Josh Howard Has Every Right to Speak His Mind

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Josh Howard Has Every Right to Speak His Mind
As Voltaire said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.”

That’s exactly how I feel about NBA star Josh Howard, who appeared on video saying, “The ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ is going on. I don't celebrate this {expletive}. I'm black."

It’s now on the Web.

Why should Howard be fined—as some commentators have suggested—or otherwise disciplined by anybody for exercising his Constitutional right to speak his mind?

It’s called free speech – the very speech that our national anthem symbolically represents as having been secured by throwing off the chains of an oppressor.

By fining Howard, the NBA would send a message that it does not endorse the very freedom of speech that U.S. veterans have defended, with many paying the ultimate sacrifice.

Although I am entirely against nationalism, which has proven its malignancy over humanity’s history, patriotism is not something to be scoffed at. There is nothing wrong with loving one’s own country.

Before you send me the hate mail, however, I must disclose that I have an all-weather American flag at my home that flies every single day of the year.

Numerous black commentators said that Howard’s comment should not be taken as representative of the black community. That seems rather obvious to me, however, because to do so would a “guilt-by-association” stereotype. The last thing our country needs is more prejudice.

I don’t know Howard and I don’t know the environment in which he grew up, but I prefer to recognize our nation’s successes. Our country is increasingly home to many Americans from many cultural and racial backgrounds that make America the most diverse society on earth.

Americans alive today will not recognize the America that will be in 100 years.

As U2’s Bono sings, “All colors will bleed into one.”

While I certainly love my country, I recognize its indignities that include racism, which has led to a large disenfranchised black population. As a longtime serious student of history, I know well the ties of present-day society to our racist past that supported slavery’s godlessness and evilness.

What should bother America more than Howard’s words is the fact that racism remains a cancer in our collective soul that, if not reconciled, will consume us.

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