“Peace is Patriotic”

Dear President Trump,

I generally like to set a walk or a run route in my head before I leave in the morning and usually I try to make sure it includes at least one pleasant thing to see, like a favorite tree or a Buddha statue. Well, today the plan was to go by a Buddha statue and then on the way home to swing by some pink peony flowers I discovered the other day that smell incredible; a multisensory neighborhood tour. It all worked out just fine and I got to see a blue jay as a bonus.

The other thing of note is that in the course of picking up litter along said route, I found a battered, bent, formerly round pin on which could be made out the words “Peace is Patriotic” and “Veterans for Peace.” I think such things are called badge buttons or alternatively pin-back buttons and their use to promote various causes dates back to 1896 according to busybeaver.net, which is definitely a weird website name but is the name of a company that makes a lot of cause buttons and apparently they are very, very proud of the legacy they are continuing and want to make sure folks know the history.

Anyway, the other thing to note about the badge button is that I carefully put it in a pocket and not into the trash bag, but when I got home and emptied my pockets of the other debris I was saving, it wasn’t there. I remembered having heard something drop at one point when I was getting some clumps of weird synthetic fiber out of grass in a nature strip, but I didn’t see anything when I looked around and figured I’d been mistaken. Apparently not. Apparently “Peace is Patriotic” became litter again. Hopefully someone else will find it and appreciate it (or I will find it again tomorrow when I retrace that part of my route) since it’s absolutely worth finding and appreciating no matter how worn and beat up it is.

It seemed especially fitting to have found that particular badge button this morning after writing to you yesterday about Memorial Day, surrender, and “The Flag We Should Know” (aka The Confederate Truce Flag). A great many of the veterans I know are peace advocates, especially those who were drafted to serve in Viet Nam. My guess is that most of them had far too many people to honor on Memorial Day and that a very large proportion of them not only felt moved to honor their friends and other fellow American soldiers who died during battle (or in the long, often invisible aftermath of battle), but also their “enemy” combatants who succumbed as well. Had you not had your “debilitating” “bone spurs,” you too might have experienced war first hand and might have learned that it’s not a good idea to have a bunch of powerful, death dealing weapons at your disposal because when they’re available you are more inclined to want to use them, threaten others with them, or sell them, with or without Congress’s approval.

Did you see the short piece in the WP this morning about the African American couple who’d just unpacked their picnic lunch by a lake in Mississippi when a white woman KOA employee accosted them and yelled “Get, get, you don’t belong here” with her gun drawn? She almost certainly has harbored racist attitudes for much of her life, but do you think maybe, just maybe your hateful rhetoric about non-white, non-Christian people and your not-at-all subtle condoning of white nationalists might have added some shitty fuel to her already simmering mess of beliefs? The young man had just returned from a deployment in the Middle East where he said no guns were ever drawn on him only to find himself facing a belligerent white lady pointing a gun at him and his life partner. Because they are African American. Welcome home.

Yep, welcome to the land of stand your ground with your damn guns because hey, you’ve got them and you never know when someone you don’t like the looks of is going to have the misfortune of crossing you and you will have the good fortune to feel all the more powerful because you have a f*cking gun to draw on them in the land of the unfree and the unbrave. And you, sir, Mr. President, whether by design or blunder, have made this situation far more volatile and dangerous for us all.

History will not treat you kindly because you all will not be among its authors (and not just because you are functionally illiterate).

May we be safe from weapons of individual and mass destruction.
May we be willing to stop and examine our sick fascination with violence.
May we understand that health and well-being are incompatible with guns.
May we choose a version of patriotism that is welcoming and peaceful.

Tracy Simpson

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