Archive for ‘History’

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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06/02/2012

Flushing, Queens, New York. Not Vlissingen, New Amsterdam.

Johan Santana celebrates after his no hitter. Straight up stolen from the AP.

I’ve always thought “Flushing” was a stupid name for a city. We associate the word mostly with toilets.

Terrible.

I was reminded of it last night as I watched Johan Santana throw the first no hitter in New York Mets history. In watching and reading the coverage from several media outlets across the nation, I saw many of them refer to the events happening in Flushing, and every time they said it, I remembered myself as an eight year old kid. When my dad told me the Mets played in Flushing, I was perplexed. “There’s a town called ‘Flushing.’ And the Mets play there? Gross.” I kind of felt like the rest of baseball has always silently snickered about how the Mets play in Flushing, referring to Shea Stadium as a toilet.

So why the hell is that town called Flushing?

Turns out that the area was originally named Vlissingen by the Dutch when they settled in what is now New York City. Vlissingen is also the name of an existing town in the Netherlands which has been around since 1315. All the way back in the 1600’s, the English started referring to that Dutch town as something more Anglo: “Flussingue.” That eventually became “Flushing.” So, after the British took over the New Netherlands colony, the New World Vlissingen simply became Flushing around the end of the 17th century.

All this happened a few hundred years before flushable toilets in homes became popular. The phrase “flush the toilet” was nearly non-existent in English writing until the 20th century. Here’s the Google Ngram picture for the phrase.

“Flush the toilet” historically.

So, you know, the name of Flushing, Queens where my New York Mets play has NOTHING to do with toilets. Not even close. I feel way better about the name now. My inner, snickering eight year old has been somewhat pacified.

*Most of the information about the historical aspects of Flushing and Dutch/English occupation was culled from Wikipedia, so I generalized it to make sure it didn’t really make a difference for the point I was trying to make. If I made any important mistake, feel free to point it out in the comments.