Ted Johnson wrote for Politico on what it means to be a black veteran in a political climate where patriotism is racialized:
Is there such a thing as a black American?
This is a really easy question that the United States has yet to answer correctly. And it’s for this reason that I am worried about the future of our country.
That last statement can feel cliche given our current environment, where partisans spin routine conflicts into existential threats and describe every election as the final verdict on the nation’s fate. But something different is happening in our politics today.
There seems to be a subtle but concerted effort to paint black citizens who criticize President Donald Trump or the United States as un-American. Black people who dare suggest that the country is not living up to its professed ideals are offhandedly deemed unpatriotic and ungrateful for the blessing of being born in the “shining city upon a hill.” If our critiques are not met with a crude suggestion to buy a one-way ticket “back” to Africa, we’re accused of rent-seeking in laziness and victimization. It’s as though some political strategist discovered the best way to counter claims that our leaders are indifferent to pervasive racial inequalities is to imply the accusers hate the nation and the troops.