Of dogs and protest

Isaac Martin, Political Contributor

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America is protected by a mighty guardian. He has seen our country through times both thick and thin, warding off conniving crooks and brutish thugs alike. He is not the only of his kind most nations possess such a champion to defend themselves, though none of the stature of our nation’s protector.

In fact, he is so widely admired that many other nations, for their own defense, either hire pretenders with smatterings of the greatness or else seek to hire our guardian himself. For over 200 years, he has kept watch over our country, a span of time unequalled by any other living defender anywhere in the world.

Who or what is this great hero of our nation? None other than the United States Constitution. It has worked so well in protecting our liberties and tranquility over the past two-and-a-quarter centuries because it allows we the people to take our government to task.

We read in the First Amendment that, “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the . . . right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Unlike communist Russia, totalitarian China or feudal England, we the people of the United States are free to express our displeasure with our leaders without fear of lawful reprisal. Historically, this has not been the case for most people in most countries around the globe.

We are truly blessed to live in a land where penning a political column like this one will not mean a prison sentence for “inciting sedition.” Yet today, an ominous threat has emerged with an oddly palatable malignancy.

You’ve no doubt seen or heard about the mini-riots in Berkeley, the caustic Women’s March on Washington, or the scattered “Not my President’s Day” protests on President’s Day last week.

There is a heated debate going on in America right now that has even seen skirmishes here at Oakland University say at the Elliott Tower. While frustration over government is understandable and even acceptable, the mounting, increasingly prevalent anger with which these protests are being executed is not.

We must be cautious as a student body in not sanctimoniously deriding those whom we disagree with. We each have differing convictions and ideals good, let us each be sure of their validity. However, whether or not we are right in our opinions, it is undeniably wrong to impugn the motives or ridicule the intelligence of those with whom we disagree.

We must be especially careful not to demean and dehumanize our leaders regardless of party or political persuasion. By comparing our president to a dog or referring to our representatives as “idiots,” we actually insulting ourselves. They, our leaders, represent us as a nation. Though you may strongly disagree with their policies or public rhetoric, demonizing them is disrespectful.

We have the unprecedented opportunity to protest and tell our government that we won’t tolerate injustice or tyranny. This is why our Constitution has stood the test of time because of the freedom of speech. Yet, we must remember that our government is ultimately a government of the people: If we respect (or disrespect) our leaders, we are actually respecting (or disrespecting) our neighbors and friends.

We may need to disagree with one another, especially over someone as polarizing as President Donald Trump. However, we do not need to do so disagreeably.