Sunday, September 24, 2017

On Not Rising for the National Anthem

Apropos #takeaknee and the previous post:

Most of the discussion about whether NFL and other athletes should stay on their feet during the pre-game singing of the Star Spangled Banner miss the point.  Kneeling is a political statement, but so is not kneeling.

The public staging of the national anthem is a political event.  It began in professional baseball during World War I as a demonstration of support for the war effort (before the SSB was even officially the anthem), at a time when propaganda and repression against dissent were fierce.  But you don’t need to know much history to recognize “all rise for the national anthem” for what it is.

The public singing of the anthem is a nationalist ceremony.  Through it, those present confirm their loyalty to the government as a value that supersedes all others.  If we had a different song about democracy and popular sovereignty as supreme values, that might be better, but it would be political too.  Nationalism is simply one particular political value system, and the unthinking acceptance most people give to it doesn’t change that fact.

So athletes who make a show of not embracing the nationalist display are not injecting politics into anything; they are responding to one political statement with another that expresses their own point of view.  If you don’t want to mix sports and politics, eliminate the enforced display of nationalism.

Also, the SSB is a terrible song, with crappy music and lyrics.


Anonymous said...

Also, the SSB is a terrible song, with crappy music and lyrics.

Totally. I propose instead Billy Ocean's When the going gets tough, the tough get going :-)

2slugbaits said...

Bravo. Completely agree. Maybe we could start the games 15 minutes sooner and have one less commercial break if we quit playing the national anthem before every damn sporting event. The games are long enough without all the bad singing. I can remember a day when we didn't regularly play the SSB before sporting events. It seems to me that these public displays of fake patriotism really got rolling during the Reagan years.

Another reason not to play the SSB: Francis Scott Key was a racist S.O.B. His son was even worse. But then again, what else should we expect from all those super patriots in Huntsville, AL cheering the SSB after driving to the Trump rally in their pick-up trucks with the Confederate battle flag license plate? Roll Tide.

Longtooth said...

Nicely said.

I have for nearly the last decade refused to stand for the SSB at sporting or any other events I've attended, but the stares I get and the derogatory remarks, even animosity are ripe. Peer pressure forces nearly everybody to stand and put their hand over their hart in show of nationalism, solidarity with "merican" superiority, etc.

And this starts though in the primary grade classroom in 1st grade standing for the Pledge of Allegiance... which may or may not be appropriate (but they inserted "under god" which changed things for me even as a child --- but I succumbed to expected behavior to avoid any repercussions.

The point is that standing for the SSB is a direct outgrowth of our youth standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every morning . which few even undertand at all.. but they do realize it's a national thing "I pledge allegiance to the United States of America... " means they understand this has something to do with nationhood. The first time I saw somebody visibly NOT recite it was in my high school -- all our foreign national students (we had diplomat's and high level military kids from several nations at our high school) remained seated one day in "homeroom" which was the starting 20 minutes of "class" held in the school's assembly hall. It created an uproar at first among the administration, but after "officialdom from on high--- way above high school administration" made it clear that these foreign nationals could not pledge allegiance to the US without depledging their allegiance to their own country, every body got the message real quick. They especially understood that the "Pledge" was political... something they'd never really given any thought to before then.

Some people even think it's mandatory to stand for "God Bless America".... and believe it or not when a few start to stand the rest of the sheep follow right along.

Heaven forbid one get accused of not being proud of our nation's racism, war mongering, heavy handed and economic warfare approach to foreign diplomacy, etc. "If you don't like it hear, then why don't you live in another country.. and good riddance you .....," followed by a few choice names preceded with certain adjectives.

Denis Drew said...

Countries are not holy anymore — no longer one step below God (still one step below God in importance). Not since black and white television. Now we see countries as land and people. That’s your dog run and this is my dog run; and you’d better stay off my dog run. At least that’s the way television hits a lot of us a lot — and most of us at least some. Get me Marshall McLuhan.

Do you love your kids? Do you think they are holy? Maybe you do think so, but people who love their kids just as much as you do don’t think they are holy. Alternate ways of looking at the same reality; none really right or wrong.

Right now I think my country stinks: disappearance of labor unions. Democracy without labor unions is like a car without gas — it is going nowhere.

The players are not objecting to the new introduction of the national anthem before games — never been done before. They are making a complaint about the gap between our high ideals and our sad reality (permanent human condition). I don’t know how the military even gets into it — except conflated by politicians in order to play with us.

john c. halasz said...

Not gonna defend the lyrics, but the tune, which is a bit difficult with an octave and a half range, is an old British drinking song, and not half bad, (especially if you imagine drunks singing it).

Anonymous said...

It's much worse than you think. The military paid the NFL to make the players come out for the anthem and stand. It's all of 8 years old.