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Protest is infantile, not patriotic

I strongly disagree with Mary Anna Towler that "A soccer team gives us an example of patriotism" (Urban Journal, October 19). It did the exact opposite. Those young athletes showed disrespect to the entire country and to what the United States stands for.

Those athletes are too young to remember segregation. I am not. I was stationed in the South when I was in the Air Force during the segregation era and I saw how the streets in the white neighborhoods were paved, but the streets in the black neighborhoods were still dirt roads.

I saw how black children were not allowed to ride the same school buses with white children, and I saw how racist politicians did everything they could to deny African Americans the right to vote.

I am a white man from New York City and those things shocked me. I was raised in a tenement and I went to high school in the South Bronx, one of the worst neighborhoods in the city. But blacks and white shared everything from sandwiches to classrooms, from buses to subway trains, and none of us thought anything of it.

I ran track in college and one of my close friends on the team was Tyrone Sydney Pannel. But Ty was killed in Vietnam on November 30, 1965. His name is on panel 3E, row 118 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Ty was black and I am white, but that didn't mean a thing. He was the fastest runner on the team and I was the slowest, but that didn't mean anything, either; we were teammates.

Maybe the World of Inquiry School athletes should think about what their protest during the national anthem would say to Tyrone Pannel.

Maybe they should realize that the president of the United States is an African American, and that there are 46 African Americans serving in the House of Representatives, and two African Americans serving in the US Senate.

I am a Vietnam veteran and I take it as a personal insult to my service to this country when athletes refuse to stand during the national anthem. Perhaps Mary Anna Towler and the World of Inquiry School athletes should listen to the words of The Star-Spangled Banner, which Francis Scott Key wrote after he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor by British ships during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812.

The Star-Spangled Banner is a tribute to the little guy (the Americans) standing up to the biggest bully in the world (the British) and not backing down.

About the only thing Mary Anna Towler got right was that the World of Inquiry School athletes were following the example of Colin Kaepernick.


Clinton's war presidency

In her latest Urban Journal (October 26), Mary Anna Towler laments that a Clinton presidency won't heal the nation's divisions because "bipartisanship is functionally dead." While this may be true of national politics and the electorate, bipartisan support for Clinton's militarist foreign policy is alarmingly robust and could lead us into the abyss.

Foreign policy writer Diana Johnstone has argued that Hillary Clinton's strategic ambition, explicit in her leaked Libya emails, is to "gain her place in history as victorious strategist of 'regime change' in Syria, Russia, and elsewhere." And for this, Johnstone adds, "she enjoys the support of most of the State Department and much of the Pentagon, and Congress is ready to go."

One example: a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this September on ongoing military operations revealed solid bipartisan support, with marginal objection, for US military engagement against Russian aggression.

Gary Leupp, Tufts University professor of history and religion, refers to "a rainbow coalition of... warmongers (both neocons and 'liberal interventionists'), former generals, Wall Street donors — everyone [Hillary] needs on board when she starts bombing Syria."

Washington Post White House correspondent Greg Jaffe reports that the Republicans and Democrats who make up the foreign policy elite are laying the ground work for a more assertive American foreign policy through a flurry of new bipartisan reports. One study by the Center for American Progress recommends the next administration step up its military engagement in a more "proactive and long-term approach to the Middle East."

"Taken together," Jaffe reports, "the studies and reports call for more aggressive American action to constrain Iran, rein in the chaos in the Middle East, and check Russia in Europe. The studies, which reflect Clinton's stated views, break most forcefully with Obama on Syria...Virtually all these efforts ... call for stepped up military action to deter President Bashar al-Assad's regime and Russian forces in Syria."

The mainstream media is also on board with this bipartisan agenda for war. Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, citing recent high-profile opinions in the Washington Post, Meet the Press, New York Times, and USA Today, entitles a recent article, "Media Roll Out Welcome Mat for 'Humanitarian' War in Syria." (To discuss the cruel absurdity of "humanitarian war" — what Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly calls an "ugly oxymoron" — would require another letter. Just think Iraq or Libya.)

As for a united nation behind a Clinton (war) presidency, be careful what you wish for.