Archive for July, 2018

07/20/2018

Standing for the national anthem is political speech.

4-19-flag

The NFL is not, in any way, required to play the national anthem prior to games. So why do they? Here’s a TIME article that gives some of the history of it. The short answer is they did it due to trying to express solidarity as a country during times of war, and it’s become a tradition few people have ever thought to criticize.

This, though, is an act of political speech. And this is a point I think that is lost on most people because it has become so deeply ingrained in the American psyche that it is unquestioned and taken as the normal, de facto part of American life. Americans have been taught to stand for the anthem. That’s just what you’re supposed to do. Nothing political about it.

In reality, it’s a very political decision to stand for the anthem. To do so that means that you support this country, and to some degree, depending on how religiously devoted to the military you are, that you support American troops overseas and at home. And both of those things, supporting the country and supporting the troops, are actual political speech. They are statements of support of American policies and military actions.

So who’s being political here? The players when they kneel? Or the NFL when they decide to play the anthem? Both. They’re both bringing politics into football, but one of them is only reacting to the other.

Showing support for America, or even wanting to show solidarity against foreign influence, is a political stance. Playing the anthem is a political decision. And I want to make this clear:

Standing for the anthem is a political choice. Not standing for the anthem is a political choice. Kneeling for the anthem is a political choice. There’s not a non-political choice here. You have to endorse a position. So what do we do if we don’t want players being political at games?

Stop playing the anthem before the game.

Then we’re done. All politics removed.

That should be the solution we can all agree to if choosing to kneel for the anthem is anathema to some people.

But that’s never been what this is about, so that wouldn’t mollify the people who are complaining about it the loudest. This has always been about two things:

  1. Making sure that black players do not have a chance to express their feelings because nothing pisses off some people more than when a black person has an opinion.
  2. Forcing people to take a political stance because they endorse that political position.

This is all about forced “patriotism” and forced “respect.” The people complaining about kneeling during the flag want the NFL, a private company, to force their employees to give up their freedom of speech. Once again, choosing to stand for the anthem is a political choice. And punishing people who don’t is punishing them for refusing to endorse a position with which they disagree.

So we’re down to two options for people aggrieved by other people who kneel during songs:

  1. You either agree that the anthem shouldn’t be played at the games.
  2. You agree that private organizations can compel people to endorse political positions they do not support.

And if you agree to #2, you’re saying that your boss can ask you to wear a Hillary Clinton shirt tomorrow, and if you refuse, she can fire you. For that reason.

Personally, I think option #2 is fucking stupid. If my job is to make sandwiches, as long as I’m making sandwiches, you should leave me the fuck alone. If you want to force me to start endorsing political positions, like supporting abortion or standing for the flag, while I make those sandwiches, that’s just bizarre and fascist. It’s totalitarian. And I would argue: un-American.

And if the NFL punishes a player for their political speech when they kneel or sit, then they’re effectively saying: “We get to be political by playing the anthem, but you don’t get to be political by kneeling.” To which I reply: get fuckethed, NFL.

I don’t care if the anthem is played at games. I’ve always found it bizarre and useless, but whatever. Play it, don’t play it; it makes no difference to me. But forcing people to stand for it? Go fuck yourself. Get over yourself. Other people are allowed to do things you don’t like providing they’re not hurting anyone else. And kneeling down or sitting hurts precisely no one. Unless your feelings are hurt. Then grow the fuck up.

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