Mistress of the Mix: I Am a Patriot (Stop Telling Me I’m Not)

This week, as I prepare to march in my hometown 4th of July parade, I’m feeling more patriotic than ever. Wanna know why?

Because I give a shit. 

I feel like America has been rotting from the inside out for the past few years, and I’ve discovered that I actually care. Deeply. Not only that, I think if I were to have the opportunity to have a face-to- face meeting with the current president, I finally have something positive to say to him; something to thank him for. And that thing is this: I finally feel like I really understand and care about the principles that America was founded upon and the freedoms bestowed upon our citizens. Now, more than ever, I care about the philosophies our forefathers set forth in the Declaration of Independence. Maybe today would be a good day to read it.

Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness. 

Those are the main philosophical highlights from the Declaration of Independence. The things that they wished for us. And then there’s the philosophy that set the moral code that all Americans should strive for: that all of us are created equal. It’s taken a few hundred years to actually get to the place where all Americans are even close to being considered equal. We’re still not there yet. Also, I take issue with the fact that Thomas Jefferson used the word man, and not human or person. He said all men were created equal. But I’m not here to talk about women’s rights today, I’m here to talk about patriotism, and who has the right to decide who is and is not patriotic.

But first, liberty. Freedom. 

When we talk about freedoms bestowed upon us Americans, what we’re really talking about is the United States Constitution and its 27 amendments. I’m talking about the freedoms that our forefathers felt strongly enough to go to war with England over. The freedoms that they wanted to ensure for every American back then, right now, and into the future. The freedoms that I feel are under attack again. So thank you, Donald J. Trump, because you and your base are largely responsible for reminding me what those freedoms are, how precious they are, and how caring about those freedoms and being willing to stand up for them is what actually defines a patriot.

Back in the 1770s, Americans wanted to be free from the religious shackles that had been forced upon them by England. That does not mean that Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin or any of the other statesmen who created the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution weren’t spiritual people who believed in a creator. Many of them did. Some of them didn’t. Many of them believed differently from one another. But they all agreed that trying to force a single religion down the throats of citizens and using that religion to control them was not acceptable in this country. It is literally the very first item on their agenda in the 1st Amendment. It is quickly followed by a phrase that also gives Americans the freedom to exercise a religion if they so wish. My takeaway? Practice a religion or don’t practice a religion. Your choice, your right. But don’t use a religion to govern or infringe upon the rights of citizens.

The other freedoms written into the 1st Amendment secure our rights in regards to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to peacefully assemble and finally the right to petition the government.

The right to petition the government. What does this mean? It means that the first government of the United States of America understood that not every citizen was always going to be happy with the way the government was being run. And yet, they believed that citizens should have the right to complain about the government and to the government without fear of punishment or reprisal.

Somehow in the past couple of years, things have been flipped upside down, and our current administration is trampling all over the protections of the 1st Amendment, with no apologies. Freedom of The Press? Not a day goes by that the current administration isn’t actively declaring war on the press. Freedom of Speech? Only if you’re agreeing with them. And that last freedom…the Freedom to Petition?

This is when I get to talk about our hometown hero, Megan Rapinoe.

Rapinoe is clearly the biggest athletic force to ever be born and raised in Shasta County. She is setting a heck of a fine example of how far one can go in life if one works and trains hard, and shows determination and grit. Rapinoe has been scoring goal after goal after goal both on and off the soccer field. She is more than a gold-medal winning Olympic athlete. In fact, more importantly, she is a tireless advocate for equality.

One of the things that makes her so special is that she is not just standing up for women’s equality, and she’s not just an out-gay woman pushing for LGBTQ+ rights. She is also standing up for the rights of other people who fall outside of her own demographic because she believes it’s the right thing to do. As the first female athlete and the first white athlete to do so, Megan Rapinoe took a knee in 2016 during the national anthem, to highlight systemic racism in the United States. That dedication to standing up to oppression and inequality is why she is using her moment in the spotlight as the nation’s most celebrated female athlete, calling attention to the things she feels the current political administration is getting wrong. She doesn’t kneel during the anthem any longer, but that’s really only because the soccer federation passed a rule requiring players to stand during the anthem. So she stands. But she doesn’t put her hand over her heart, and she doesn’t sing.

And people who call themselves patriotic are raking her over the coals for that, saying she’s disrespecting the flag. Customers of Jack’s Grill, where Megan’s mom has worked for decades, complained about her un-American behavior until photos of the soccer star were removed from the establishment’s walls.

These people misunderstand what a patriot is. Megan Rapinoe is not disrespecting the flag. She’s exercising her American right to express her opinion that she’s not happy with the way some things are being handled in her country. I think if she didn’t love her country, she wouldn’t bother protesting. Clearly, she gives a shit. And I believe that not only should we be proud of her accomplishments, we should be proud that she has the guts and the bravery to stand up for what she believes in. Because she believes in freedom and all people being equal. She believes in the philosophies that our forefathers intended when they built this nation. She is the epitome of a patriotic American. It is those who are claiming Rapinoe is behaving in un-American fashion who are being unpatriotic.

Spread that on your toast and eat it, haters.

What I find kind of ridiculous about the whole thing is that Megan Rapinoe is doing a whole lot of nothing for the incredible amount of attention she’s received during this year’s World Cup season. Wait, that came out wrong. What I mean to say is that on the field she’s a baller. She is out there playing as hard as she can for Redding, for Shasta County, for California, for the U.S.A. She is iconic.

But off the field, before the game, she’s just being completely silent, and saying nothing. She’s not putting her hand over her heart like some do, and she’s not singing the national anthem, like some do. But that’s not wrong behavior. It’s no more wrong than the president singing a few lyrics and then giving up completely, as seen in this video below (where, I might add, the rest of the people don’t have their hands over their hearts and aren’t singing either).

Don’t feel like you have to watch it. It’s cringeworthy. No, wait. I think you should watch it, so you can see how this guy – who has consistently criticized athletes who don’t sing the national anthem, as being unpatriotic – sings the national anthem. Or, if you’re feeling particularly feisty today, you could just head over here and watch the bad lip sync version of the same video. It’s better than #unwantedivanka.

Every day that Donald J. Trump uses his position as the leader of the United States of America to try to punish and bully anyone who does not agree with him or his policies, is a day that he is behaving in extraordinarily unpatriotic fashion. It would be so nice if Trump would just put his phone down and focus on being a president instead of using his precious time as the leader of the free world to attack his citizenry. It’s downright un-American.

The next time someone tells you that you are disrespecting the flag because you’re not standing the right way with your hand placed just so, with your hat in your hand, singing the words to the national anthem? Don’t worry. That’s not what what patriotism is actually about. And don’t let anyone who’s trying to take your rights away tell you otherwise. Even those people who are criticizing Megan Rapinoe? They’re just exercising their 1st Amendment freedoms, too.

But those of you who support marriage equality for LGBTQ+ citizens? You are a patriot. You support equal rights for women and people of color? You’re a patriot. You take issue with the Conservative Christian Right trying to take away reproductive health care decisions from women? You are a patriot, too. You take a knee in peaceful protest to call attention to systematic racism in this country? You are also a patriot. Our forefathers fought a war and formed a new country to give us these freedoms, and over time we have expanded these freedoms. Trying to take those freedoms away is unpatriotic.

If you’re feeling like waving your freak flag today and show off how much you love your country with some music, here’s a streaming 4th of July playlist that will hopefully satisfy that need.

And now I’m gonna put on my tiara and my gold cape, and go march in a parade.

Valerie Ing
Valerie Ing has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for 14 years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She and her husband are parents to a couple of college students and a pair of West Highland Terriers, and Valerie can’t imagine life without them or music. The Mistress of the Mix wakes up every day with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
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50 Responses

  1. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    Was there a reason God Bless America by Kate Smith was not on the playlist? I actually have the Kate Smith vinyl album with that patriotic song on it.

    • Avatar don says:

      A few years ago it was noted that Kate Smith had performed racist songs before she did God Bless America. Her work has fallen from favor since then. I don’t know much about it, but am sure google can fill you in.

      • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

        Don, I am well aware of why Kate Smith has fallen out of favor and been banned by two pro sports teams. Two former songs she performed, and had been performed by black singers, were deemed today to be racist. It seems patriotism is selective in what is patriotic which is unpatriotic in itself. Past history is being erased by those who think it is offensive.
        Nike’s Betsy Ross shoe has been pulled from retail outlets over Kap’s objections and now is being sold online auctions for much more than they are worth. Despite Governor Ducey’s rant to offer no tax breaks Goodyear has stated they will honor their commitment to Nike. Nike has announced they are still building their plant in Goodyear. 500 jobs in a town smaller than Redding.
        Patriotism has split this country even more over what is patriotic and what is not.

        • Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

          Bruce…I think the reason I didn’t include this song is because it just didn’t occur to me. I mix up God Bless America with America the Beautiful all the time…and I included 3 versions of that song!!

  2. Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

    Val, I’ve been a fan of yours since before I met you (and it’s cool I get to call you friend!), but this piece has got to be my favorite. It’s fierce and feisty and fair and I love it. Thank you for the reminder of what being an American is truly about.

    Megan Rapinoe’s protest could not BE more patriotic. It’s speaking out when she knows what she says will be unpopular and could come at a cost and she stands her ground. That’s brave and noble and she will always be a hero to me.

  3. Avatar Robb says:

    Well said, Valarie. March with pride. We’ll be there in spirit. I miss Shasta County (now that we live in Chico) and the 24 years we lived in Palo Cedro saw us meet some amazing people. My daughters were in school with Megan and we are in awe of her. I only wish that one of the pivotal coaches in the Palo Cedro soccer scene, Rip Ash, was alive today to see what came of the passion he had for soccer and the talent he helped develop. He was one of the lead organizers in the Palo Cedro Youth Soccer Organization, and was committed to developing world-class talent. He trained many players and coaches. (Sad to say, I wasn’t that great a soccer coach myself, but good enough to know genius when I saw it.) Anyway, I’m pleased that you gave this shout-out to Megan. She really is amazing and her talent is a testimony to her talent and hard work… and to amazing coaches like Rip.

  4. Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

    Isn’t there a saying along the lines of “one man’s traitor is another man’s patriot”?

    A dear friend (American), as a wonderful joke, bought her British husband a t-shirt with the Union Jack on it, captioned, “Happy Treason Day, Ungrateful Colonials.” They live in the US and he is, of course, wearing it today. And we all got to have a chuckle over it because it’s funny and it shows two sides of the long-ago ‘argument’ so to speak, and because in America you can wear t-shirts with slogans whether they toe some sort of patriotic line or not, because freedom of speech/expression exists.

    Flag-waving, anthem-singing, military-parade-having “patriotism” has always troubled me, even as a child. I’ve never thought that chest-beating equates patriotism. Loving my country has always meant believing in the principles upon which it was founded, to which you have referred so eloquently. These days I love the *idea* of America – the idea that everyone is created equal, that freedom means freedom for all, and that we are allowed to petition or march or protest peacefully if we want change, because we believe the government is going in a direction that is harmful to our country. Living out of the US I constantly get questioned about American, as in, “what is going on THERE?” and I have no answer; I just have to endure the looks I get.

    Looking across the sea from 3,000 miles away I am sad and afraid for the things I see happening in America. Some of those things are happening here in the UK (and other countries) as well, and I wonder at what the world is becoming, once again.

    Thank you for this column, Val. I wish everyone could read it with an open mind.

    • Avatar Anita Brady says:

      Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

      “Boswell tells us that Samuel Johnson made this famous pronouncement that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel on the evening of April 7, 1775. He doesn’t provide any context for how the remark arose, so we don’t really know for sure what was on Johnson’s mind at the time.

      However, Boswell assures us that Johnson was not indicting patriotism in general, only false patriotism.” This last part seems especially pertinent today.

  5. Avatar Carrie Dokter says:

    I enjoyed this playlist more than any other!

  6. Right on, Val!
    One of the things I love about being an American is we have the right to express ourselves and protest in ways that might get some killed in another country.
    I stand behind Megan and am proud she’s from here.
    Thank you, Val.
    Happy Independence Day, everyone.

  7. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    FIRST OF ALL . . .. Thank you for including two versions of America the Beautiful. For my money that is the song that should be our national anthem. I’ve always thought so. Danny Thomas launched an almost successful effort to get it changed back in the late ’50’s early 60’s.
    SECONDLY . . . . the epitome of patriotism is the willingness to speak out against what you perceive as injustice, regardless of the personal cost. This whole idea that one has to be in lock-step expression of patriotism in order for it to count, is so bass-ackward to what our forefathers intended. Makes me want to round up some folks and ship them to the streets of Hong Kong where patriots are seriously risking life and imprisonment for the freedom to speak out.
    RIGHT ON MEGAN . . . . RIGHT ON COLIN . . . .RIGHT ON VAL (hey, you’re keeping some pretty heady company there)

  8. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    P.S. I was wondering the other day how things were going down at Jack’s. Makes me sad to think they had o bow to negative customer pressure. Makes me want to rent the store next door and put up a “MEGAN FOR PATRIOT OF THE YEAR” banner across the front!!

  9. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    “This week, as I prepare to march in my hometown 4th of July parade, I’m feeling more patriotic than ever. Wanna know why?”

    “Because I give a shit.”

    “Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness. ”

    Those who “give a shit” Ms Ing take this day and moment in history and think about the multitudes of Redding and Shasta county homeless veterans dying on our streets and gutters.

    Those that believe in “Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness. ” know the city of Redding has taken those concepts away from the poor and homeless long ago criminalizing them for everyday living and life sustaining activities necessary to survive,indeed being homeless IS A CRIME IN REDDING.

    City officials are taking their personal, private possessions as well as necessary survival gear and NOT holding them for 90 days by law.

    A far cry from flying the Megan Rapino flag , a real Yankee Doodle Dandy…

    And finally Ms Ing have you taken the opportunity to address these issues on your Jefferson Public Radio show ?

    • Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

      Thank you for using your 1st Amendment right to speak about your passion, Chris. My show would not be the correct venue to discuss this issue (or any issue) outside of things related to classical music. However, JPR’s award winning discussion & call-in show The Jefferson Exchange (Mon-Fri 8-10am at 1330AM in Shasta County) is the perfect place. In fact last year we dedicated an entire month covering this issue county by county. All our episodes are available as podcasts on our website. Search for it on Ijpr.org.

  10. Avatar Nancy Hill says:

    Hi friend. You hit it square on the head. I couldn’t be more proud of you for standing up and saying what needs to be said. Megan is my hero and in a town where a good deal of the community that has lost site of what it is to truly be an American, you are also a hero for doing so as well. You rock.

  11. Avatar Randy says:

    I love that ‘patriotism’ is being reclaimed as force for mutual respect and collective goodwill in the world. Repugnant as it is to me that Jack’s Grill had to cave in to the petty demands of self importance I am pressed to just suck it up and trust that love and goodwill are stronger, more enduring forces than are the forces hate and ignorance. Great letters like this one help me to keep on a positive track. Thanks.

  12. Avatar Janet Williams says:

    Thank you so much for putting into words my sentiments. I feel less alone.

  13. Avatar Claudia Hastings says:

    Excellent post for the 4th of July! Thank you.

  14. Avatar Candace C says:


  15. Avatar Judy says:

    Well Valerie- I just love you. Thank you

  16. Avatar Peggy Elwood says:

    Also my favorite article of yours! 100% behind Megan and her considered protest and bravery for standing up for what is right. And thank you for speaking out and up for her! I am very disappointed in Jack’s Grill.

    • Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

      Just a little aside . . . ” . . . what’s right.” is not the patriotism element. It’s the standing up part. I do not have agree with what you are standing up for (in this case I do stand with Megan 126%) but I do have to support your right to stand up. Thank you Val (and Doni), for giving us a forum in which to stand up!!

  17. ….It would make me not want to support a restaurant that didn’t stand by a hometown girl whose mother had worked there for decades.

  18. Avatar Judith Salter says:

    Don’t give into that urge to reject. That’s what Trump does. Instead we should all just walk in wearing Rapinoe shirts and celebrate our distinct gift of safely disagreeing. We ARE the land of the FREE

  19. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    What night are we all going to Jacks and where do I get m Rapino shirt!!!

  20. Avatar Candace C says:

    Land of the free? Nah. Not currently. Infants and children being inhumanely separated from parents and locked up isn’t my idea of freedom. I don’t feel like being polite about atrocities taking place on our watch and I have no problem choosing to not support a business other than the fact that in this particular instance said business is where Megan Rapinoe’s mother collects her paycheck. At the same time, I also think your idea of folks showing up wearing t-shirts in support of Megan ( and her mother) is brilliant.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Candace…Yes, we are absolutely the Land of the Free. Why do you suppose those hundreds of thousands of immigrants are trying to cross our border? Because we are an evil country? No…they come here because we are the best nation on the planet with opportunities for everyone. They come here for jobs, for freedom, the pursuit of happiness. Those that are detained you must know came here voluntarily. If they wanted to, they can leave and head back to Central America…but they don’t want to. Remember back in Jan and Feb where all Democrat leaders scolded the president for the “manufactured crisis at the border”. Where border officials begged for help and Pelosi and Democrat leaders ignored them. Now that they finally realize there is a crisis..mit is Trump’s fault. Amazing.

  21. Avatar Candace C says:

    Valerie, just want to clarify that my original “ “Yes” comment was in response to your column. My separate latter comment was not directed at you. I forget sometimes to preface my comments with who or what I’m responding to. I shared your column on FB page. Hope you’re having a grand day.

  22. Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

    I totally got ya…

  23. Avatar Steve Murray says:

    I agree completely Valerie. Clearly stated clear writing… congratulations.
    One of the most disturbing and head shaking images of the trump era to me is him hugging the flag with that smarmy, goofy grin on his face. Look up demagogue in the dictionary and you should see that image.
    I have been predicting for two years now that he will try, at some point, to suspend all or part of the constitution. Who will stop him? Be ready, he is dangerous!

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      “…He is dangerous”. What had the president done to convince you he is dangerous? Anything? And what part of the Constitution do you think he wants to suspend? We know the Democrats want to suspend part of the Constitution that concerns how we elect presidents. But I have no inclination if President Trump wanting to suspend the Constitution. How do you suppose he will do that? Trump Derangement Syndrome seems to be getting worse around here.

      • Avatar Randy says:

        He is so illiterate he actually stood before the world and stated that our ‘Army” took over airports in 1775. Trump lives in a personal fantasy that has no borders of truth, reason or morals and he expects he can to run our country and the world like his own set of personal toys. He is a danger to our planet and the GOP are enabling him.

        • Avatar Doug Cook says:

          Randy, because a teleprompter malfunctioned and he misspoke, that makes him dangerous?

          • Avatar Randy says:

            He is the president of the US, should he not be responsible for the words he speaks to the world? The danger is in the fact that Trump either doesn’t know the difference between fact and fantasy or he doesn’t care. This particular instance just highlights Trump’s inability to focus on accuracy of facts and his oblivious comfort with making completely false claims and making up reality as he goes. There us no greater position of power and influence in the world than POTUS and the ineptitude of Trump puts our planet in grave danger.

          • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

            Since when does Trump follow a teleprompter?

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Randy…I can find gaffes by every president going back to George Washington. Does that make Trump dangerous? Obama famously said in an interview…””What I was suggesting — you’re absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith…” Did President Obama admit that he was a Muslim? No, of course not…he misspoke. Did that make him dangerous?

          • Avatar Randy says:

            One more time Doug. “This particular instance just highlights Trump’s inability to focus on accuracy of facts and his oblivious comfort with making completely false claims and making up reality as he goes. There is no greater position of power and influence in the world than POTUS and the ineptitude of Trump puts our planet in grave danger.”.

      • Avatar Steve Murray says:

        Doug, you are being willfully blind. Nothing I could say here could matter to you. But there is NO QUESTION he is a dangerous man…. ask the women he has assaulted, including rape.

  24. Avatar Susan M. says:

    Thank you for this strong, intelligent article. I agree 100%.

  25. Avatar Candace C says:

    Doug, Exactly. They came for the hope of a better life. I highly doubt that their pursuit of happiness included having their infants and children separated from them indefinitely. Many run the risk of being raped or killed if they go home. It’s not our country I take exception with any administration’s policy to separate children from their parents while painting all asylum seekers as criminals. Fortunately you and I have not had to flee our country with our children in order to escape extreme poverty, rape or death. At least I know I haven’t.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      Candace, what is your objection to asylum seekers queuing in Mexico until granted legal entry? They’re not in imminent danger there.

  26. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    The Canucks and Aussies and others in the British Empire eventually gained their independence without going to war. But unlike the Commonwealth nations, we don’t have to continue to kowtow to a hereditary monarch.

    Worth it!

  27. Avatar Kirsten Plate says:

    …and come to the game, EVERYBODY!