Patriotism as Fake Conflict

Patriotism as Fake Conflict

Hello campbellsworld visitors.

Today I bring to you, a post by a fellow co-author friend of mine, Peter Altschul.

His books Breaking Barriers: Working and Loving While Blind and Breaking It Down and Connecting the Dots: Creating Common Ground Where Contention Rules are, amazing in their own right, but the article below, well, this is something to be read, thought about, and most assuredly shared.

I’ll say no more. I don’t want to influence your thinking on the subject at hand in any way. I’d like to let Peter do that.

And so, I give you Peter Altschul

Patriotism as fake conflict.


Peter Altschul

Conflict Management

During the past fifty years, I have attended professional and college sporting events in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and, more recently, Missouri. While standing for performances of the “Star Spangled Banner”, I have heard fans continue conversations that they had started prior to being asked to stand. I have heard loud one-way conversations between fans and someone else, presumably linked by a cell phone. I have heard men shout insults at opposing fans, opposing team members, or referees. I have heard performances drowned out by verbal bedlam, air horns, and clanging cowbells. I have heard vendors hawking hot dogs, beer, soda, peanuts, and home-team paraphernalia.

But I have never heard complaints from anyone about these behaviors of mostly prosperous white men. Aren’t these behaviors disrespectful of God, country, the military, and our flag?

Perhaps, it’s the kneeling that’s disrespectful? But many people kneel while praying, and conservative Christian radio hosts constantly beg us to pray for our nation.

So why are these mostly prosperous white men howling about how some wealthy African American football players are kneeling rather than standing for the patriotic pre-game show? What would have happened if Tim Tebow, a white evangelical Christian and recently-retired quarterback, had chosen to kneel during the playing of the anthem because of his belief that the United States government sanctions the murder of unborn babies?

This conflict over patriotism is manufactured. It’s fake. It’s designed to draw energy from the profound conflict between most African Americans and many Caucasians over the extent to which we are living the values the United States flag represents. More specifically, we disagree profoundly about the extent to which mostly white police officers should be allowed to kill or injure people and destroy property when they believe that someone different from themselves has done something wrong. As Colin Kaepernick said last year:

“America refuses to address the pervasive evil of white cops killing black men, and I will not stand during a national anthem that honors the flag of such a country!”

President Trump’s tweetstorm threatens to change the conversation from law enforcement-African American relations to Trump’s character and performance as president. The kneeling strategy has been remarkably successful, but perhaps the original kneelers could work with others to create something new that would refocus attention on the original conflict.

President Trump’s interference has also created a tentative bond between NFL players and management. Imagine what might happen if both groups strengthened this bond by working together to make the game safer, support those retired players diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, and improve the disciplinary process to prevent embarrassing protracted court battles. Perhaps owners could leverage their media contacts to publicize efforts of those players who are working to bridge the African American-law enforcement divide.

For those of us who aren’t professional athletes and interested in learning more about effective policing of minority communities, I highly recommend David Brown’s recently-published book Called to Rise: A Life in Faithful Service to the Community That Made Me. This African American’s journey from police recruit to Dallas’s police chief and the tragedies and lessons learned along the way will deepen our respect of minority communities and the police officers who serve them.

Are we brave enough to walk more humbly and act more justly? Are we brave enough to work against President Trump’s tendency to divide us by listening deeply to, and working more closely with, people different than us to become a better nation? If not, we might no longer live in the land of the free.

diversity patriotism

Also see

and a satiric ditty honoring Roy Moore, the likely future senator from Alabama.

Books by Peter Altschul

Breaking Barriers: Working and Loving While Blind available at:

By Peter Altschul, MS

For some unknown reason, Peter Altschul was born totally blind. He grew up in a working-class town where, with the help of his persistent mother, he broke through barrier after barrier, determined to live a full life.

This memoir reveals one man’s journey through blindness as he teams with his five guide dogs to overcome personal challenges and eventually discovers love, success, and happiness.

And his newest release, available at

Breaking It Down and Connecting the Dots: Creating Common Ground Where Contention Rules

When Chicken Soup for the Soul and political insanity merge.

In this book of compact essays, Peter Altschul, MS, explores topics ranging from psychology, sports, and diversity to family life, politics, and Christianity.  Peruse this book, and you’ll find personal stories, political analysis, and satire.  You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; you’ll think.  You might find connections you’ve never seen before and common ground where you think none is possible.  And perhaps you’ll be influenced to behave a little differently in order to make things a little – or a lot – better.

Author Biography: Peter Altschul’s journey has been kaleidoscopic.  Ivy league graduate.  Customer service rep at the most hated federal government agency.  Grants manager.  Trainer of New York City taxi drivers.  Mediator between pro-life and pro-choice activists.  Workplace diversity and conflict management specialist.  Author, editor, musician, husband, and stepdad.  All with the assistance of six wonderfully quirky guide dogs.

Well, folks, that’s all for now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this offering, and I hope it made you stop and think.

If it did, please, let us know your thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by, and blessid be.


One Comment

  1. Thank you for this article. This is such an important conversation to have, but far too many white people don’t want to a) be reminded of their privilege (not all privilege is financial) or b) shaken out of the comfort of their bread and circuses. We need to be willing to be uncomfortable before we can learn more, get better, and do better.

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