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The chattering media have done it yet again. Instead of focusing on very real international disasters from hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes and volcanos, not to mention nuclear power failures and belligerent nation-states, they choose to concentrate on sports figures disrespecting our national anthem. This choice serves to distract and further divide a nation, already torn asunder by race, sex, gender, and political affiliation. What ever happened to “United We Stand, and Divided We Fall?”

Looking back at the human history I gleaned from schooling, family units evolved into tribes, clans, and eventually nations. A common language and culture, ultimately codified by geographic boundaries solidified into units. Common needs united humans and common symbols reinforced this bond. Symbols grew to include clothing, celebrations, pledges and anthems. Children were taught respect for symbols at an early age and respect was reinforced through daily and periodic activity. Empires follow when leaders’ desire for power outgrows national borders. While empires eventfully fail, nations are longer lived, perhaps because of commonalities. Lifetime observations have led me to believe that the larger the entity, the less accountable and efficient it becomes. The most recent glaring example can be seen in Houston where local churches and individuals have shown more compassion and efficiency for hurricane relief than the mighty Red Cross.

The United States was formed as a federalist democracy under a constitution with checks and balances to maintain stability. Nothing devised by man and maintained by man is ever perfect, but our founding fathers foresaw many potential flaws and did their best to circumvent them as much as possible.

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As I see current events, one faction in America holds true to founding principles and others seek change. In efforts to accomplish this change, leaders are taking the path of dividing the nation into splinter sects, each with a different and often even conflicting agenda. For example, how can feminists and homosexuals ever reconcile their goals with Islamic law? A divided house can not stand and currently forces to divide us seemingly outnumber those which unite.

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When sports figures and other entertainers decide to expand their venue into the realm of politics, participants immediately invite dissension and division among followers. Before jumping on bandwagons, how many ask themselves these questions?
Do I believe in national borders and citizenship rights for legal citizens associated within these borders?
Do I want to live in a country where there is a single standard for all citizens or do I want exemptions for special groups?
Do I want leaders who advocate, “Do as I say, not as I do?”
Do I want to live in a nation under law with organizations employed to uphold and enforce law?
Do I want bad or outmoded laws changed through an orderly legal process?
Do I believe purveyors of goods and services have the right to set personal boundaries for what and when they offer?
Perceived social injustice, hatred for Trump or the police, racial bias or any other articulated “wrong” publicized by sports and entertainment figures in my mind is simply using the wrong venue. America has favored these people with massive wealth and prestige. Instead of tearing down the very fabric of what made it possible for them, in my opinion, they should donate spare time and money to fix things and garner favorable publicity for these problems through coverage of good works rather than the divisive and negative atmosphere I observe today. Yes, the first amendment offers them the right to free speech, but personal judgement suggests when it is appropriate and when it is not.

Shame on the media for allowing themselves to be used in this way and abdicating a charter trust for responsible journalism, fair and balanced.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

Beverly Anne Barnum

Retired former Direct of Newspaper Research E.W. Scripps Corporate Director Research Harte Hanks Communications Masters Degree from the University of Florida


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