During World War II, baseball games in the United States became places for large-scale displays of patriotism. “The Star-Spangled Banner,” was sung before the games during the course of the war as a way to build patriotism. At the wars end, the ode to the flag had been consolidated and extended as a ritual in all sports.
Last year, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided that he would no longer stand during the playing of the National Anthem, rather he would sit down in protest. In his own words he states:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder”
In mid-September 2017, at a campaign rally in Alabama, President Donald J. Trump spoke in his about what he considers the desecration of the NFL with “disrespecting” the country and the troops by not standing for the National Anthem. In his own words the 45th President of the United States of America said:
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired,’
His divisive comments continued on to twitter. Essentially he has equated taking the knee as an act of rebellion, irreverence and lack of patriotism.
Racism?, Resistance?, & Patriotism?
Essentially the President has reduced the concept of patriotism to singing the National Anthem. As a nation as a world, we need to really to consider what this means and who Mr. Trump really is.
- This is the same person who has spent most of his adult life encouraging hatred, racism and white supremacy.
- The same person who took draft deferments to avoid service in the Vietnam constantly throws Molotov Cocktails of vitriolic hate.
- The same person who spread lies that President Barack Obama was not a US Citizen.
- The same person who brags about his ability to rape women because of his notoriety.
By no means does this person have the standing or moral authority to decide what is or what is not patriotic.
Standing during the national anthem it is a way many people choose to respect the country and its ideals. However, choosing to sit or take a knee during the anthem is a silent protest that is not only showing respect but also calling to attention issues that keep the United States from living up to its higher ideals.
If we wish to show respect for the service of the military we should ensure that veterans from foreign wars are able to access quality medical care and assistance with reintegration into civilian society. If we wish to show patriotism for the country we should actively vote, follow and closely watch the government and protest when the actions of the country do not match the ideals we aspire to be as set out in our founding documents.
Right now consider the current government, the current actions and inaction from Puerto Rico, to immigration bans, desires to remove health care from the marginalized and a Commander in Chief who is an active support of theories of white supremacy in action and deed; perhaps the most patriotic thing we could all do is take a knee and begin working towards a more just and equitable country that not only espouses a dream but lives into its calling.