I Stand, Despite

I stand when they play the National Anthem.

I stand even though I don't sing along with it. I don't sing when I stand in church, either. It's not an act of defiance, it's an act of compassion. I only sing in the car, alone. And I do that with the windows closed. (I learned that after an incident when I was singing along with Messiah. The text "all we like sheep," enthusiastically bellowed, is vulnerable to misinterpretation.)

I stand during the Pledge of Allegiance, too. I stand during that even though I don't say the words "under God," which constitute a rare instance of actual virtue-signalling and, in my view, a vanity. I stand for it despite its prominent historical role in tyranny against my fellow Americans, which I despise.

I stand for the National Anthem and the Pledge secure in the knowledge that if I do so, very few people will ever question my commitment to the ideals referred to in them, or inquire whether my rhetoric or actions are consistent with them, or suggest that I am standing out of self-interest or calculation, or use it in an opportunity to delve into my relationships or personal history. By contrast, if I don't stand, I know that people will question all of those things (and, sometimes, not unreasonably.)

I stand knowing that if I don't stand people will interpret it as a sign of outrageous disrespect for people who have served America in uniform. I stand even though more people will get more upset, and more news coverage will result, over that disrespect than over the fact that 20 veterans commit suicide every day, or the fact that there's more homeless veterans in America than there are residents of ten of our state capitals, or the fact that veterans routinely die waiting for (inadequate) medical care because we've thanked them, clapped them on the back, and consigned them one of our most entrenched and incompetent bureaucracies that is exceptional at protecting its own (except for whistleblowers) however freakishly bad at their jobs they are but pretty bad at protecting veterans, or the fact that we'll drone-strike anyone who shoots at them in Fallujah but if they encounter police in America they're pretty much fucked, or the fact that every mainstream politician for two generations has promised to make it better without accomplishing jack shit. I stand even though this disparity in outrage and coverage is indescribably grotesque.

I stand even though the discourse about standing or not standing is rife with culture-bundling, with standers sneeringly dismissed as uneducated rubes and sheep and sitters angrily dismissed as effete thug-sympathizing communists.

I stand knowing that my standing doesn't mean the same thing to me that other people standing means to them, and that's okay. I stand despite being conflicted with and uncomfortable about uniform unison rote displays of nationalism. I stand despite my suspicion that standing is sometimes part of the commodification and monetization of patriotism.

I stand loving America, aware that I often fall short of what that love should mean. When I say I love America I mean I love certain shared values and founding ideals like the rule of law and equality before it, liberty, and self-determination, and what people have done to achieve them. I love the values as lofty as the right to speak and worship and as humble as the right to raise a family and work and live as I see fit. I love it knowing that these ideals are more aspirational than descriptive, more a to-do list than a resume. They are what Lincoln called "unfinished work" and "the great task remaining before us." I try to love it the way some grievously wronged veterans I saw being naturalized one transformative day a quarter-century ago loved it — for what it can be with shared effort, not always for what it is or has been. If America is Americans being deprived of their property and herded into camps and reviled for their ethnicity, it is equally those same Americans fighting for their country and its values with extraordinary valor and dedication.

I stand because when I stand I'm ten again at a ball game with my parents, or twelve again, fat with burgers and ice cream cake, watching fireworks in the dusk on the Fourth of July, or a young man again proudly being sworn in to my first job representing the United States. I stand knowing that other people's experiences aren't the same.

I stand even though the reaction to people who don't stand is one of the best arguments for not standing in the first place.

I stand, but I support the people who don't. In fact, when I stand, I mean to show that I support them.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. C. S. P. Schofield says

    The worlds "Under God" should be excised from the Pledge of Allegiance on the simple grounds that the original author did not include them. If you are going to use a ma's work, you should freaking QUOTE IT CORRECTLY. OTOH, atheists who sue over the words "Under God" should be bluntly told "You are suing over an expression of other peoples' belief, in order to enforce yours. Kindly pound sand."

    The oaf quarterback for San Fran has an absolute right to sit out the National Anthem. And the team has an absolute right to tell him "You are an employee. Stand for the Anthem, or pack."

    And all the people having hysterics about his standing or not standing have an absolute right to their opinions and the expression of same (provided that they pay for the podium or the printing, so to say). And the rest of us have a right to pay them the attention they deserve.

    Which is none.

  2. Hillsborough Non-hipster says

    I went to a military school – one of my greatest joys was being chosen for the color team which hoisted the flag at the beginning and end of every school day. The three of us would walk out to the flagpole in all weather and snap the flag on the lanyards. As a scratchy bugle recording of "Call to attention – colors – carry on" sounded over the intercom we'd raise the standard. I remember the day I chose my friend Bruce to be on the team. His parents drove to the school that day to watch him raise the flag – the first black kid to do so. This was 1959. His mother beamed, his father the master sergeant stood at rigid attention and saluted. I was thinking of that day when my son turned 18 and I told him the same thing my father had told me on that occasion: "You are a free man in America. If there is anything better on this planet, I don't know what it is." And, for the record, I have no problem with anyone sitting during the anthem or even burning the flag. It's a free country.

  3. Docrailgun says

    Slightly on-topic:
    Why do we force children to swear an oath (the Pledge of Allegiance) every day at school but we don't allow them to make theit own contracts?

  4. says

    Why do we force children to swear an oath (the Pledge of Allegiance) every day at school

    We don't (unless we are breaking the law). It's been illegal to force them since the SCOTUS decision linked in the post.

  5. Boblipton says

    One should always sing along with the Messiah, especially for "Oh, we like sheep". It reassures the sheepdogs.

    Bob

  6. robbbbbb says

    I appreciate the sentiment contained herein. It's thoughtful, and well-reasoned. I especially appreciate the delineation between the aspirational and reality.

    A certain non-stander could benefit from this level of thought and reason. His prior track record doesn't indicate that he shows any sort of introspection on these subjects. Instead, it seems like a poorly-thought-out publicity stunt.

    If you're going to try and make a statement, then you need to build up to it. Make some thoughtful reflections. Spend some time engaging with the subject. Do work on it outside of your profession, and build some credibility. Get people to understand what you stand for before you try a juvenile protest.

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a terrific role model for this. I don't necessarily agree with everything he proposes, but his seriousness and willingness to study demand attention. There are other guys in modern sports who take some time to be thoughtful, too, and I appreciate that.

    It's the guys who spend their time off the field as overgrown children, and then want to, "Make a statement," that I object to. And the focus of everyone's attention this week is one of those guys.

  7. Olsjoh says

    What is the accepted protocol if a citizen of a foreign power (such as myself) is present when it is to be read?
    Maybe stand up, but not say the words?
    It feels like too much of a statement to just sit down, but on the other hand it feels like it would somewhat cheapen the meaning of the pledge if just any dirty european can do it just in order to blend in with the crowd.

  8. AH says

    robbbbbb: I don't even have a real objection to them. I mean I might disagree with their "statement" (or at least my interpretation of the their statement), but I still have no objection to them making it. Their protest stands or fails on it merits and the merits of the counter-view.

    If you don't like their perspective, offer the counter. That's what free expression is all about.

  9. Xavier says

    Um…. "monetization" of patriotism? Some of y'all gettin' *paid* for showin' respect to tye flag? How do I get on that gravy train?

  10. Ken in NH says

    Olsjoh,

    I would not expect you to stand or, if standing, to recite the words. It does not cheapen the meaning if you recite the words because either you believe it and wish to become a citizen or you don't and you're lying. In either case, that doesn't effect me or whether my words are sincere or not.

    It is respectful to stand for each national anthem though. That is not a matter of giving your allegiance to another nation, but being respectful of their tradition.

  11. Viliphied says

    Um…. "monetization" of patriotism? Some of y'all gettin' *paid* for showin' respect to tye flag? How do I get on that gravy train?

    Start a multi-billion dollar revenue sports league? The US Govt (through the armed forces) pays the NFL to have servicemen and women appear at games, and to have those giant flags on the field.

  12. Brian Z says

    So ruthlessly fire him. Easy peasy. If any other athletes copycat, fire them too. We demand it.

    Then when we're absolutely sure that everyone is in complete conformance with our little ritual, we'll super appreciate the whole "land of the free" bit.

  13. Miles Archer says

    Olsjoh,

    I suggest doing as I do as a non-christian when I happen to be in a christian church. Stand when every else stands, sit when the congregation sits. I'm not kneeling. I might sing if it's a good hymn, mostly because there is some awesome christian music (JS Bach).

    Back on topic. I'm completely with Ken, though I do sing the national anthem at ball games because I like to sing.

    One thing that I find appalling is that there are still people who dust of the "America, love it or leave it" trope in this day and age. That was old and decrepit when I first heard it in the 1970s.

  14. PonyAdvocate says

    I agree: It surely is easier to stand, and go along with a crowd of unthinking strangers, and to keep any reservations one may have about the exercise to oneself. Such action does not strike me as an act of moral courage, however. Nor does it strike me as a conspicuous show of support for those who don't stand.

  15. says

    @C.S.P.:

    You do understand that this:

    "[They] are suing over an expression of other peoples' belief, in order to enforce yours. Kindly pound sand",

    Is incomprehensibly untrue, right? I've never ever heard of an atheist suing so that the language will be "On nation, there is no god, etc. etc.". If they did, then you'd be right; as it stands, you are not.

  16. Total says

    A certain non-stander could benefit from this level of thought and reason.

    Do you know he hasn't? Have you researched Colin K's previous comments?

    His prior track record doesn't indicate that he shows any sort of introspection on these subjects. Instead, it seems like a poorly-thought-out publicity stunt.

    Really? What are his charitable efforts? Where does he appear in the offseason?

    I'm pretty sure you can't answer the questions without googling, and are just stereotyping because that would fit Your Narrative.

  17. says

    I stand because the flag stands for an ideal. We suck at attaining it, but the flag is the symbol of that which we should all strive for…
    The start of which is freedom and equality.

  18. Marc says

    Thank you for this thoughtful post.

    I hope we can all maintain some kind of aspirational unity and respect for individuality through and beyond this rather depressing election cycle.

  19. says

    I stand for pretty much the same reasons Kirk mentioned. Also, it would feel kind of weird to protest a system from which I've benefited so heavily. Having said that, I still respect the right of free expression and don't think less of anyone who doesn't stand. I don't see any incongruity between standing for those ideals and the actuality that we as a country have a long fucking way to go before we are worthy of those lofty words.

    But it does seem a little hypocritical to see these kinds of protests from millionaires, knowing that once the whistle blows ending the game, he will go right back to the comfort of his mansion, cars, and rich man's medical coverage. Again, I respect his right of free expression even if it seems like he doesn't have much skin in the game.

    I have two gay and two transgender siblings, and they protest inequities in the system … by protesting. They gather, they march, they vote. They put themselves in physical danger just by walking down the street. They fully engage politicians and community leaders. They are community leaders themselves. To them, a millionaire protesting by putting his ass in a chair while still collecting huge paychecks almost seems like an empty gesture, and I tend to agree.

    Anyway, just my $.02

  20. azteclady says

    Answering those who are appalled that Colin Kaepernick, 'a rich guy,' sits during the national anthem:

    He has a platform and dares use it, in his own way, "despite" his privileged upbringing (because he was raised by white people, I presume?), to call attention to the injustices suffered by those who do not have that platform.

    Really, who does this guy think he is, a free citizen in a country where free speech is enshrined in the constitution or something?

  21. Tarrou says

    There are instances when disrespecting the flag at least makes sense logically. If you oppose the US on some issue, there's a certain logic in disrespecting its symbols. What I don't understand is the current crop of BLM-type protesters doing it. Aren't they calling on the federal government to help them out against their local government? Shouldn't they be prominently displaying american symbols, and denigrating local ones? Burn the seal of the City of Baltimore or something.

    Of course, one notes that bigots always find a way to blame a problem on the institution or group that they hate. It's what makes them bigots.

  22. Tarrou says

    @azteclady

    Of course he is free to be an asshole. And we're free to call him an asshole. That's what freedom of speech is. No one has called for him to be thrown in jail. No laws are proposed to make this a possibility. People are criticizing him. Which, apparently, upsets you. You are angry about free speech. Who do we think we are? Free people in a free country? How dare we mock and criticize some overpaid commie lunkhead? Don't we know that free speech is only for leftists and muslims?

  23. says

    So, him exercising his right to free speech makes him an asshole, and me saying that he is not an asshole for doing so, makes me against free speech?

    Yes, that makes sense.

  24. Dictatortot says

    I stand for the same reasons that I stand when they play the Canadian national anthem, or that I'd stand when they played a medalist's national anthem at an Olympics–even North freaking Korea's: it seems merely polite, an acknowledgment of that nation's existence rather than an endorsement of its policies and culture. On such occasions, I tend to clasp my hands behind my back, and look noncommittally attentive in the same way I would if enduring an introduction to one of those nation's functionaries. Even if my problems with America were more fundamental than Kaepernick's, I'd try to manage at least that much during the anthem.

    Now: I acknowledge that what I just said is a judgment about manners, not about law or civil rights. Kaepernick's absolutely free to be as rude as he pleases, and ought to be. On the other hand, fans are absolutely free to think the less of him for it (even when their reasons have an illiberal basis), and to say so. His employers are also free to think that his discourtesy reflects poorly on their organization, and to act accordingly. Everyone gets to make of it what he likes. Yay liberty.

  25. Lagaya1 says

    Mark Wing- Are you saying that because he is a millionaire, and his life has not been so difficult, that he has no reason to care for anyone who HAS been abused by the system? Are those your values? I have mine, so too bad for everyone else…

  26. pennywit says

    I sometimes stand. I sometimes sit. I sometimes sing or recite. I sometimes don't. It's not that I have a particular conviction pro or against my country. I just think that at times, it's important to highlight my right NOT to participate in patriotic exercises.

  27. Shtetl G says

    So I just read an interview with Kaepernick:

    http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2016/08/28/colin-kaepernick-anthem-protest-much-much/

    He wants to "raise awareness" and "end police brutality"(me too Colin, me too). The only concrete plans he has to achieve this are to end paid leave to killer cops and have police get more training than a hair dresser. He does have plans to make more plans in the future.

    I applaud Colin for taking a stand by not standing and I hope he can actually accomplish something beyond raising awareness. Asset forfeiture reform, mandatory malpractice insurance for police, and restrictions on police unions are some things that I've heard bandied about that might help. I've also heard Ken talk about changing the legal culture in America. If Colin can get any of these discussions moving forward beyond just raising awareness then kudos to him.

  28. Brandon says

    There's a part of me that likes things like this, because they tend to bring up reasoned debate about issues like what has come up on this site and some others, something that is sorely lacking in too much of the country.

    And then there's a part of me that sees the majority of reaction and just wants to react like this.

  29. Total says

    The only concrete plans he has to achieve this are to end paid leave to killer cops and have police get more training than a hair dresser. He does have plans to make more plans in the future

    Are all protestors required to have a 400 page policy and implementation white paper ready to go before we take them seriously?

    #notsureMLKhadawhitepaper

  30. Shtetl G says

    Are all protestors required to have a 400 page policy and implementation white paper ready to go before we take them seriously?

    Maybe not 400 pages but a little more than 2 vague ideas. Some where in the middle? A lot of people are going to be listening Kaepernick. It would be nice if he educates himself on the matter beyond slogans. It might even help make things even better than just raising awareness. That's just my preference and I will cop that raising awareness is a little bugaboo of mine. Kaepernick is free to do whatever he wants and I really hope that he can make a difference.

  31. Suedeo says

    I figured Ken would have fewer reasons behind his decision; I stand corrected.

    OK, got that out of the way. What a great essay! Worth saving to re-read again later. I wish I could articulate myself nearly as well when explaining my own convictions about such difficult topics.

  32. Encinal says

    C. S. P. Schofield

    If you are going to use a ma's work, you should freaking QUOTE IT CORRECTLY.

    That's a pretty silly idea. Why does one unelected man get to unilaterally decide what the pledge of allegiance is? There are a lot of things wrong with “under God”, but objecting to Congress saying “We like the general idea, but we prefer this other wording” is pretty weak.

    OTOH, atheists who sue over the words "Under God" should be bluntly told "You are suing over an expression of other peoples' belief, in order to enforce yours. Kindly pound sand."

    They are suing over a government expression of belief, that it is prohibited, both by the constitution and basic human decency, from expressing. And they are not asking for their own belief to be enforced.

    And the team has an absolute right to tell him "You are an employee. Stand for the Anthem, or pack."

    Not according to the law, they don't.

    Ken White

    We don't (unless we are breaking the law). It's been illegal to force them since the SCOTUS decision linked in the post.

    Saying “Kids aren't forced to say the pledge; that's illegal” is a little bit like saying “When you hire an escort, you're just paying her to spend time with you. If she decides to have sex with you, that's totally not in exchange for money; that would be illegal”. But only a little bit, because escorts do occasionally get sent to jail, while people who force children to say the pledge do so with impunity.

    And you ignore the main question of the post: if children are competent to swear allegiance to the country, why are they not competent to sign a contract (or, for that matter, have sex)?

    Kirk

    I stand because the flag stands for an ideal. We suck at attaining it, but the flag is the symbol of that which we should all strive for…
    The start of which is freedom and equality.

    Once they put in that “under God” part, the Pledge became a declaration that the flag is a symbol of inequality.

    Mark Wing

    But it does seem a little hypocritical to see these kinds of protests from millionaires,knowing that once the whistle blows ending the game, he will go right back to the comfort of his mansion, cars, and rich man's medical coverage.

    How is that hypocritical?

    Tarrou

    Of course, one notes that bigots always find a way to blame a problem on the institution or group that they hate. It's what makes them bigots.

    Well, clearly you're not interested in an good faith discussion.

    Shtetl G

    Maybe not 400 pages but a little more than 2 vague ideas. Some where in the middle?

    Is not protesting preferable to protesting without a solid plan? If so, how? If not, why aren't you criticizing the people who are standing? If someone said “Hey, let's all stand and give the Nazi salute”, and you said “Nah, I don't think I'll be doing that”, would it be valid to demand that you have something more than two vague ideas about what to do about Neo-Nazism before refusing to endorse it?

  33. Encinal says

    but if they encounter police in America they're pretty much fucked

    A case where someone led police on a chase and refused to surrender is hardly good evidence for that proposition.

  34. Total says

    Maybe not 400 pages but a little more than 2 vague ideas.

    Oh, ye Gods. So how many pages does he need? 27? 124?

    Maybe the point is thinking through things enough to protest?

  35. Andrew Gray says

    In my opinion, one of the best quotes from SCOTUS in the last century is Jackson, J. in *W.VA Board of Ed. v Barnette* (US 1943):

    "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us."

    Sure, NFL isn't the government (so, petty officials all), but the reasoning still applies.

  36. Shtetl G says

    Maybe not 400 pages but a little more than 2 vague ideas.

    Oh, ye Gods. So how many pages does he need? 27? 124?

    Maybe the point is thinking through things enough to protest?

    All right my mind is changed. Awareness raised. I now think cops should have more than 6 months training and cops that kill (bad guys, good guys whatever) should not go on paid leave. Sorry for hoping that a high profile athlete making a high profile protest would shoot for more that just raising awareness. My bad.

  37. Encinal says

    It seems to me that there should be lower standards when someone is not doing something. If he were blocking traffic then, yeah, he should have a well-thought out position. But if she simply doesn't feel comfortable standing, why should he have to justify that?

  38. Cactus says

    After so much complaining that blacks weren't protesting peacefully enough, we've managed to get even angrier at this completely passive protest. In about a week we'll go back to wondering why they think society is against them.

    Special points for calling him a hypocrite as if rich people calling for social change and better treatment of the less fortunate is a never before seen concept.

  39. Total says

    Sorry for hoping that a high profile athlete making a high profile protest would shoot for more that just raising awareness

    See? That wasn't hard.

  40. Marta says

    I was a military brat.

    There is no situation then or now where I could refuse to stand for the Pledge or the Anthem without the certain expectation that my dad would find out and beat the crap out of me for a) disrespecting either and b) embarrassing him.

    The balls of refusing to stand when the pressure to do so is extreme, that I respect and admire.

  41. Czernobog says

    Well, now tat that's settled, I think he can stand to work on his decision making in the pocket a bit more.

  42. Dragoness Eclectic says

    I stand for the national anthem if I feel up to it. There are times l attended events where the anthem was played and I was sick and in pain, so I sat. No one noticed or made an issue of it, and if they had, I would have ripped them a new one, because pain makes me really, really cranky.

    However, publicly refusing to participate in a significant civic ritual can be a profound protest against what that civic ritual represents. Has any read Frederick Douglass's rather vicious rejection of the Fourth of July celebration? As a slave, celebrating "freedom" was utterly meaningless; he didn't have any to celebrate. Other people were celebrating a nation that was half-enslaved as "free"–massive hypocrisy. His angry rejection of the Fourth of July as a celebration was a shocking, profound, and righteous protest.

  43. DRJlaw says

    Sorry for hoping that a high profile athlete making a high profile protest would shoot for more that just raising awareness. My bad.

    It's oh so easy to hope that others will shoot for more. It seems to be an especially common hope amongst those who don't shoot at all.

  44. Total says

    Well, now tat that's settled, I think he can stand to work on his decision making in the pocket a bit more

    Pretty much a hopeless cause.

  45. rsteinemtz70112 says

    A black acquaintance of mine suggests that Colin Kaepernick is simply trying to get cut or traded because he has no future with the team.

  46. drij von drij says

    If Colin can get any of these discussions moving forward beyond just raising awareness then kudos to him.

    TBF, after having 50% of the white people in this country on his ass for a week (with no end in sight), I'd be surprised if he was willing to try to go further and risk a worse reaction next time.

  47. Maurice de Sully says

    Given Mr. Kaeprenick's career trajectory, the only relevant inquiry pertaining to this matter is whether or not he is willing to stand for the Canadian National Anthem.

  48. IForgotMyName says

    Schofield:

    atheists who sue over the words "Under God" should be bluntly told "You are suing over an expression of other peoples' belief, in order to enforce yours. Kindly pound sand."

    Except they're not suing over an expression of other people's beliefs. They're suing over government compelled speech, which is exactly what it is when a school or other government entity compels you to parrot an assertion of faith–albeit one that's thrown in there almost as a parenthetical aside. If you don't understand the legal and Constitutional difference between fellow citizens–completely free of government support or coercion–expressing their beliefs in your presence and the government authority compelling you to express those beliefs, then you should avail yourself of the many friendly and knowledgeable legal minds here and learn a little more about this topic you seem so passionate about.

    Alternately, kindly pound sand.

  49. DRJlaw says

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has stated that "In truth, both men [Colin Kaepernick and a U.S. Army lieutenant who competed at Rio 2016], in their own ways, behaved in a highly patriotic manner that should make all Americans proud." (https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/08/30/insulting-colin-kaepernick-says-more-about-our-patriotism-than-his/?utm_term=.5d28f23b4ec0)

    Let the criticism of Kareem's career trajectory and writing concerning the topic (https://www.amazon.com/Writings-Wall-Searching-Equality-Beyond/dp/1618931717) begin. I'm sure that he's somehow disqualified from using his notariety as a platform to publicly express his opinion as well.

  50. David Lee says

    Right wingers again prove they do not understand the freedoms they claim to love. They want America to be a far right military dictatorship full of conformity and oppression of everyone they hate.

  51. Danny says

    Right — it's actually *22* veterans a day, according to both the articles you linked.

    Helps to read the whole article.

    So Smolenski and a team, in a study released this year, dug deeper. They found that vets who had served during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars commit suicide at a rate of about one a day — not 22.

    If that rate were to hold true across the country, about 530 young veterans are committing suicide each year — roughly 1.5 each day.

  52. Cactus says

    Or how about both you numpties read the actual report at:
    https://www.va.gov/opa/docs/Suicide-Data-Report-2012-final.pdf
    Specifically page 18 for some nice graphs

    What the article is sloppily arguing is that only a minority of these deaths are from Iraq and Afghanistan, which seems more about being pedantic than anything.

    The 20 a day is indeed accurate for including ALL veterans, including Vietnam and Korea. I don't see why which war they fought in should matter, but I don't know what conversation the article was about.

  53. Total says

    So Smolenski and a team, in a study released this year, dug deeper. They found that vets who had served during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars commit suicide at a rate of about one a day — not 22.

    I bolded the critical part for you because apparently you are unable to comprehend what you read. The statement "22 veterans commit suicide a day" is absolutely accurate. If you would like to limit the statement to only the last two wars, then, yes, the number changes. Unless you don't consider people who fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War I to be veterans?

    both you numpties read the actual report

    Why are you including me in this? I got it right.

  54. bw1 says

    @Encinal "Not according to the law, they don't."

    What law is that? He's an employee of a private corporation, not a public school student. Furthermore, it's a private corporation which is reselling his entertainment services, to customers for whom his standing may have a strong bearing on their judgment of the value of said services. If an actress can be fired for becoming fat, then why can't he be fired for acting offensively in the eyes of their audience/customers?

  55. says

    I am a bit confoundified by anyone thinking he needed a deeper list of demands because of the scale of his protest. Not standing up is about the slightest possible thing that could be considered a protest. He didn't disrupt anything, burn anything, hold a sign. He didn't even lie down, which could be seen as an attempt to block others. On the protestmeter, not taking active steps to show respect is, at best, tied with "thinking impolite thoughts".

    And those calling for the restoration of the original Pledge of Allegiance should be aware that doing so would not only eliminate the phrase "under G-d", but also "of the United States of America".

  56. Encinal says

    Cactus

    That and I still can't do user quotes properly

    I'm not sure what you mean by "user quotes", but if you select a block of text, then press the "quote" button above the comment box while the block is highlighted, it's put in a quote block.

    bw1

    What law is that?

    I'm not going to look up all the statutes, but it's illegal to discriminate against someone based on their political affiliation, at least in California. He could also make a case that it's racially and religiously discriminatory.

    Furthermore, it's a private corporation which is reselling his entertainment services, to customers for whom his standing may have a strong bearing on their judgment of the value of said services.

    There's significant case law saying that customer preference is not a bona fide employment qualification: http://readingroom.law.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1055&context=lib_student

    If an actress can be fired for becoming fat, then why can't he be fired for acting offensively in the eyes of their audience/customers?

    Do you have particular cases in mind?

    Nat Gertler

    Not standing up is about the slightest possible thing that could be considered a protest.

    It's even a bit bizarre that it's considered a protest at all. How arrogant do you have to be to request that someone do something, then consider it a "protest" when they decline? If I go out to a restaurant and ask everyone present to join me in prayer, would it be legitimate to refer to anyone who refuses as "protesting" against Christianity?

  57. Maurice de Sully says

    Let the criticism of Kareem's career trajectory and writing concerning the topic begin. I'm sure that he's somehow disqualified from using his notariety as a platform to publicly express his opinion as well.

    When Kareem played in the NBA, he frequently spoke out as an individual on many controversial topics. He never- absolutely never- sacrificed the efforts of his team and teammates to bring attention to himself and his personal crusades at the expense of what his team was working towards. When it came time to be a professional and honor the commitments he made to his employers, he was all business, not a sorry attention whore looking to get his name in the news. And this despite the fact Kareem was dealing with actual issues (like the draft) not the nonsense Kaeperdink is pretending to be concerned about (like how to complain about the behavior of government employees without ever actually complaining about the behavior of government employees.)

    To be sure, had Kareem ever behaved as foolishly as our soon to be CFL washout, his college coach would have made him feel like a small boy for his childishness. Shame that Bortles' backup never got such a lesson.

    The bigger shame is that there are dozens of NFL players- like Kareem- working their asses off towards improving their respective communities, and yet this little "look at me" tool will be the dominant topic when the NFL and society come up for the next few months. I much rather people talk about Warrick Dunn, at least he has an excuse for not being a good football player anymore.

  58. Brian Z says

    And those calling for the restoration of the original Pledge of Allegiance should be aware that doing so would not only eliminate the phrase "under G-d", but also "of the United States of America".

    That's interesting, I guess I didn't know that. In my experience when spoken aloud in a group setting, there is a downward inflection to "of the United States of America" which makes it sound like the end of a complete thought. When recited in this manner, that whole Republic thing seems like an afterthought. I've never liked that.

    Functionally, the whole pledge is simply: "I pledge allegiance to the flag and the Republic;" everything else is qualifiers. Of the two, the latter is by far the more important. I mean, screw the flag–it's just a symbol, but the Republic is real. The Republic is what I'm truly pledging my allegiance to, but alas it's buried in the back half.

    If I were king for the day (ironic, no?), this is how we'd say the pledge:

    I pledge my allegiance
    to the Republic
    and its chosen symbol the flag.
    Let us be one nation,
    invisible,
    with liberty and justice for all.

  59. John says

    Maybe not 400 pages but a little more than 2 vague ideas. Some where in the middle?

    I assumed CK was protesting because he didn't feel like the words "the land of the free" were true for him and/or other black lives. That's enough of a position to withhold endorsing the song in my view, even if he's still good with "home of the brave" bit.

  60. DRJlaw says

    @Maurice de Sully

    When Kareem played in the NBA, he frequently spoke out as an individual on many controversial topics. He never- absolutely never- sacrificed the efforts of his team and teammates to bring attention to himself and his personal crusades at the expense of what his team was working towards.

    Wow. Way to completely recast what Kareem actually wrote by replacing it with your own rose-tinted view of what Kareem did.

    How did Kaepernick "sacrifice" the efforts of his team and teammates again? How did Kareem's "speaking out" avoid the sacrifice that sitting silently did not? How does Kaepernick's decision to "speak out" after the game as to why make this completely different than Kareem's decisoin to "speak out" when he was playing?

    If that's the best that you can do, you need to simply stop… He approves. Deal with it.

  61. Total says

    When Kareem played in the NBA, he frequently spoke out as an individual on many controversial topics. He never- absolutely never- sacrificed the efforts of his team and teammates to bring attention to himself and his personal crusades at the expense of what his team was working towards

    I couldn't stop chuckling when I read this. When Kareem spoke out at the time, he was roundly criticized for sacrificing exactly that. When he changed his name from Lew Alcindor to KAJ, he was criticized for exactly that.

  62. bw1 says

    @Encinal

    I'm not going to look up all the statutes, but it's illegal to discriminate against someone based on their political affiliation, at least in California. He could also make a case that it's racially and religiously discriminatory.

    He wouldn't be fired for his political affiliation or his religion. He'd be fired for refusing to take his part in the pageant of the game, namely standing during the anthem. If an actor is hired to play the part of Herman Goering, it's a safe bet that he's going to have to give a nazi salute at some point. If he refuses to do so, he'll be replaced, and that's not discrimination against anti-fascists or Jews. NFL players are entertainers just like actors, tasked with putting on a spectacle for an audience. If the team management decides that standing during certain parts of the opening ceremonies is a part of that spectacle which the audience expects, they can require him to do it. They don't care WHY he refuses.

    There's significant case law saying that customer preference is not a bona fide employment qualification

    Which is irrelevant, because I didn't speak of customer preference for players of a given faith or political creed. It's about the actions expected. You might as well claim that firing strippers for refusing to take their clothes off in front of customers is religious discrimination against adherants of the multitude of religions which find that sinful.

  63. Brian Z says

    @Tim!

    Not sure if it's a typo
    or an opposite City Upon A Hill metaphor…

    [Insert Fry meme here]

    It's definitely the former. :-)

  64. Total says

    Oh, and Danny? Tick tock — you made an embarrassing mistake. Be a mensch and stand up and admit it.

  65. Encinal says

    bw1

    He wouldn't be fired for his political affiliation or his religion.

    Of course he would be. He's taking a political stance.

    He'd be fired for refusing to take his part in the pageant of the game

    .. because of his political leanings. What about this are you not getting?

    If an actor is hired to play the part of Herman Goering, it's a safe bet that he's going to have to give a nazi salute at some point.

    1. He wasn't hired to stand during the anthem. He was hired to play football.
    2. If an actor is hired to play the part of Herman Goering, there won't be a a general perception that when he gives the Nazi salute, he is expressing support for Nazism. Here, CK isn't being asked to play another character, he is being asked to engage in speech on his own behalf, and he is refusing because of his political leanings. You are really putting the idea that you are acting in good faith in serious doubt here. An actor being asked to recite lines that are clearly not his own personal views is nothing like someone being asked to endorse a view.

    If the team management decides that standing during certain parts of the opening ceremonies is a part of that spectacle which the audience expects, they can require him to do it.

    And if a court decides that it's not a central part of the spectacle, then CK can be awarded several million dollars. This is hardly something without precedent. Did you bother reading the link I provided? There was also a case where the PGA tried to insist that walking from one hole to another was a central part of golf, and someone argued that not letting him use a golf cart instead was a violation of the ADA, and guess what? The courts didn't say "Oh, well, sports league can declare whatever they want to be a central part of their sport", and found in favor of the guy who had trouble walking several miles in a day.

    Which is irrelevant, because I didn't speak of customer preference for players of a given faith or political creed.

    You did speak of customer preference. You're being dishonest.

    You might as well claim that firing strippers for refusing to take their clothes off in front of customers is religious discrimination against adherants of the multitude of religions which find that sinful.

    Of course it is. You'd have to be completely ignorant of what "discrimination" means to disagree. The only question is whether it is legal discrimination. If you had actually read the link I posted, you would have seen that "customer preference may be taken into account only when it is based on the company's inability to perform the
    primary function or service it offers". The primary service that strip clubs offer is stripping, so someone refusing to strip would lack BFOQ. Standing during the anthem is not the primary service provided by the NFL.

  66. Sami says

    I respect everything you say here, but you also just somehow let me place why I'm always uncomfortable with the way Americans tend to express love of America.

    It's always so abstract. Loving America because of a set of ideals sort of seems to imply that you think they're unique to America, that anyone who doesn't view those same ideals the way you doesn't love America or isn't really American, and misses the first and fundamental reason why people love their countries everywhere else. (Also the reason why most countries' politics don't tend to discuss the question of whether given individuals "love" the country.)

    Why don't Americans ever just love America because it's home?

    It's like saying you love your kids because they're well-behaved and high academic achievers with a lot of potential to succeed.

    Why do you give those reasons, and why do you need to give reasons at all?

    (I'm not sure I've ever heard an Australian politician say they love Australia. I'm pretty sure that Australians, collectively, would find one who did so repeatedly a) suspicious and b) weird. Much like how we are okay with our politicians being religious, but not if they talk about it all the time, because THAT IS WEIRD.)

  67. encinal says

    Why don't Americans ever just love America because it's home?

    Because patriotism without the veneer of ideology is too transparently jingoism.

  68. Cheryl Dieter says

    If I was a person of color during these times I would be standing for the sake of my family and my own life. And I will be telling my minority children to stand whether I think they should or not. As a Caucasion I could probably get away with not standing but as a person of color you are probably risking your life. Sad times, these.

  69. Sami says

    Encinal: "Because patriotism without the veneer of ideology is too transparently jingoism."

    Because it's not jingoistic at all to claim your country has ownership of a set of ideals that generally predate it, now?

    I would argue, actually, that it's quite the reverse. If you love your country because it's your home, then you don't *have* to be jingoistic. You don't have to set out to insist that other countries aren't as good as yours, because that isn't the point – those countries just aren't home.

    It's sort of like mothers. Every mother is different. No mother is perfect. But I love my mother, because she's my mother, and if you tried to insist that your mother was just objectively better than mine, depending on how you approached the subject, I would either laugh at you or be strongly tempted to punch you in the face.

    I love my mother more than I could ever, under any circumstances, love someone else's mother. Because she's my mother.

    In the same way, I love my country more than I could love any other country, because this is home. And I think Americans mostly love America because they're American, and the majority don't really care about the ideals they claim to love so much, or else the United States of America would not now be a federation of a large number of small but vicious police states.

    If America was really about those ideals, civil forfeiture and the TSA would not exist, and local police would not now be paramilitary organisations.

  70. mattigan says

    Thanks for stating my feelings on the matter.

    I work for a public school. Often I don't stand for or say the pledge of allegiance. I've often wondered if it could cost me my job.

  71. Jerry Leichter says

    This was a very nice article, but in this case, two of the embedded links are in fact even better. One is to Ken's own article , a beautiful description of a profound experience he'd had years earlier.

    The other is to a pivotal Supreme Court case. Read it. Read it for an explanation of why, under our Constitution, children cannot be forced to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance. Read it to understand why that's true even without considering the depth or meaning of the religious beliefs that lead them to refuse to stand. Read because it actually represents a watershed moment: The same Court, with many of the same members, had decided a similar case in keeping with a long series of other similar cases the other way around, just a few years earlier. Read the concurrences from Justices who explain why they changed sides and overruled themselves. And also read Justice Frankfurter's dissent, a reasoned and impassioned plea for a theory of judicial restraint that, for various reasons, we've found is no longer appropriate for our modern world.

    — Jerry

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