overseas. Minimum wages have started to rise and sex and race equality made some small improvements. We began to make some small improvements in battling climate change. Even manufacturing in the US has begun to turn around.

      Shall I go on?

      Certainly there’s a lot that didn’t improve and part of that blame goes to Obama but a large part also goes to the obstructionist House/Senate Republicans who vowed to stop him from doing anything because they couldn’t believe a black man got elected. Twice.

      That’s what people are out protesting about — that this progress will be rapidly erased under the direction of a guy who is only interested in himself and his alt-right advisors and far-right social conservative VP.

      • GWB was an idiot, anyone following his administration should look great, not sure about deficit, would have to check numbers a little more closely, everyone knows you can spin numbers however one likes. And is unemployment consider down because peoples unemployment ran out and they have fallen out of the system? Foreign relations are at a all time low, haven’t been here since the 30s ,when we didn’t know who was going to attack us,sorry to rain on your parade ,but until we get an honest person in the white house nothing will ever change.

        • I don’t think you’ve seen foreign relations at an all time low yet. Wait until a thin-skinned guy who spouts racism becomes our spokesman, then you’ll see a new low.

          I agree we need an honest person in the White House, which we did not get. That’s why I liked Bernie — you may disagree with his positions but he was at least straightforward. Trump is a salesman and he’ll say whatever he thinks will close the deal, even if it contradicts what he said earlier (or later). He actually brags about it. How many times did he say he’d release his tax returns and medical records? He never did either. How many times would he get caught tweeting a statement only to deny that he ever said such a thing (for example, the whole climate change is a Chinese hoax comment). I think it’s going to be a rocky 4 years for everyone.

      • The 20million mickey d jobs are not lifting people into prosperity though, are they?
        The insurance … $6000 a year with a $6000 deductible is not really insurance, is it?

  • Protesting on the results of an Election in a society of checks and balances, will not be infringed upon, unless the probability of the loss of life or property damage by the people involved, their actions will determine the actions brought against them, desegregation of ones living symbol of Freedom is an direct attack against the Freedom many who paid with the loss of limbs, life, liberty as POW, MIA’s family still waiting silently for any information of their loved ones demise. I as a Veteran in a country of many families with Veterans, being Grandparents, Parents, Children, find these people Protesting with violence have a right to due justice in a court of law by their peers, if all else fails, then I will suggest these protesters wait another 4 years and vote for the Evil of their Choice, this is what we did and we’ll lie in our Bed, feeling safe with the Stars and Stripes Flying High Above!!!
    Some 88 days to go, anything can happen till then, total collapse of the economy by the banks will bring havoc to this nation, all for the agenda of one world government, run by NATO for the Elite,,,,

  • Spit spit, this Kool-Aid tastes bad daddio!

  • I’m so happy for our new first lady! I hope she never regrets her choice of becoming a legal citizen.
    Thank you to all our Vets who served with honor to protect our Constitutional Republic. Thank God we are not a Democracy where the mob rules, but where every individual is assured their rights are secured by good honorable men & women like you.

    • Actually the Democratic mobs have been hitting the streets all around the country every night since the election.

      • If we were a Democracy, millions of 2A defenders would be taking it to the streets in loud thunderous protest. Bam!
        If we were a Democracy, millions of shoppers who like plastic bags, would be taking it to the streets in loud thunderous protest. Pop!
        We are not a Democracy, we are a nation who respects the rule of law otherwise known as the Constitution, which protects each individual’s right. A Constitutional Republic.
        What we are seeing across the nation are mobs alledgedly inspired by the governments dept of education, alledgedly paid for by Soros, alledgedly created by all ism’s opposed to the Constitution & a whole lot of gullible people who believe the alledgedly paid to lie media.
        If Riots, cocktails, bullying, & burning the town down is the new progressive mandate, I’m sure the opposers will be receiving their demonstration memo’s soon too.

  • ‘History tells us what may happen next with Brexit & Trump’
    Tobias Stone Entrepreneur, Academic, Writer
    Jul 23

    https://medium.com/@theonlytoby/history-tells-us-what-will-happen-next-with-brexit-trump-a3fefd154714#.kcudes3wk

    “As the events that led to the First World War unfolded, there were a few brilliant minds who started to warn that something big was wrong, that the web of treaties across Europe could lead to a war, but they were dismissed as hysterical, mad, or fools, as is always the way, and as people who worry about Putin, Brexit, and Trump are dismissed now…

    Lead people to feel they have lost control of their country and destiny, people look for scapegoats, a charismatic leader captures the popular mood, and singles out that scapegoat. He talks in rhetoric that has no detail, and drums up anger and hatred. Soon the masses start to move as one, without any logic driving their actions, and the whole becomes unstoppable….

    …people don’t realise they’re embarking on a route that will lead to a destruction period. They think they’re right, they’re cheered on by jeering angry mobs, their critics are mocked. This cycle, the one we saw for example from the Treaty of Versaille, to the rise of Hitler, to the Second World War, appears to be happening again. But as with before, most people cannot see it because:

    1. They are only looking at the present, not the past or future

    2. They are only looking immediately around them, not at how events connect globally

    3. Most people don’t read, think, challenge, or hear opposing views

    Trump says he will Make America Great Again, when in fact America is currently great, according to pretty well any statistics. He is using passion, anger, and rhetoric in the same way all his predecessors did — a charismatic narcissist who feeds on the crowd to become ever stronger, creating a cult around himself.
    You can blame society, politicians, the media, for America getting to the point that it’s ready for Trump, but the bigger historical picture is that history generally plays out the same way each time someone like him becomes the boss.

    …Russia is a dictatorship with a charismatic leader using fear and passion to establish a cult around himself. Turkey is now there too. Hungary, Poland, Slovakia are heading that way, and across Europe more Trumps and Putins are waiting in the wings, in fact funded by Putin, waiting for the popular tide to turn their way.

    We should be asking ourselves what our Archduke Ferdinand moment will be. How will an apparently small event trigger another period of massive destruction. We see Brexit, Trump, Putin in isolation. The world does not work that way — all things are connected and affecting each other.

    …based on history we are due another period of destruction, and based on history all the indicators are that we are entering one.

    It will come in ways we can’t see coming, and will spin out of control so fast people won’t be able to stop it. Historians will look back and make sense of it all and wonder how we could all have been so naïve. How could I sit in a nice café in London, writing this, without wanting to run away.

    …I feel it’s all inevitable. I don’t know what it will be, but we are entering a bad phase. It will be unpleasant for those living through it, maybe even will unravel into being hellish and beyond imagination. Humans will come out the other side, recover, and move on. The human race will be fine, changed, maybe better. But for those at the sharp end — for the thousands of Turkish teachers who just got fired, for the Turkish journalists and lawyers in prison, for the Russian dissidents in gulags, for people lying wounded in French hospitals after terrorist attacks, for those yet to fall, this will be their Somme.

    …The people who see that open societies, being nice to other people, not being racist, not fighting wars, is a better way to live, they generally end up losing these fights. They don’t fight dirty. They are terrible at appealing to the populace. They are less violent, so end up in prisons, camps, and graves. We need to beware not to become divided (see: Labour party), we need to avoid getting lost in arguing through facts and logic, and counter the populist messages of passion and anger with our own similar messages.

    (Perhaps I’m just writing this so I can be remembered by history as one of the people who saw it coming.)”

  • Saw what coming? You can’t even answer your own question, and catastrophic events have been happening since the beginning of time, so nothing new here. Your just another Trump

    • If you’re addressing me, the poster, please note, I am not Tobias Stone, author of the essay. (Thought that was clear from the presentation of the post; perhaps not.)

      ‘A response to some of the comments on my last essay’
      Tobias Stone Entrepreneur, Academic, Writer
      Jul 25

      https://medium.com/@theonlytoby/a-response-to-some-of-the-comments-on-my-last-essay-f7917146aebe#.36zo2qpsb

      “Henje Richter writes: “Thank you for the interesting read. But being a historian myself, I have a little trouble with you trying to use the historian’s toolbox to interpret the present or to predict the future — our methods simply aren’t able to do that. Using them the way you do leads to such conclusions as history being cyclical, which it really isn’t. It can be told cyclically, yes. But it can also be told in any other way: teleologically, eschatologically, chaotically, etc. History is our way of making sense of past events, not the events themselves.

      What I am trying to say is: Don’t tell a story where things just happen and you can’t do a thing about it. Tell the one where people are powerful, where even small actions can have big effects and where nothing is set in stone, especially not future events. We definitely live in interesting times and things are in motion, but where they go from here is up to us to decide, and for future historians to write about.”

      Tobias Stone: Thanks. I love this point. I totally agree. I am using the toolbox of history to speculate as to what might happen next. The aim is to provoke people into thinking more about the times we’re in, which are clearly significant. I agree the cycles are to some extent created with the benefit of hindsight, but you can also see very clear patterns from history that tend to repeat. If we don’t learn lessons from those patterns in history, surely we’re just blindly stumbling forward, to make the same mistakes again and again.”

      “…my point was that Trump bears all the hallmarks of an early Hitler. A narcissistic demagogue who can hold a crowd, create a following and uses exactly the same techniques to manipulate people as all the previous dictators. People like Trump divide societies and create scapegoats, and that never ends well. Once you start a fight like that it will get out of control.

      Now plenty of people will say, ‘you can’t compare Trump to Hitler, don’t be stupid!’ I agree. Trump has not killed millions of people or started a world war. I am not making that comparison. The comparison is not between Trump of 2016 and Hitler of the 1940s — the Hitler of history. The comparison is between Trump of 2016 and Hitler of the late 1920s. This basic timeline shows how Hitler wasn’t ‘Hitler’ for many years. By the time it was clear he posed a real threat, it was too late to stop him. For plenty of time he was just a shouty man who could have disappeared into historical obscurity if he had been stopped. That’s Trump now.”

      • Your theory, or Mr stoners theory has one flaw , Hitler surrounded himself with evil people, I’m not impressed by Mr trump but he has surrounded himself with a little nicer crowd than Hitler , society is pretty ignorant but not that bad, so lose the drama , it will all work out , in 100 years nobody will even remember trump or me or you

        • “Mr trump…has surrounded himself with a little nicer crowd than Hitler”

          http://www.hrc.org/blog/reports-of-anti-lgbtq-extremists-tapped-for-major-roles-on-president-elect

          “Today, HRC expressed concern about leaked documents indicating that President-Elect Donald Trump is considering for his transition team candidates with histories of anti-LGBTQ animus, including Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council, which has been designated a hate group.”

          • Is HRC watching tmz , too much drama , let me explain the presidents position as of 2016 , he is a puppet , he really has little power , infact I have more power than him. He is constantly being watched , he has 10000 different people telling him what to do, worse than being an inmate, like I said nothing to worry about. Sorry you are looking for such a,dark future you should learn to be more positive and maybe self reliant but a book can’t teach you that.

        • ” it will all work out”

          Tim Urban cogently tried to make that point on his “Wait But Why’ blog.
          http://waitbutwhy.com/2016/11/its-going-to-be-okay.html

          I suggest a reading of the comments on that piece to see how opinion on that perspective is turning out. His own ‘fans’ are decrying that nonsense in bulk.

          Pertinent sample comment, Don: “Telling someone it’s going to be ok, does not make it so. Especially when you’re not the one in the firing line.”

          Your entitled to your opinion but that doesn’t make it correct. Trying to stifle dialogue – “so lose the drama , it will all work out” – serves the nascent demogogue.

  • God Bless our veteran’s.for fighting for our freedoms,and rights.and our men and women in service now,THANK YOU ALL

  • So far, Russia, Syria, Mexico & Canada have all openly agreed to discuss relations and/or NAFTA.
    At least 3 major news outlets have apologized for misleading the public for clickbait & bias cheerleading.
    The TPP was scratched, but keep an eye on it.
    Senators are busily preparing to help Trump get the ball rolling to end Common Core & a few other terrible acts.
    Ryan agreed it’s high time we do more to help the industries by saving farmers, ranchers, coal miners, and other free market systems. The consumer talks with their wallets again.
    Ryan is being stubborn in other important areas. Massie & others are on it.
    The Dow Jones jumped high the day after the panic low.
    Even Oprah is adapting.
    An instigator or two have been arrested.
    Smile.

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