of the Free
August 29, 2016 6:07 AM   Subscribe

 


If you aren't willing to stand up for the freedom to not speak, you aren't a patriot.
posted by Zalzidrax at 6:21 AM on August 29, 2016 [34 favorites]


As is often the case for me, political debate brings Aaron Sorkin's words into my brain. In this case, from The American President:

"You want to claim this land as the land of the free, then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms."

Part of the very freedom that's sung about in the song is Kaep's right to ignore the song.
posted by moviehawk at 6:22 AM on August 29, 2016 [68 favorites]


This is the best hot take:

Odd seeing people upset with Kaepernick when a governor can call people of color "the enemy" in complete comfort
posted by leotrotsky at 6:24 AM on August 29, 2016 [84 favorites]


I've never understood the mindset that gets wildly offended by people performing patriotism "wrong." It's just another policing of behavior, sure, but the cognitive dissonance that underlies it is unusually jarring.

"Why do I need to make this same affirmation again?"
"Because this country is the greatest, and you need to show some respect!"
"Well, what's so great about it?"
"We have FREEDOM. You're FREE to do whatever you want."
"Like not publicly perform this stupid ritual week in and week out?"

(Exit pursued by a bear)
posted by Mayor West at 6:24 AM on August 29, 2016 [136 favorites]


That's pretty good. I have to say, I have been really impressed by the way that some famous people have been standing up for Black Lives Matter and civil rights issues lately. It's really something when people with a lot of fame and, at least potentially, a lot of money are willing to put those things on the line. It's also exciting that the field of acceptable famous-person discourse has shifted so that those things are more possible - obviously people face a lot of backlash today, but some of the recent comments and actions by Black celebrities would have been just completely inconceivable when I was growing up, and it's good that people don't have to keep their mouths shut.
posted by Frowner at 6:25 AM on August 29, 2016 [23 favorites]


I've often thought that it's got to be incredibly corrosive to be mainstream famous and have to keep silent when you see injustice being done to your gender/race/people of your sexuality/etc.
posted by Frowner at 6:26 AM on August 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


I think the 3rd verse of the anthem is perfectly representative of the country -- 25% racist, but everyone tries to forget about it.
posted by miyabo at 6:28 AM on August 29, 2016 [64 favorites]


We have to remember, of course, that the people complaining about Kaepernick's actions are also the people who have spent pretty much their entire lives (and, for the political movement behind it, an unbroken chain for the last 240 years) complaining endlessly about every perceived grievance and claiming how America is not merely falling but already fallen.

It's not merely that his actions are themselves a form of patriotism that is truer and more noble than virtually any patriotism practiced by his critics; it's that his critics take the term hypocrisy to such a ridiculous length that we pretty much need a new word for the sheer galling extent of it.
posted by mystyk at 6:32 AM on August 29, 2016 [15 favorites]


I have to say, I bet we're all in agreement here about Kapernick's right to sit during the anthem, so I hope some folks can weigh in with their thoughts on the anthem itself. I have always been a defender of the song as a song (not knowing much about its history or author besides that he is the only mildly famous person to attend my alma mater). Besides loving its weird melody I always thought it stood for resistance and bravery in the face of overwhelming violence, a triumph of survival rather than brute force--a sentiment equally applicable to civil disobedience, the New Deal, and WW2. But now, barf.

Is the 3rd verse clearly racist--is there any room for other interpretations? Are we better off eliding it, and re-contextualizing the one verse we sing, or tossing out the whole thing and trying to replace it? I'm sad and confused this morning.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:34 AM on August 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


I’ve never really understood the purpose of a national anthem. Isn’t it just something to put on after a win during the olympics and maybe the odd state dinner? Wouldn’t it be more fun and more representative to just play whatever the Billboard #1 is at the moment?
posted by Garm at 6:40 AM on August 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


The problem with having historical artifacts represent a contemporary entity is that in almost every case that history is tarred with something regrettable or downright horrific.
posted by dazed_one at 6:43 AM on August 29, 2016 [29 favorites]


I've never understood the mindset that gets wildly offended by people performing patriotism "wrong."

How dare you! Thankfully there's a whole Futurama episode to explain it.
posted by sneebler at 6:44 AM on August 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


I’ve never really understood the purpose of a national anthem. Isn’t it just something to put on after a win during the olympics

Speaking of the Olympics, pair this story with the recent “controversy” surrounding Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas when she did not place her hand over her heart during the National Anthem.
“During the medal ceremony for her gold-winning USA gymnastics team on Tuesday at the Rio Olympic Arena, Douglas failed to show what many considered appropriate reverence. [...] It wasn’t long before an angry Twitterverse kicked into gear: Some accused her of being unpatriotic. One said she had no excuse not to honor the flag of the country that gave her the opportunity to compete. Others applauded her for what they perceived as a protest. One person commended her for what he believed was a statement on the two-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. The debate mounted until Douglas responded Wednesday on Twitter. She did not claim any protest. She did not explain her slumping. She simply apologized.”
posted by Fizz at 6:46 AM on August 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


I think the chances of changing it are pretty low. But I also think it is very important to maintain its context -- when we sing it, we can remember how our country started. We can consider the consequences of founding our country on the lives of millions of black slaves. We can think about the erasure of those lives and voices that has happened in the past and is happening now. We can refuse to blindly accept the cleaned-up version of history that is fed to us, and we can remember that this song has verses that some people would rather ignore.

Only by facing the truth of our history can we see the present clearly for what it is and do the work necessary to ensure that the future is better for every person here.

Patriotism is not just about loving the country you have; it should be about committing to make that country better. Sometimes that means not standing up for the anthem, cause maybe we should be thinking a bit harder about what that anthem stands for and not just going through some meaningless "U-S-A!" cheerfest. If I was certain that every person next to me was also considering the full weight of our country's bloody past and finding something to commit themselves to in order to make it right, then I'd be pretty proud to stand up and take part in that exercise.
posted by cubby at 6:46 AM on August 29, 2016 [16 favorites]


I appreciate this post; I had no idea about the later verse. The damnedest thing is, nobody likes this song -- it's hard to remember the words because the melody doesn't hang together, and for vocalists it's a nightmare. I sang it at an assembly in fifth grade and I still remember the terror I felt when everyone stood, and I realized what I had gotten myself into.

Yet we're stuck with it for a generation. Can you imagine what would happen if, under a Democratic administration (and no one under Republicans would raise the question) somebody tried to take away the National Anthem? They might as well try to replace apple pie with carob-chip Tofutti. Anyone who voted for it would lose their seats. And all over this 18th-century cod-classical nonsense tune.

I don't agree with Kaepernick's gesture, but I admired his courage. Mostly I didn't feel anything about it, because I've realized that as a white person I better not be in the business of policing black expression about the American experience. I sure as hell see my Facebook feed upset about it though.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:47 AM on August 29, 2016 [15 favorites]


The problem with having historical artifacts represent a contemporary entity is that in almost every case that history is tarred with something regrettable or downright horrific.

I disagree. All else being equal there are songs from our history that fully represent our values at their best.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:52 AM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


The go-to response I've been seeing across social media from anti-SJ/uber-jingoistic types is "Kaepernick has the right not to stand, and *I* have the right to think he's an *asshole* for it!!!" A) No one said you did not have that right, and B) Cool, glad sitting down for the anthem gets you more riled up than racism and police shootings.
posted by windbox at 6:56 AM on August 29, 2016 [30 favorites]


As someone who is creeped out by big ostentatious displays of jingoism or patriotism, my experience as a teacher in Texas made me wish every day, for the full school year I taught, that I had the moral courage to do what he'd done and just not participate in the mindless ritual recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. And in Texas that's followed by a pledge to Texas, because of course it is.

I'm not sure I count as a patriot, or even believe that patriotism is a positive thing. That public displays of patriotism/jingoism/whatever are essentially required for certain professions is deeply disturbing to me.

Potomac Avenue As music I'd say the US national anthem is one of the better ones. There's several pretty good national anthems out there, and a remarkable number of truly awful ones from either a lyrical or musical standpoint. Most are kind of middle of the road, a bit plodding in the lyrical department and all but indistinguishable in their musical component.

I remember way back in the old days, when information was expensive and came on CD-ROM, I had a world map and facts CD that included the anthems and lyrics of every country on Earth, rendered in glorious MIDI, and I was flabbergasted at how many were variants on "glory to the fatherland/motherland or death" with basically the same tune.

Mostly that was the tiny little nowhereville dictatorships, but there's a lot of those. Just checked and I find that the Uruguayan national anthem is still "Uruguayans, the Fatherland or Death!" though apparently the government has improved tremendously since it was adopted and it is no longer a dictatorial hellhole.
posted by sotonohito at 7:01 AM on August 29, 2016 [16 favorites]


Man particularly South American anthems are terrible. Brazil is one of the great fonts of amazing music the world has ever known and this neo-classical Marx Brothers movie tune is supposed to represent them? Sad!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:04 AM on August 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


It's probably worth noting that Kaepernick is on his way to losing the starting job in San Francisco to Blaine Gabbert, a mere three years after Kaep was being heralded as the next generation of mobile quarterback. He's not the highest-profile of player anymore, but this story sure did get a lot of traction awfully quickly, I wonder why the NFL would be encouraging people to talk about this instead of--

Oh, right, the fact that they completely failed to follow any of their own (self-imposed) rules about domestic violence, and have doubled down on their stonewalling because the owner of the team in question is BFFs with the league commissioner.
posted by Mayor West at 7:05 AM on August 29, 2016 [18 favorites]


I remember being required to memorize all four verses in 8th grade literature simply because the teacher felt it was important for us to memorize SOMETHING and for some reason the whole Start Spangled Banner seemed like the perfect thing to him. Apparently it had been like a rite of initiation for his class for decades.

There was never discussion about the meaning of the words, though. At least none that I remember. Certainly none about the implications of the third verse.
posted by charred husk at 7:10 AM on August 29, 2016


I have to confess that I lost my shit on my Sister in Law yesterday at an otherwise pleasant family gathering, because she was all "he makes $19M and he was raised by white parents, he needs to show some RESPECT."

I'm so tired of ignorant people. And I can't bring myself to have rational conversations anymore.
posted by anastasiav at 7:14 AM on August 29, 2016 [43 favorites]


Wow, I didn't know that about the third verse either.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:16 AM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's an apocryphal story about German agents in WW1 or WW2. Their assignment was to appear to be lost Americans coming back from the front lines, and to get behind the lines and start sowing havoc in the logistics train or something. Anyway, the Wehrmacht being what it is they were fantastically well prepared, and could speak flawless colloquial English and knew the starting lineup for the Yankees and so on.

Still, the GIs who "found" the "lost" troops were a little suspicious, like you would be, and started questioning them, and it got around to singing the Star Spangled Banner. Everything was going really well until they started singing the second verse, which of course they had memorized because RUTHLESS TEUTONIC EFFICIENCY, at which point everyone shot them.

posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:24 AM on August 29, 2016 [93 favorites]


I remember a (British) school friend of mine spent some time in the US as a child, and was made to join in with the Pledge of Allegiance, despite not being American. Which seems to capture some of the mindlessness of the whole exercise.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 7:25 AM on August 29, 2016 [29 favorites]


As someone who is creeped out by big ostentatious displays of jingoism or patriotism, my experience as a teacher in Texas made me wish every day, for the full school year I taught, that I had the moral courage to do what he'd done and just not participate in the mindless ritual recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. And in Texas that's followed by a pledge to Texas, because of course it is.

I'm not sure I count as a patriot, or even believe that patriotism is a positive thing. That public displays of patriotism/jingoism/whatever are essentially required for certain professions is deeply disturbing to me.


sotonohito, I grew up in Texas and so I can recall that morning ritual of standing up and holding my hand over my heart all too well. I also recall at some point there was a challenge made about the pledge and it was determined that you had to stand up to show your respect to the flag and the anthem but that you were not obligated to recite the pledge out loud. I do know that most teacher's found the pledge to be more of an annoyance because they mostly wanted the kids to settle down and stop talking and get into learning mode. Those few extra minutes standing up only further allowed the kids to talk while the pledge was being announced over the intercom system.
posted by Fizz at 7:28 AM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is the 3rd verse clearly racist--is there any room for other interpretations? Are we better off eliding it, and re-contextualizing the one verse we sing, or tossing out the whole thing and trying to replace it? I'm sad and confused this morning.

FWIW this article was posted on another message board I cheat on MeFi with read.

The Star Spangled Banner lyrics "the hireling " refers to the British use of Mercenaries (German Hessians) in the American War of Independence
The Star Spangled Banner lyrics "...and slave" is a direct reference to the British practice of Impressment (kidnapping American seamen and forcing them into service on British man-of war ships). This was a Important cause of the War of 1812

posted by bowmaniac at 7:35 AM on August 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


Wow, I didn't know that about the third verse either.

I only knew about it because at some point in basic training my platoon was made to stand outside in February in Kentucky and memorize the whole thing while the drill sergeants lounged around their table in the chow hall. I don't know how long it took us. I do know some people were crying by the time the whole thing was over because once we memorized it and our platoon guide went back to tell the drill sergeants we were ready to perform it, one of them said "I doubt it, so keep practicing."

We were out there quite a bit longer before one of them walked out, yelled at our platoon guide for timidity (he refused to go back in to tell them we really, really had it down, which prompted more cursing and crying from some of our less stable members), and let us go back in the barracks without performing it for him.
posted by mph at 7:36 AM on August 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


One of things I find most dis-quieting about the reaction to this is that sports media somehow is painting it as "an attack on the troops." Seriously, ESPN?
posted by drezdn at 7:36 AM on August 29, 2016 [22 favorites]


The damnedest thing is, nobody likes this song

Despite preferring "My Country 'Tis of Thee," or "This Land Is Your Land" or "Don't Stop Belivin'" to "The Star-spangled Banner," in the national anthem stakes, I like the song. It's no "Marseillaise," but, then, what is?

I remember being required to memorize all four verses in 8th grade literature simply because the teacher felt it was important for us to memorize SOMETHING

Throughout elementary school, we recited the Pledge and sang the first two verses "The Star-spangled Banner" every day. To this day I can sing both of them and the Preamble to the Constitution (because of Schoolhouse Rock).
posted by octobersurprise at 7:40 AM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


One of things I find most dis-quieting about the reaction to this is that sports media somehow is painting it as "an attack on the troops." Seriously, ESPN?

The overlap of sports, military, and nationalism has been steadily increasing the last 10+ years, especially with the NCAA and NFL. It's also very much bound up in corporate wealth and sponsorship. Very gross.
posted by Fizz at 7:42 AM on August 29, 2016 [38 favorites]


Mind you, if the Pledge of Allegiance was a real pledge that actually meant something sincere and meaningful, you wouldn’t need to take it so often.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 7:43 AM on August 29, 2016 [17 favorites]


I would bet that most of Kaepernick's harshest critics would describe themselves as devout Christians (God, guns, and guts made America great!) It seems to me that their reverence for the flag, national anthem, pledge of allegiance, etc. borders on idolatry, which I recall as being one of the big no-nos in that particular faith.
posted by TedW at 7:44 AM on August 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


Slight derail: I hope that when the current election cycle is over and Trump has slouched off to the primordial cave from whence he came that the issue of racism (and its nasty cousin, nationalism, wearing the sheep's clothing of patriotism) does not fade from public conversation. For a number of reasons, I was bummed to see Larry Wilmore go--Comedy Central isn't exactly mainstream media, but at least they were talking about some of these things in an open way.
posted by tehjoel at 7:45 AM on August 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


An additional wrinkle is that Kaepernick is alleged to have converted / be converting to Islam. Obviously, this additional empowers a lot a lot more conspiracy theories (or angry sportscaster rants) to come out of this otherwise non-story.
posted by theorique at 7:45 AM on August 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


That a verse very few know about or never sing serves as a reason not to sing the Star Spangled Banner seems to me absurd. After all, few can even sing that atrocious song even the only verse that is song. Further, if the 3rd verse is racist, then what of this: 12 of our presidents owned slaves and eight of them owned slaves while serving as president.
There is no contractual or legal reason why the guy must stand and sing. On the other hand, to be "outraged" is a rather weak response, and, if you truly dislike such actions, Do Not Attend the Games and by boycotting let the owner or owners know that disrespecting the singing of our national ditty is a costly thing to do.
posted by Postroad at 7:46 AM on August 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


drezdn this goes along with what i was going to say to Fizz, there are several teachers who really despise the ritual of the Pledges and (depending on your school district) a moment of silence as a stand in for a school mandated prayer.

But there's also a fair number of teachers who do take it very seriously, and all of them have explicitly tied it to "the troops".

At the school where I was teaching a kid (mostly just to be an ass I think, since he was a jackass and had never expressed any prior political opinions) stopped standing in this one teacher's class and she was genuinely outraged. To the extent that she lectured him about disrespecting "the troops" by failing to stand, and checked with the principal to see if there was any way she could punish him or require him to stand (the answers were "no, and no, and get back to teaching please", my principal was a pretty good person).

But yes, the whole mindless display of jingoism is very much tied to "the troops" in the minds of those who would force it on others. I'm not sure exactly how "the troops" benefit from a kid in nowhere Texas standing up to drone his way through the Pledge of Alliegance, but they argue that it does.

I think mostly it boils down to social conformity and control, with "the troops" being just a convenient club to wack the nonconformists with, since in most of America being supportive (in all ways except paying for their medical care, helping the with PTSD, and offering assistance after the war is over) of "the troops" is regarded as an unquestionable holy duty.
posted by sotonohito at 7:48 AM on August 29, 2016 [21 favorites]


The music, incidentally, was taken wholesale from the Anacreontic Song, the drinking song of a London music society.
posted by Segundus at 7:52 AM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Star Spangled Banner lyrics "the hireling " refers to the British use of Mercenaries (German Hessians) in the American War of Independence
The Star Spangled Banner lyrics "...and slave" is a direct reference to the British practice of Impressment (kidnapping American seamen and forcing them into service on British man-of war ships). This was a Important cause of the War of 1812


Checked this out, seems unlikely. Those seamen were pressed into service of the royal navy to fight the French. The British didn't trust them to fight their home country. So that line doesn't at all make sense as a reference to "Impressed" Americans rather than the slave battalions that FSK had lost a battle to only weeks earlier right?

Even Wikipedia admits that is the most likely reference.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:54 AM on August 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


if the 3rd verse is racist, then what of this: 12 of our presidents owned slaves and eight of them owned slaves while serving as president.

They were also Racist. HTH
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:55 AM on August 29, 2016 [34 favorites]


Colin Kaepernick Is Righter Than You Know: The National Anthem Is a Celebration of Slavery Here is the history behind the racism charges.
In passing, one or two commenters here noted being from or living in Texas. Look into the real reason anglos wanted to get out from under Mexican rule. Mexico had made slavery illegal and the anglos did not want to give up their slaves.
posted by Postroad at 7:58 AM on August 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


if the Pledge of Allegiance was a real pledge that actually meant something sincere and meaningful, you wouldn’t need to take it so often.

By itself, the Pledge is neither sincere nor insincere, it's merely a text. You'd have to question the elementary kids who repeated it on their sincerity. Speaking only for myself, I probably would've have preferred to spend those moments singing the Wonder Woman theme song.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:59 AM on August 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


And, being such a high note, only about 2% of people can sing the word "free" without going into a Jerry Lewis squawky voice. That's symbolic.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:00 AM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


posted by Bloxworth Snout Mind you, if the Pledge of Allegiance was a real pledge that actually meant something sincere and meaningful, you wouldn’t need to take it so often.

As I pointed out in grade school, I didn't need to say the Pledge of Allegiance because, "I already pledged!" You'd be surprised how this quickly that observation could infuriate a bombastic and overwrought grade school teacher who loudly announced I needed to say it because he fought for that flag and the freedom it represents, and I needed to visit the principal and spend lunchtime writing an essay about the fucking Pledge of Allegiance.
posted by mattdidthat at 8:03 AM on August 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


That's symbolic.

"The white cracker who wrote the National Anthem knew what he was doing. He set the word free to a note so high nobody could reach it. That was deliberate."

That Canada has Geddy Lee and we have Roseanne Barr is an abomination.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:04 AM on August 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


posted by octobersurprise That Canada has Geddy Lee and we have Roseanne Barr is an abomination.

Roseanne Barr is a national treasure. The real abominations are the military flybys and singing God Bless America during the seventh-inning stretch, instead of Take Me Out To The Ball Game.
posted by mattdidthat at 8:11 AM on August 29, 2016 [31 favorites]


The real abominations are the military flybys and singing God Bless America during the seventh-inning stretch, instead of Take Me Out To The Ball Game

Oh I think there's room for two abominations, at least, probably more.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:14 AM on August 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Roseanne Barr is a national treasure.

Didn't she become an Alex Jones style crank?
posted by thelonius at 8:17 AM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I used to live very near the Ballpark in Arlington and so we went to quite a few Ranger's games for a few summers. I used to be the person not standing and boy howdy! The looks I got. Only 1 person actually said something and I believe I said something about the Iraq war, or poverty, or something like that (I can't remember the exact reason I wasn't standing at that point, but it was political). It was around 2009/2010 or so.

My husband also did not stand, mostly to show his disdain for the blind reverence for the troops. He had worked at a dollar store near a military base a couple years before and every day at least one family would come in and want things for free because their husband/dad/brother/wife/mom/sister were sacrificing for our country. (And these people deemed it appropriate to go off on him for it, a cashier that has no power to give anyone anything for free. I hate people like that!) I know (and he knows) that not every military family is like that but it only takes a couple of them being total dicks every day to really get under your skin. His not standing during the national anthem was more of a protest against the idea that every single service member is an angel to this country and they can never do wrong and we must support everything they do all the time no matter what.

At this point, I do stand now, but I don't put my hand over my heart, mostly I just put them behind my back. It gets me less dirty looks but I still feel ok in my heart that I'm not honoring some idea of America that never really existed.
posted by LizBoBiz at 8:18 AM on August 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


My takeaway from the Rio Olympics was that almost everyone has a better national anthem than we do. Brazil's was the best.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:20 AM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Postroad: That a verse very few know about or never sing serves as a reason not to sing the Star Spangled Banner seems to me absurd.

What's your opinion on the two first stanzas of the Deutschlandlied? (and please remember that the third one is the current German anthem)

We Spaniards don't have to worry about possibly nasty undertones to our anthem, the Pemán lyrics *are* fascist and since 1981 our anthem has no official lyrics at all.
posted by sukeban at 8:22 AM on August 29, 2016


What really gets me about this is that the intersection of the Venn diagram of people upset at Kaepernick and people who actively fly the Confederate flag is definitely not empty.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:22 AM on August 29, 2016 [26 favorites]


My takeaway from the Rio Olympics was that almost everyone has a better national anthem than we do.

“Oh Canada!”
posted by Fizz at 8:24 AM on August 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


O Canada has eight verses, four French and four English. According to Fr.3, I as a Canadian have a halo of fire that I received from John the Baptist, precursor of the true God.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:25 AM on August 29, 2016 [25 favorites]


mattdidthat You just reminded me of the time back in my own childhood (when, surprise, I was often an asshole), I decided that one child (the daughter of the teacher) had been chosen to hold the flag an unfair number of times and I hadn't been picked yet at all. We'll call her Anna.

So I started off "I pledge allegiance to the Anna, and to the teacher for which she stands" and got that far before the teacher cut off the pledge and yelled at me for disrespecting the flag. After the pledge was finished I had to write "I will not pledge allegiance to Anna" 200 times.
posted by sotonohito at 8:25 AM on August 29, 2016 [32 favorites]


One of things I find most dis-quieting about the reaction to this is that sports media somehow is painting it as "an attack on the troops."

Yes. This is one of the things with which I take the most exception. I mean, I get it that military personnel are indoctrinated with an extreme reverence for these things and certain expected modes of behavior. But the national anthem and flag do not belong to the military, nor do they represent the military . They represent and belong to United States and its peoples. Our military personnel and veterans cannot expect or require the American people to think about or behave around these symbols they way they do, especially considering the fact that these symbols are properly "owned" by people other than themselves. A commentary on these national symbols, whether respectful or not, is not a commentary on our armed forces but rather on American society.
posted by slkinsey at 8:29 AM on August 29, 2016 [24 favorites]


Now that I think about it, we could manage to replace the anthem if we proposed "God Bless the USA" instead. It's awful in the same way McDonald's is: fat, salty-sweet, bloating and comforting. I loved it when I was little.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:32 AM on August 29, 2016


Roseanne Barr is a national treasure.

I endorse more Barr-style crotch-grabs as a means of protest. I even endorse a national tour, whereby Barr grabs her crotch at many locations of national and historical significance.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:32 AM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


everyone knows the real abomination is emil blonsky
posted by entropicamericana at 8:32 AM on August 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


O Canada has eight verses, four French and four English. According to Fr.3, I as a Canadian have a halo of fire that I received from John the Baptist, precursor of the true God.

And our own Canadian anthem is not without its own controversies:
- Black Lives Matter says Tenors' O Canada lyric change an attempt to undermine rallying cry.
- O Canada: parliament votes to make national anthem lyrics gender neutral.
It doesn't seem to matter what country you are from. Raising the ire of hardcore Nationalists because of some perceived offence related to a country's national anthem seems to be universal. Though in the case of the Tenor who changed the lyrics to All Lives Matter, welp, he's an idiot, plain and simple.
posted by Fizz at 8:33 AM on August 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Someone I know was at a baseball game this summer, filming a grandchild on the field playing the national anthem.
She was so engrossed in this that she had forgotten to remove her hat. Someone behind her corrected that by ripping it off her head.
Not sure what I would have done.
posted by MtDewd at 8:33 AM on August 29, 2016


and got that far before the teacher cut off the pledge and yelled at me for disrespecting the flag.

To say nothing of Anna.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:33 AM on August 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


Dear Sukeban
I do not speak German but do recall clearly the Nazi use of the national anthem, which since the war's end, now deletes the first two stanzas (Deutschland Uber Alles) and sings the third stanza only. That, like all other national songs, is for those who are citizens to decide upon and not me.
I do not say one nation under god when I stand to recite the Pledge. Ike, alas, had a vision not shared by some of us:
"The phrase "under God" was added to the pledge by a Congressional act approved on June 14, 1954. At that time, President Eisenhower said:

"in this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource in peace and war."
Ps: many folks disliked our national tune and during the heyday of folk music, a lot of people wanted Guthrie's this Land is My Land to replace The Star Spangled Banner. But then they also had to think about the oft neglected final lines, usually dropped when now sung.
posted by Postroad at 8:37 AM on August 29, 2016


Now that I think about it, we could manage to replace the anthem if we proposed "God Bless the USA" instead.

Please no, it's an awful song. At Washington Nationals games they play it in the seventh inning stretch. First they play "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" and everyone gets up and does a silly dance, they they play "God Bless America" and everybody remains standing like it's the national anthem part 2. I sit down, because it's stupid and manipulative, and I get the serious stink-eye from other people for doing that.
posted by peeedro at 8:42 AM on August 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


I would bet that most of Kaepernick's harshest critics would describe themselves as devout Christians (God, guns, and guts made America great!) It seems to me that their reverence for the flag, national anthem, pledge of allegiance, etc. borders on idolatry, which I recall as being one of the big no-nos in that particular faith.

As a devout Christian who refuses to stand for the anthem or pledge to the flag, I have made this argument several times over the weekend to fellow Christians. All but one pushed past this argument with no rebuttal, moving on to the "It's disrespectful to the troops!" angle.

I did not bring up my Christian pacifism at this point.

The friend who did engage with this reasoning, agreed that my stance was perfectly moral but that Kaepernick obviously was doing this for Black Lives Matter, not God - so not ok.

Ugh.
posted by Lapin at 8:45 AM on August 29, 2016 [14 favorites]


I tried sitting out the pledge in school and got told I had to stand but I didn't have to say it. My objection was primarily the "Under God" part, though also "if it's mandatory, then it's meaningless."
posted by Karmakaze at 8:46 AM on August 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


Ps: many folks disliked our national tune and during the heyday of folk music, a lot of people wanted Guthrie's this Land is My Land to replace The Star Spangled Banner. But then they also had to think about the oft neglected final lines, usually dropped when now sung.

And during the '80s we replaced it with Born in the USA until Springsteen pointed out what the song actually meant.
posted by Talez at 8:48 AM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'll always be amused that municipalities still play Little Pink Houses during 4th of July fireworks.
posted by Talez at 8:48 AM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I somehow accidentally clicked on a Fox News story about this so I doubled down and read the comments. Wow, worse than youtube. Nothing but full on KKK racism.
posted by benzenedream at 8:58 AM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


we could manage to replace the anthem if we proposed "God Bless the USA" instead.

they they play "God Bless America" and everybody remains standing like it's the national anthem

Wait. Those are two different songs. "God Bless America" is a fine song by Irving Berlin, tho too often shmaltz-i-fied in the performance. "God Bless the USA" OTOH is an irredeemable piece of rubbish by Lee Greenwood, the very sound of which makes my ears bleed.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:59 AM on August 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


What's your opinion on the two first stanzas of the Deutschlandlied? (and please remember that the third one is the current German anthem)

That nineteenth century German unification was a big deal?
posted by Navelgazer at 9:01 AM on August 29, 2016


The end of "This Land is Your Land":

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.


Seems to represent America pretty accurately, then and now. Why wouldn't we sing these verses? Or is the anthem supposed to praise the nation as the BEST EVER and only in bombastically positive terms?
posted by witchen at 9:02 AM on August 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


"Hirelings" is almost certainly mercenaries, especially Hessians, and I think a little more study is required to determine what "slave" refers to in that verse. It could indeed be ex-American slaves, but English-speaking people in this time period were always hysterically contrasting their "freedom" to the "slavery" of other countries, especially Eastern ones (which didn't even have any slavery resembling the U.S. constitution), so, again, foreign mercenaries. It could also well be referring to the soldiers and sailors who were impressed into the British armies.

When you work in certain parts of the public sector, a certain degree of performative patriotism is required of you that always leaves me queasy. If patriotism is to be anything more than chauvinism, it should be arising elsewhere than public group loyalty rituals. Emma Goldman had much to say on this.
posted by praemunire at 9:05 AM on August 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


Wouldn’t it be more fun and more representative to just play whatever the Billboard #1 is at the moment?

Some congresscritter in the 70s proposed replacing the current anthem with "Get Together."
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:05 AM on August 29, 2016


The overlap of sports, military, and nationalism has been steadily increasing the last 10+ years, especially with the NCAA and NFL. It's also very much bound up in corporate wealth and sponsorship. Very gross.

Probably because Hollywood reached 100% military saturation in the 80's and 90's and the budget had to go somewhere.
posted by srboisvert at 9:06 AM on August 29, 2016


I still feel ok in my heart that I'm not honoring some idea of America that never really existed.

In my school days, I started out saying the pledge with almost spiritual fervor, not necessarily in deference to what America was or had ever been, but as an expression of personal commitment to the humanist ideals I understood to be the aspirational goals of the nation (which I'd highly romanticized and took very seriously being basically an immigrant kid).

Later in life, after learning more about the real history of the US and the real, more mercantile motivations behind the revolution, I would subversively recite Bart Simpson's "Pledge of Allegiance to the United Snakes of a Merry Cow" in complete dead pan.

Nowadays, knowing about the socialist roots of the pledge, I still have mixed feelings, but don't really sweat it much either way.

It's a personal pledge of symbolic loyalty; it's personal. We should feel free to take it or leave it on any given day, especially so long as there's still so much "perfecting" left to be done to our union.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:08 AM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


It took me years to realize Kaepernick isn't white.

I admire his guts, and I think he has everything he needs to become a great quarterback except, possibly, the right coaching.

It's almost a rule of thumb in America that every institution, every artifact, and all widely celebrated parts of our cultural heritage turn out to be shockingly racist when we take a closer look at them.
posted by jamjam at 9:16 AM on August 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Those seamen were pressed into service of the royal navy to fight the French. The British didn't trust them to fight their home country. So that line doesn't at all make sense as a reference to "Impressed" Americans rather than the slave battalions that FSK had lost a battle to only weeks earlier right?

While the impressment of American citizens was one of the sources of conflict that led to the War of 1812, the British practice was not limited to Americans. Surely you've read an English novel or two referring to the press gangs?

I don't want to over-argue this point, because (a) it could indeed be a reference to American ex-slaves and (b) I'm sure Francis Scott Key was a big old racist regardless, but the linked article is oddly oblivious to context.
posted by praemunire at 9:16 AM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


I would bet that most of Kaepernick's harshest critics would describe themselves as devout Christians (God, guns, and guts made America great!) It seems to me that their reverence for the flag, national anthem, pledge of allegiance, etc. borders on idolatry, which I recall as being one of the big no-nos in that particular faith.

Jehovah's Witnesses don't salute the flag. There may be other denominations who don't, but they're the only ones I'm sure of.

Much is made of the wide vocal range of “To Anacreon in Heaven” (the English drinking song from which “The Star Spangled Banner” takes its tune). I've read a lot of English drinking songs lately, programming music for a production of Twelfth Night, and I noticed a lot of them have similar ranges. My theory is that the tenors in the room would sing while the basses were swallowing (or passed out) and vice versa.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:16 AM on August 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


I was also taught, in three different schools, that putting your hand over your heart, or saluting, or doing anything more then standing during the national anthem was overkill and gauche. So, Olympic tradition or no, it still shocks me the amount of grief people are giving Gabby Douglas. In her position I would have done the same thing.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:22 AM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Dave Barry once wrote that the United States would be a better place if its anthem was "Land Of 1,000 Dances".

The controversy about patriotism reminds me of a scene in Joseph Heller's "Catch-22", where no one was allowed to eat until they had recited the Pledge Of Allegiance a certain number of times.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 9:26 AM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me."

My top five candidates for the US national anthem:

Woody Guthrie — "This Land Is Your Land"
Journey — "Don't Stop Believin'"
America — "Ventura Highway"
C.W. McCall — “There Won't Be No Country Music (There Won't Be No Rock 'n Roll)”
Prince — "America" (we would also accept "Sexy MF")
posted by octobersurprise at 9:29 AM on August 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


Jehovah's Witnesses don't salute the flag.

In my Texas elementary school, I had a JW classmate who was exempted from saying the pledge.

Each morning, the teacher made her stand out in the hallway for the duration of its recital.

She was also the only black student in the entire school.

But yay America or whatever.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:40 AM on August 29, 2016 [17 favorites]


Brazil's is the best.

I beg to differ: it's "O Canada." Unlike that Brazilian monstrosity, it can be arranged for solo guitar and played by someone like me.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:40 AM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I came in to add a hearty screw you to all the public school districts that have a "voluntary" recitation of the pledge, especially those who only added it after 9/11, without any training or discussion for teachers about how to respect and shield students who choose not to say it from the very nasty public shaming that ensues.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:41 AM on August 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


My sister once suggested La Grange, by ZZ Top, as a good replacement for the current national anthem. Not because she really likes the song, but because she liked the idea of everyone standing up, putting their hand over their heart, and aggressively clearing their throat four times before beginning.
posted by sotonohito at 9:41 AM on August 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


"In passing, one or two commenters here noted being from or living in Texas. Look into the real reason anglos wanted to get out from under Mexican rule. Mexico had made slavery illegal and the anglos did not want to give up their slaves."
Just yesterday, my family was at one of the Six Flags theme parks near to us, named after the original "Six Flags over Texas" outside of Dallas. Every time I'm near, I can't help but be reminded of the brutal realities that those six flags actually represented. All six (Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, United States of America, Confederate States of America) were countries that allowed slavery during the time when those flags flew, with the notable exception of the United States's second run.

But, unique to Texas, two of those flags flew there specifically and primarily for the preservation of slavery. It's really astounding to think about it: Texas broke free from other nations in order to keep slavery not once, but twice[*]! Even the other states of the Confederacy have no claim to that record. And, when you honor those six flags with prominence and reverence (as opposed to merely noting them as a point of history, which is appropriate since it's the truth), it truly is something sick.

[*] This fact also paints the Battle of the Alamo in a totally different light.
posted by mystyk at 9:41 AM on August 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


mystyk What's really horrifying is all the official Confederate propaganda and monuments around the government buildings in Austin. Looking at the statuary down there you'd think the Confederacy had won the war.
posted by sotonohito at 9:43 AM on August 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Despite preferring "My Country 'Tis of Thee,"...

That one's already taken as a national anthem though. I would vote for America the Beautiful.
posted by stopgap at 9:46 AM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Looking at the statuary down there you'd think the Confederacy had won the war."
A reasonable argument could be made that they did, if you're willing to accept that Lee's surrender at Appomattox in April 1865 was really just the end to open, armed conflict between armies and the beginning of the cold war and terrorism phase.
posted by mystyk at 9:50 AM on August 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


C.W. McCall — "There Won't Be No Country Music (There Won't Be No Rock 'n Roll)"

OMG, yes. We should definitely choose an anthem that requires awesome extra sound effects, so that we can leave our long national nightmare of terrible a cappella performances behind.
posted by asperity at 9:50 AM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Brazil's is the best.

Best: Marseillaise.
Second best: State Anthem of the USSR. The current Russian anthem uses the same music but with boring normal creepy-nationalistic lyrics.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:53 AM on August 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


As a POC, I stand (or "sit) with Colin.

There is really no reason to expect anyone to stand for this anthem, or for god bless america. Next sporting event that I can afford, i'm not standing. People can give me stink eye all they want. I don't really care.

I have a burning question, why aren't all black athletes doing this? Are they scared that they may lose their precious endorsements? Are they scared that they'll be suspended for doing something so harmless?

It brings me back to the statement Lebron and co made about gun violence at the ESPY's back in July. It was a good statement to make, but it felt so carefully planned by a PR person. It was great that they wanted Justice for police shootings of black people, did they really have to "cover all sides" by blindly supporting the police in it as well?

Sadly because of a potential backlash, all of these athletes will predicatively stay quiet.

That's my .02 on the matter.
posted by 81818181818181818181 at 9:54 AM on August 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


I am shocked and dismayed to find that no alternative anthem suggestions in this thread are rickrolls.
posted by beerperson at 10:05 AM on August 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


"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."

-- Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette
posted by bryon at 10:05 AM on August 29, 2016 [14 favorites]


ROU_Xenophobe: Second best: State Anthem of the USSR

It replaced The Internationale, so I can't really agree.
posted by sukeban at 10:08 AM on August 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


posted by ROU_Xenophobe Best: [La] Marseillaise.

Here's my favorite version.
posted by mattdidthat at 10:11 AM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Singing the National Anthem at sporting events (among others) stems from a decision by the commander at Fort Meade (in SD - not MD) to have the anthem played at events during his command starting in 1892 (there is a plaque).

What Kaepernick does his is own business. I won't be rooting for the 49ers but I have the same prejudices against SF teams than I do against every team from Massachusetts. And unlike all other prejudices, mine are completely rational and sound....
posted by Charles_Swan at 10:11 AM on August 29, 2016


So if you tweet something offensive it's OK, because the other person can just ignore it. If you make a racist comment on a message board that's OK because that's freedom of expression. If you make an outrageous threat online that's OK because it doesn't really mean anything and you shouldn't get worked up about something that doesn't directly hurt anyone.

But if someone sits down quietly, that's a problem?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 10:14 AM on August 29, 2016 [21 favorites]


And during the '80s we replaced it with Born in the USA until Springsteen pointed out what the song actually meant.

How on earth did anyone mistake Born in the USA for a patriotic song? Paying even cursory attention to a couple of lines makes it painfully obvious. "End up like a dog that's been beat too much..."

Was everyone just constantly on cocaine? Was Ronald Reagan *that* hypnotic?
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 10:15 AM on August 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


People, uh, don't pay attention to lyrics.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:19 AM on August 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yup, all they heard was "BORN IN THE USA" repeated a few times and they figured it was jingoism set to a catchy tune.
posted by sotonohito at 10:28 AM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Kaepernick comments on the current election: "You have Hillary who has called black teens or black kids super predators, you have Donald Trump who’s openly racist. We have a presidential candidate who has deleted emails and done things illegally and is a presidential candidate. That doesn’t make sense to me because if that was any other person you’d be in prison. So, what is this country really standing for?"

Clinton has been rightly called to account for the super predator thing and apologized for it. But then he goes on to repeat false Crooked Hillary stuff right out of the Trump playbook. "Lock her up."

I understand the legitimate grievances applied to both Democrats and Republicans, but his own credibility would be better served by making an effort to be more accurate in his criticisms.
posted by JackFlash at 10:45 AM on August 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


After conspicuously not standing up during the National Anthem played at a preseaon NFL game on Friday, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick explained that his actions were a tribute to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Moreover, he went on, the song itself has a racist history.

I didn't see in any of the links Kaepernick relating his protest specifically the the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner rather than explaining that standing for the national anthem would "show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."

In fact the link to The Intercept suggests strongly that he didn't make any reference to the song's lyrics: When he explained why, he only spoke about the present.

And the links in the original post the follow Moreover, he went on are not links to anything he said, but to comments others made about the lyrics to the song.

Am I missing something? Did Kaepernick say something in particular about the racist history of Star Spangled Banner?
posted by layceepee at 10:50 AM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


It was kind of like the musical version of the what we say/what dogs hear cartoon: "blah blah blah blah blah BORN IN THE USA! BORN IN THE USA! blah blah blah"
posted by Lexica at 10:51 AM on August 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


"So, what is this country really standing for?"
The national anthem?
posted by octobersurprise at 10:53 AM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


As a POC, I stand (or "sit) with Colin.

As a white person, so do I. When I first read the headline that he sat during the anthem, and read his rationale for doing so, I was cheering him. It was a tremendously brave act, and it was one that makes sense. To me, anyway. Then I went offline for a few days, came back to this uproar, and was like seriously?

This is a nation whose sworn law enforcement officers are repeatedly being excused for murdering black people. Why the fuck should any of us be required to role play an empty act of meaningless "respect" for what "America stands for." Standing up while a song plays. Sitting down while a song plays. What fucking difference does it make? Does standing up while a song plays do anything to fix any one of the current serious problems we can't seem to solve? Gun violence? Violence against people of color? This stupid continued battle over which kind of people can use which water fountains restrooms?

Standing up for the national anthem is a hollow gesture that lets us whitewash all of our problems for 2:30" and then reward ourselves with a thunderous round of applause and a rousing cheer that surely proves that we're all in this together! We're all Americans! Equality!

I'm glad he sat it out. I'm glad he called out the issues he did. I'm pissed off that people are talking about absolutely the wrong thing. Our national discussion is about how someone -- not just someone, but a person of color, the nerve -- didn't stand up during a song? We're not talking about police officers murdering citizens, or anything else? Good job, America. Really well done.

And while I think it was really brave of him to do what he did and say what he did, I'm also a little heartsick over the fact that a) he didn't really have anything to lose; he not only was unlikely to be the starting quarterback regardless, the talk is that he's unlikely to even stay on the team for much longer, politics completely unrelated; and b) if/when he gets demoted or cut, the smug and righteous gloating of people who think he got what he deserved will be misdirected because of the preceding point, and will again elevate the discussion about sitting/standing over the discussion about STOP FUCKING SHOOTING PEOPLE.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:06 AM on August 29, 2016 [20 favorites]


many folks disliked our national tune and during the heyday of folk music, a lot of people wanted Guthrie's this Land is My Land to replace The Star Spangled Banner. But then they also had to think about the oft neglected final lines, usually dropped when now sung.

I think that they included those verses when Pete Seegar sang it at the 2009 Obama Inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial, which now makes me even happier.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:10 AM on August 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Myke Tavarres [Eagles LB] plans to sit out national anthem Thursday
"In this situation, I've really got nothing to lose," he said. "I'm a rookie free agent, haven't signed any major contract, so there's not a lot of money on the line, I don't have any big endorsement deals on the line. Really what's at stake is my pride and what kind of man would I be and what kind of African-American would I be if I didn't stand my ground on this issue we have today?

"[It] needs to be done. Will there be backlash? Probably. I don't think anyone has bought my jersey yet, so I don't know if it's going to be burned, but it's a major issue and I'm definitely going to stand my ground for this one."
posted by gladly at 11:10 AM on August 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


It replaced The Internationale, so I can't really agree.

The newer anthem, or at least the 1944 version, has 100% more smashing of Nazis.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:17 AM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Am I missing something? Did Kaepernick say something in particular about the racist history of Star Spangled Banner?

Sorry, my fault, I misread that Intercept piece as reporting that he criticized the song as well. He only said the act was celebrating America not that the song was racist.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:21 AM on August 29, 2016


I'm glad he sat it out. I'm glad he called out the issues he did. I'm pissed off that people are talking about absolutely the wrong thing. Our national discussion is about how someone -- not just someone, but a person of color, the nerve -- didn't stand up during a song? We're not talking about police officers murdering citizens, or anything else? Good job, America. Really well done.

It's interesting to note that this is not the first time that a person of colour has taken a bold stand against the anthem. There is a long history of this kind of protest happening and if anything it only further proves how much work still needs to be done with regards to how this country's citizens sees itself on a larger scale, whether its citizens truly feel as if their country respects and accepts them (socially, culturally, politically, etc.).
posted by Fizz at 11:26 AM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I vote for 4'33" for the new national anthem.
posted by JohnFromGR at 11:37 AM on August 29, 2016 [15 favorites]


Kaepernick needs a new agent. He would be in Denver playing for a coach that every quarterback who has ever played for proclaims as the best coach for quarterbacks ever if only he had agreed to a contract do-over. They could have done it with incentives and Kaepernick might even have gotten more money if he had played well for Kubiak whose quarterbacks nearly always over perform their scouted talent levels. Instead he is living in Chip Kelly's dog house with a big contract and a trade request and there is no way in hell he gets a better situation than he would have had in Denver.

It's a lose-lose-lose. Fire that agent pronto. The only person in the NFL who thinks he likes this is Blaine Gabbert. We will see. What is the analog here for a first round quarterback busting and then succeeding elsewhere? I am scratching my head and I cannot think of a single one.

On further review I found Len Dawson. He was drafted in the first round in 1957. Blaine Gabbert might want to call him.
posted by bukvich at 11:47 AM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's probably worth noting that Kaepernick is on his way to losing the starting job in San Francisco to Blaine Gabbert, a mere three years after Kaep was being heralded as the next generation of mobile quarterback.

Kaep has had a dark cloud following him for a while: in addition to his collapse and ouster there's been some bad blood with the front office that had him wanting out and not getting it. Its hard not to think that this would be a contributing factor.

The Niners, for their part were remarkably cool about it:
In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem."
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:54 AM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Who cares about the interpretation of a song written 200 (odd) years ago by a lawyer over a drinking song? 200-odd years ago Jefferson was a slave holder and (later) Lincoln held racist views and wanted black folks out of the country.

Even if the song itself had the best and most noble of lyrics, there is still racism going on NOW and that’s reason enough to protest.

And Kaepernick has the guts to do it (and was clear enough about his reasons for doing it)
Ask some of these “patriots” what have they done for the country other than stand up and stop guzzling beer for two minutes before a sporting event.

And why do we have to do this every. Single. Fucking. Time.
“hey I believe in freedom…but THIS…” Blah blah blah. Lenny Bruce, J. D. Salinger, Edward Albee, John Lennon, Jello Biafra the Geto Boys, too much rap and hip hop to mention. Chuck D is the perfect guy to rebut this.

And on that note, since way before Tipper Gore, back when Billie Holiday caught hell for “Strange Fruit” singing about lynching, those kinds of people (in this case “patriots”) have been unable to connect the reality people are speaking about with symbolic speech and protest.

Because they’re willfully ignorant of the reality of nonwhite existence. Hell, purposefully, forcefully, f’ing aggressively ignorant.
And then 10 or 20 years (or longer) later we celebrate them as big heroes well past the time of them enduring this shit on our behalf.

Yeah, sorta like “the troops” actually.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:01 PM on August 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


My takeaway from the Rio Olympics was that almost everyone has a better national anthem than we do. Brazil's was the best.

Have you forgotten Socchi 2014 already? Russia definitely has the most awesome anthem.
posted by arnicae at 12:08 PM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


I had a Facebook acquaintance make the "disrespectful to the troops" argument, which explicitly went "Not standing for the anthem is disrespectful to the troops who died to protect your right to not stand during the anthem."

I just can't get my head around that. Some troops died to protect your right to Do a Thing. The way for you to show respect for those troops is to decline to exercise that right, thereby making their sacrifice pointless?
posted by chazlarson at 12:09 PM on August 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


Wait, you're supposed to put your hand over your heart during the national anthem? I knew that about the pledge, but that's because it's supposed to make your 'pledge' more solemn. The national anthem has more questions in it than it does pledges.
posted by hwyengr at 12:10 PM on August 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wait, you're supposed to put your hand over your heart during the national anthem? I knew that about the pledge, but that's because it's supposed to make your 'pledge' more solemn.

All of this stuff is governed by the Flag Code, which is technically law but nonbinding law as I understand it?
Previous to Flag Day, June 14, 1923 there were no federal or state regulations governing display of the United States Flag. It was on this date that the National Flag Code was adopted by the National Flag Conference which was attended by representatives of the Army and Navy which had evolved their own procedures, and some 66 other national groups. This purpose of providing guidance based on the Army and Navy procedures relating to display and associated questions about the U. S. Flag was adopted by all organizations in attendance.

A few minor changes were made a year later during the Flag Day 1924 Conference, It was not until June 22, 1942 that Congress passed a joint resolution which was amended on December 22, 1942 to become Public Law 829; Chapter 806, 77th Congress, 2nd session. Exact rules for use and display of the flag (36 U.S.C. 173-178) as well as associated sections (36 U.S.C. 171) Conduct during Playing of the National Anthem, (36 U.S.C. 172) the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, and Manner of Delivery were included.
posted by corb at 12:15 PM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Where exactly am I supposed to rest my stinking, sweaty baseball cap, then. Over my heart, which seems like an insult given the condition of said hat?
posted by hwyengr at 12:20 PM on August 29, 2016


So, under the section, "Conduct during Playing", you have
During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should render the military salute at the first note of the anthem and retain this position until the last note. When the flag is not displayed, those present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there.
However, what I /will/ say is that civilians who talk a great game about respecting the Flag Code often never pay attention to the sections on "display during inclement weather" (storm flags only) "display at night" (only if lit), NEVER AS WEARING APPAREL OR FOR ADVERTISING PURPOSES, etc.
posted by corb at 12:22 PM on August 29, 2016 [16 favorites]


Ha! That's covered in the flag code, over my shoulder so my hand is still over the heart. Who says that the government is inefficient!
posted by hwyengr at 12:23 PM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Regardless, it seems that with all the brouhaha, I'll be going for a beer in the concourse during the anthem from now on, especially since my significant other has caught on to my sitting during God Bless America that the Cubs usually play right beforehand.
posted by hwyengr at 12:25 PM on August 29, 2016


What is the analog here for a first round quarterback busting and then succeeding elsewhere? I am scratching my head and I cannot think of a single one.

Jim Plunkett?

I guess that means Kaepernick wins the SB with the Las Vegas Raiders.
posted by notyou at 12:27 PM on August 29, 2016


Not Plunkett. He was a successful respected NFL quarterback on every team he played for. Keep searching though I am sure can come up with a better example than Dawson!
posted by bukvich at 12:46 PM on August 29, 2016


Going on Smedlymans' 'Strange Fruit' comment, wiki had this tucked in concerning reactions to the song.

"In October 1939, Samuel Grafton of The New York Post described "Strange Fruit": "If the anger of the exploited ever mounts high enough in the South, it now has its Marseillaise."
posted by clavdivs at 1:04 PM on August 29, 2016


However, what I /will/ say is that civilians who talk a great game about respecting the Flag Code often never pay attention to the sections on "display during inclement weather" (storm flags only) "display at night" (only if lit), NEVER AS WEARING APPAREL OR FOR ADVERTISING PURPOSES, etc.

Yes, this peeves me to absolutely no end. I personally don't care all that much about the proper display of the flag per se, but the hypocrisy of people who claim to care displaying the flag in a non-respectful manner is the sort of thing I will always find galling.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:04 PM on August 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


Plunkett started off great in NE, but soon enough fizzled, and didn't really do a whole lot while with the 49ers.

I don't know from Len Dawson, but when we were kids playing football in the front yard, whenever anybody screwed up, we'd holler "Plunkett down the toilet" and not "Dawson down the drain" or something, so case closed.
posted by notyou at 1:10 PM on August 29, 2016


The 49ers brought Plunkett in planning to compete. They bagged him planning to rebuild.

You kids might have thought Plunkett was Just Another Guy but his peers thought he was a leader. Not very many were surprised when he led the Raiders to two super bowl wins.

Maybe I am being ignorant calling Gabbert a bust but the 49ers got him for one 6th round draft choice.

Here was Plunkett's trade value:

Prior to the 1976 NFL Draft, Plunkett was traded to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for quarterback Tom Owen, two first round picks in 1976, and a first and second round pick in 1977.
posted by bukvich at 1:31 PM on August 29, 2016


“Kaepernick is asking for justice, not peace,” Bomani Jones, The Undefeated, 29 August 2016
posted by ob1quixote at 1:49 PM on August 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


I like the first verse as our national anthem because of the way I parse the questions in it;
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave    
    ## Yup, definitely, there it is
O'er the land of the free                                                                   
    ## ... can think of some counterexamples...
And the home of the brave?                                                           
    ##  who's going to do something about them?  Me? 
posted by clew at 2:12 PM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]




Have you forgotten Socchi 2014 already? Russia definitely yt has the most awesome anthem.

im so mad this isn't a link to boney m's rasputin
posted by poffin boffin at 2:18 PM on August 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


Kaep has had a dark cloud following him for a while: in addition to his collapse and ouster there's been some bad blood with the front office that had him wanting out and not getting it. Its hard not to think that this would be a contributing factor.

Right. The writing has been on the wall for a while with regard to Kaepernick. Now when he gets ousted the cynic in me thinks people will blame it on this (extraordinarily mild) act of protest rather than his lack of performance.

But not standing during the national anthem? People who get upset about that are the same idjits who think they're oh-so-clever for saying "all lives matter!".
posted by Justinian at 2:20 PM on August 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Russia definitely has the most awesome anthem.

Naw, they halfway ruined it when the took out the nazi-smashing in the 70s or 80s and double-extra-ruined it when they took out the, well, everything and replaced it with boring rah-rah blah. Somewhere out there in the multiverse is a better timeline where instead they changed it to be mostly about Gagarin.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:25 PM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Most dumbass comment I've seen yet was from Chris Ault: "You never lead by sitting down" Why am I not surprised that he manages to carefully forget the entire Civil Rights movement.
posted by tavella at 2:29 PM on August 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


On national anthems, Little Atoms recently talked to the author of Republic or Death: Travels in Search of National Anthems. Alex talks about: why most anthems are dirgy, the fact that most European anthems were originally based on God Save the King/Queen (as it was the first known anthem), how a Serb came to write Kosovo's anthem and so on.

The book is on my to read list! There's a blog he's running to accompany the book. In the latest post he talks about Kaepernick, and discusses the Black National Anthem as sung by Ray Charles.
posted by sarcas at 3:35 PM on August 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've seen the Star-Spangled Banner played at the beginning of a fancy-dress 5K and a charity walk, so I mostly think you should keep it for actual patriotic occasions, not random recreational gatherings.
posted by holgate at 3:49 PM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Australian's anthem was originally composed when our states were British colonies, and its original lyrics included this clunky bit:
When gallant Cook from Albion sailed,
To trace wide oceans o'er,
True British courage bore him on,
Til he landed on our shore.
Then here he raised Old England's flag,
The standard of the brave;
"With all her faults we love her still"
"Britannia rules the wave."
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia fair.
It was never part of our national anthem, though, which is explicitly defined as the first verse plus an extra one that was composed for Federation in 1901.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:03 PM on August 29, 2016


The SFPD POA has gotten its digs in:
[SFPD POA president] Halloran said while the union acknowledges “Mr. Kaepernick’s first amendment right to remain seated during the National Anthem, as inappropriate as that may be, we will not stand by while he attacks police officers in this country with statements such as, ‘People are on paid leave while people of color are killed.’”

He asked that the NFL and the 49ers “denounce his foolish statements,” saying that members of the San Francisco Police Department “on numerous occasions have protected Mr. Kaepernick and have ensured that the venues where the NFL holds its events are fully protected.”
That's right. Stating that people are on paid leave while people of color are killed is, in reality, an attack on police officers all across the country.
posted by rtha at 4:29 PM on August 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


its like Horitio Hornblower wrote half these things.

Imteresting, Corb pointed out the "Flag Code". A lot of the same information is covered under the copy of "The American Patriots Handbook", Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society, 1987. In this tome is a section by Colonel James A Moss, "The Flag of our United States" under Flag Laws he mentions the "Act of May 16, 1918 provides for the dismissal from service, when the United States is at war, of any employee or offical of the United States government who criticizes in an abusive or violent manner the Flag of the United States."
posted by clavdivs at 4:33 PM on August 29, 2016


For that Flag Code, we can probably interpret "should" as in RFC2119 :
This word, or the adjective "RECOMMENDED", mean that there
may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to ignore a
particular item, but the full implications must be understood and
carefully weighed before choosing a different course.
Although in documents governed by the RFC, the words are usually in all caps. </geek-snark>
posted by Death and Gravity at 5:16 PM on August 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


It took me years to realize Kaepernick isn't white.

Did you... never look at his picture?

Anyway. This has been very unsettling for me because I loathe the 49ers and have spent the last three years gleefully trashtalking Kaep... and now he has my full respect.

As always, Very Smart Brothas has an excellent take on the two most stupid arguments about this (the second being that because he's rich he shouldn't protest).
posted by TwoStride at 5:18 PM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Great exchange on Twitter tody between Tony Stewart, the NASCAR driver, and Phillaticus, an Eagles fan:
Tony Stewart @TonyStewart
"I'm sorry but @Kaepernick7 needs to learn the fact about police before running his dumbass mouth! He has no clue what they go thru! #idiot"

captain beefheart @Philatticus
.@TonyStewart @Kaepernick7 didn’t you kill a guy?
The burn was so sick that Deadspin wrote an article about it.
posted by msalt at 5:22 PM on August 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


Kaepernick has not been good at QB for a variety of reason and certainly won't start for the 49ers, regardless of this. But I'm highly skeptical of the report about him converting to Islam (wtf is Terezownens?).

Kaepernick was very thoughtful and eloquent at explaining his reasons in a long conversation with the press, and earlier in a meeting with teammates.

Not only are the 49ers supportive, but his coach (Chip Kelly) and the NFL league office are being cool about it too.

On the other hand, the Eagles rookie (Tavares) backed down on his plan to join the protest. And Donald Trump chimed in stupidly because of course he did.
posted by msalt at 5:33 PM on August 29, 2016


From the Deadspin comments: the clapback from Twitter user @85mf: "I know what Tony Stewart went through, and it was a fellow racer." OUCH.
posted by TwoStride at 5:34 PM on August 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


Kaepernick is asking for justice, not peace,” Bomani Jones, The Undefeated, 29 August 2016
posted by ob1quixote at 3:49 PM on August 29 [3 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]

Came here to post this. It's the best thing I've read about the protest and the response.
posted by colt45 at 6:09 PM on August 29, 2016


The collective freak-out when someone "disrespects the flag/the troops" makes more sense if you view it through the lens of American civil religion.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:40 PM on August 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


Prince — "America" (we would also accept "Sexy MF")

I think Anil Dash postulated that "Housequake" would be a good national anthem. Though maybe we should take it in a different direction and do "Rock Lobster." How much fun would it be to hear an entire stadium do all the voices of the fish? "THERE GOES A NARWHAL!!"

It would be the most fun.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:08 PM on August 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yeah after I posted this on my facebook some guy I don't why I'm friends with asked "Are you this stupid" and I deleted them. I'm really glad for those who speak up about things like this because, maybe it's being in Texas, but I really know a lot of racist people and people who "aren't racist" but just happen to know BLM isn't important and everyone should stop talking about race because IT"S RACIST to talk about racial injustice! And wimpy and disrespectful and stuff!

I keep having to remind myself that "keep standing up for what's right even if you stand alone" since in this conservative town it can feel like that- but thankfully I know others are out there, mostly from friends and family in other cities and online so, thanks to all of you who keep trying to do what's right.

Right now I'm reminded how scary these people are. Like really racist hateful people. There are people right by my house who drive big trucks and wave confederate flags and I'm afraid of them. They get drunk and leave trash everywhere and you hear gunshots from people just shooting- which is scary as fuck, like what is wrong with you? I've known too many of them, people you can't say anything about race around because they are drunk and waving a fucking gun in your face. And if they aren't actively doing that, you know they are part of that culture and they are spitting insults in your face and threatening you or talking about actually taking the lives of people who disrespect the flag or think POC are equal human beings, or that men shouldn't assault women (sorry I mean "hit on forcefully" or whatever they call it).

And I feel all this as a white person living near this, I want to create whatever buffers can be made for POC dealing with shit, it's horrible and it needs to stop.
posted by xarnop at 7:24 PM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


There's an apocryphal story about German agents in WW1 or WW2.--ROU_Xenophobe

That would have to be WW2 because...

The Star Spangled Banner, though written in 1814, didn't become the National Anthem until 1932, all because of a Ripley's Believe It or Not comic mentioning that, believe it or not, the US doesn't have a National Anthem, which led to an uproar.

Why not another uproar to drop the last three verses, which no one knows or really considers part of the anthem anyway?
posted by eye of newt at 8:36 PM on August 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm glad he made this stance, though the fact that people are even looking at it as a stance is fucking annoying. Honestly, it's a goddamn song, who gives a shit. We should be working towards actually solving real problems in this country like poverty, racism, workers rights, healthcare, etc. etc.

On my last trip to the Shreveport, LA airport, while I was waiting for my flight at the gate, the strangest thing happened. Out of nowhere, the national anthem started playing over the speakers. Everyone, like 100% of folks I could see, stood up, took hats off, hand over heart, the whole nine yards. I was very confused. I don't ever participate in these traditions because they make me feel gross, and people were definitely looking at me like I was the crazy one for not participating. The thing that confused me the most is that most of the people at the airport were not white and I was thinking to myself that they have more reason that I do to be upset at this racist song. But, I guess feeling like you belong and doing the "socially correct" thing has inertia or something.
posted by FireFountain at 9:28 PM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


The thing that confused me the most is that most of the people at the airport were not white and I was thinking to myself that they have more reason that I do to be upset at this racist song. But, I guess feeling like you belong and doing the "socially correct" thing has inertia or something.

I just want to gently push back on the idea that POC don't have any investment in the American Civil Religion or more broadly, displays of patriotism or America. It's not always just about "inertia" or doing the "socially correct thing". It feels like an assumption that white people tend to make that is really not born out, and that tends to stand as a bit of a barrier. Like, my immigrant family 100% stands for the anthem, not just those of us who served in the military. And in the military, POC and white alike all render honors to the colors - and it's one of the most equalized places out there. I'm not going to say nobody ducks the colors, because people do, but even the act of ducking is itself an act of reverence - like, if I get caught outside, of course I'll have to give due honors, but I'm in a hurry, so I'm going to try to get inside fast.

It's not about POC wanting to "feel like we belong." We DO belong. We ARE a part of this country. We may take action, individually and collectively, to improve that country, and that may include taking a stance on whether or not to stand for the anthem. But the idea that the anthem is never FOR us is one that I don't really think is accurate.
posted by corb at 9:48 PM on August 29, 2016 [14 favorites]


I'm not persuaded by the claim that the song is referring to African-American enslavement.

The "hireling and slave" line describes the British fighters in contrast to those from "the land of the free and the home of the brave". That is, the British fighters were mercenaries or impressed, while the American fighters were courageous volunteers. It's a stretch to say that the author was referring to some particular troop of former slaves.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:49 PM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm not persuaded by the claim that the song is referring to African-American enslavement.

Some person on Twitter argues (as part of a longer thread):

"republican political rhetoric from this era routinely refers to subjects of monarchies as "slaves." that verse is about the British

which at least sounds plausible to me, although I have no idea whether it’s true.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 11:18 PM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


It all seems creepy and cult-like to me. I stand up and take my hat off just because I don't want some drunk shithead to take my hat and throw it across the crowd or dump a beer on me but I haven't sang the damn thing in so long I doubt that I could without a lyric sheet.

I prefer to reserve my voice for screaming obscenities at refs like a good football fan.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 12:30 AM on August 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


It all seems creepy and cult-like to me.
yes, weretable and the undead chairs it does and is, sort of.

At a baseball game a couple of years ago, I saw a bunch of suburban thugs start beating on a guy who didn't stand up during the anthem. The guy was a vet, missing one leg and half of the other. I don't know how to express my disgust.
Fucking sportsball, you can have it.
posted by james33 at 4:30 AM on August 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


Given that the English-language lyrics of the Internationale are a un-singable pile of archaic words and phrasing, "This Land is Your Land" is the right choice. It's distinctively American, it's got a decent tune, it's old enough to seem venerable, and the later verses, well, they're not quite the Internationale, but they're pretty great. Especially the verse about how to read a no trespassing sign.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 4:37 AM on August 30, 2016 [10 favorites]


But the idea that the anthem is never FOR us is one that I don't really think is accurate.

Agreed. Mostly the fellow's guilty of bad manners. I got plenty of beef with the way our lords and masters run this joint, but if it matters to my fellow citizens that I stand for the anthem, I'll do it. Hands at my side, but I'll do it. Plenty of other avenues for protest out there.

As to the Internationale, I put it on a par with the Horst Wessel Lied.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:46 AM on August 30, 2016


"This Land is Your Land" is the right choice. It's distinctively American, it's got a decent tune, it's old enough to seem venerable, and the later verses, well, they're not quite the Internationale, but they're pretty great.

Pretty sure all of this is true of BOC's "Godzilla." Just sayin'.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:06 AM on August 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


you're gonna want that cowbell
posted by entropicamericana at 8:17 AM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


They should probably just go with this one. They did play it immediately following my citizenship ceremony (with a nice patriotic video on a giant screen overhead).

Or maybe Toby Keith if you want something a little bit more aggressive?
posted by theorique at 8:21 AM on August 30, 2016


mystyk: his critics take the term hypocrisy to such a ridiculous length that we pretty much need a new word for the sheer galling extent of it

How about "chutzpahcrisy"?
posted by shponglespore at 8:45 AM on August 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


I say we stop pussyfooting around and adopt "Political Science" as the national anthem. I got yer aggressive right here.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:47 AM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


My favorite Russian national anthem is mashed with Gimme All Your Lovin'.
posted by MtDewd at 9:36 AM on August 30, 2016


What he’s doing is rendering the ultimate respect to the flag. He’s exercising the freedom as intended whether to take the time to remember the people who have fought for freedom or to protest freedom denied. No one gives me shit when I stand and salute, because what I happen to remember are men who died in the service of their country. For some reason a lot of people, who never knew anyone who died that way, like to do that too. Not sure why, it gets me down really.
But we recognize the plurality of experience and respect it. You never served but you want to say thanks or feel gratitude? Great. No problem. I wouldn’t presume to tell you you can’t because you weren’t there. On the other hand, why can’t they see the connection between someone putting themselves in harms way and making a sacrifice for their country vs. someone like Kaepernick who is – putting himself in harms way and making a sacrifice for their country?

We always seem to, I don’t know – tough concept here – idolize, or iconize the enemy (heroes too), looking at the perpetrator instead of looking at the actual root cause. We’re against tyranny, tyrants themselves are relatively immaterial (they can only live so long, the system they create, that’s another story). Yet we focus on the 'bad guy' instead of the apparatus that can produce another 'bad guy' at any moment.

But even so, how can anyone take this as disrespectful? There is a cause here. He’s not just lazy and doesn’t want to stand for a few minutes.

And THAT is what’s disrespectful.
I see people all the time, talking, boozing, grab assing, whatever during such things – because they can’t be bothered to care. That is what’s a travesty and an insult to everyone who fights for freedom. Not being for or against something.
But being apathetic and selfish, is truly insulting. Too cowardly to truly care. Hell, even the hypocrites at least pay lip service.
Even the traitors at least cared about *something* (and then, y’know, something else, but still…)

It’s with good reason Dante reserved his most scathing contempt for the cowardly moral apathetics by not even engaging them in Hell.

"Those who are here can place no hope in death,
and their blind life is so abject that they
are envious of every other fate.

The world will let no fame of theirs endure;
both justice and compassion must disdain them;
let us not talk of them, but look and pass."

For punishment he has them chased by stinging gadflys and endlessly chasing banners. Apt.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:00 PM on August 30, 2016 [11 favorites]


Is this a manufactured controversy? There's so much else going on of pressing concern and it's crazy that everyone in America is weighing in on this seemingly trivial thing about sitting down for the National Anthem. Who invented this culture war to distract us? Is it Rumsfeld? Seems like the perfect wedge of the loyalty / patriotism / social autonomy / appeal to authority values of conservatives, against the justice / individual autonomy / identity values of the left. The perfect plan to get a good old fashioned culture/values fight going weeks before a fraught election in which the conservative candidate is polling abysmally? What other cultural wedges are going to be thrown at us in the coming weeks? I've got my money on abortion making a surprise appearance.
posted by naju at 6:16 PM on August 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


he exercized his right as an American, and i have no
problem with that. and Hi Mefi from a noob thats been checking out this website and finally joined after 8 yrs>
posted by beemerboxer at 6:34 PM on August 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


#VeteransForKaepernick is trending on The Social Medias now.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 11:50 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is this a manufactured controversy?

It would not surprise me one bit.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:08 AM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


#VeteransForKaepernick is amazing. Check it out. Lots of photos in uniform with comments like "I'm not defending a song, I'm defending your right to speak freely."

Other interesting data points:

- Jackie Robinson never sang the national anthem, either

- why does anyone even capitalize "National Anthem"?

- according to this article, more than 15% of the US population was enslaved in 1810 and the British specifically recruited escaped slaves into a unit called "the Colonial Marines," part of the force that overran Washington and burned the White House in 1814.

- Francis Scot Key owned slaves while writing the anthem, used his post as DA to defend slavery and attack abolitiionists, and incited the Snow Riot of 1835, a combined riot/lynch mob that destroyed the businesses of freed slaves.

- Colin Kaepernick told a reporter that he was well aware of the references to slaves in the third verse of the anthem.
posted by msalt at 9:28 AM on August 31, 2016 [10 favorites]


‏@AmyTrask (former executive with the Oakland Raiders)

"My first ~ 25 years in NFL, players/coaches remained in locker room during anthem. Changed in ~ 2009. Perhaps of no interest, but a factoid."

7:39 PM - 29 Aug 2016
posted by msalt at 9:34 AM on August 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


It always struck me as interesting that the Star Spangled Banner is often performed rather than played to sing along with. National anthems after all are supposed to be songs that everyone can sing together to promote national unity. But in the USA, it seems like, more often than not the song now becomes a canvas for the personal expression of the singer, with ornate and annoying coloratura in the final bars. It is rendered impossible to sing along with.

I don't know of another anthem that has succumbed more completely to the curse of individual performance for mass consumption. Oh Canada is going that way a bit thanks to our proximity to the USA and that fact that our anthems are sung together more often than any two anthems anywhere.

I'm not an American, but if I were, I'd advocate replacing the SSB with American the Beautiful, sans the religious and gendered language. It's easier to sing together and the words are much more evocative and serene.
posted by salishsea at 5:57 PM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yes, it's somewhat weird that the USA (which has such rich choral traditions) selected this as its anthem - something that's hard, and not especially rewarding to sing; and especially hard for informal groups. There are so many great alternatives! Why does it have to be TSSB?|
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:01 PM on August 31, 2016


Naw, they halfway ruined it when the took out the nazi-smashing in the 70s or 80s and double-extra-ruined it when they took out the, well, everything and replaced it with boring rah-rah blah. Somewhere out there in the multiverse is a better timeline where instead they changed it to be mostly about Gagarin.

Gennady Zyuganov would have done it right.
posted by arnicae at 7:05 PM on August 31, 2016




If there's one thing we're good at in the U.S., it's dumbing things down. So, let's just skip straight to the end of the debate and officially change our national anthem from "The Star-Spangled Banner" to "Hot Cross Buns." That way, the entire audience at every event can not only stand and put one hand over their hearts; they can use their free hands to play along on the $2.99 one-piece plastic soprano recorder handed out by the usher on the way in.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:15 AM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Honestly, I think it's not so much that the SSB is hard to sing, it's that people aren't used to singing it. Most of the political events I've been to lately involve crowdsinging the anthem, and it went perfectly fine. But everyone's also expecting to sing the anthem, and not thinking of it as "this impossibly hard song I definitely can't do." People sing it in their own range, and it really is beautiful.
posted by corb at 2:00 PM on September 1, 2016


Gennady Zyuganov would have done it right.

I have to admit I had to look him up but I expect he'd have just gone back to the 1944 version, lack of a USSR be damned.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:14 PM on September 1, 2016








A great counter-protest to a boyott like that would be if the empty seats were bought up by a BLM faction who also stayed seated during the National Anthem.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:12 PM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


"“The board of directors of the Santa Clara Police Officers’ Association has a duty to protect its members and work to make all of their working environments free of harassing behavior,” the union wrote in the letter, which members hand-delivered to 49ers officials, KNTV reported. "(from the SFgate.com story)

I'm caught between bursting into flames of rage and falling down laughing at this completely pathetic, whiny bullshit statement from what are lauded as Brave Heroes. Do they refuse to go to work because some other members of the public might actually harass them (like, by calling them names, or vomiting on them, or trying to punch them during an arrest or or or)? Or is it only harassment when a black person says "Black people get shot and the people who shoot them get put on paid leave" and sits down as a protest?
posted by rtha at 10:24 PM on September 2, 2016 [10 favorites]


Imaginary headline:

Cops Refuse to Work Because Black Man Exercises Right to Free Expression
posted by nubs at 8:03 AM on September 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


Watching AM Joy and she her segment brought up a good point: How is this even legal? Can the police, as representatives of the government, really refuse to do this, because he said something they didn't like?

I guess cops just hate all the rights in the constitution?

I'm just really started to get pissed at how much of a big deal people are making out of this.
posted by LizBoBiz at 8:27 AM on September 3, 2016


Can the police, as representatives of the government, really refuse to do this, because he said something they didn't like?

Depends whether they're officially on-duty or doing it as grocery-cop style private security for extra cash. (Arguably, the oath applies off-duty, but whatever.)

This is now apparently the standard response of police unions to having their precious fee-fees hurt by black people. (Along with trying to pretend that cops with Nazi-era symbols as tattoos may just be proud German-Americans.) There were similar spats over a Beyoncé concert and Minnesota Lynx WNBA games.

The 49ers should call their bluff and say "fine, if we can't rely on you then we won't use you at all." They won't, of course, because the NFL is a culturally conservative institution run on socialist principles for the benefit of white kajillionaires.
posted by holgate at 8:51 AM on September 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Didn't one of the NYPD police unions make a similar threat a while back, and then pretty much nothing happened because the actual people in charge quietly ignored it? I suspect something similar will happen hear. The union will throw their little tantrum and then everyone but the activists will just forget there was ever any tantrum to begin with.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:12 AM on September 3, 2016


It may be off duty time. When I was in the military, I remember this weird thing where we would get "volunteered" to do off duty security work, and as I recall it, the Army wouldn't get paid, but our local FRG or affiliated group would get paid. I thought it was super sketch at the time, but I guess it let the football folks avoid security background checks? I wouldn't be surprised if it was some similar thing. Because otherwise, like, why is being security at NFL games even a police function at all? That would be weird too.
posted by corb at 2:19 PM on September 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Off shift work for hire is often a sizable percentage of officer compensation. I knew cops in Miami who made about 40% of their year's pay from their private work. There, in the 90s, these gigs were handled by the authorities where places - malls, sporting venues, etc - agreed to pay for policing that they weren't legally entitled to and the officers were compensated at OT rates. As I recall this later came under challenge because it was being used to calculate pension rates as their last year's pay rates were used to determine retirement pay.

So yeah it's sort of off duty time but cops have arrest authority regardless of being officially clocked in.
posted by phearlez at 4:36 PM on September 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


I believe their time adds to official time for purposes of calculating overtime and pensions, as well.

This is common for movie shoots too, and like football games, it's considered a prize perk to the point where the biggest scandal in the past has been police brass saving the service for buddies, similar to controversy over allotment of IPO shares to favored insiders.

The Santa Clara PD is wracked by corruption scandals and has looked like crap with this maneuver. There are several other agencies involved in providing security for games and those officers would be more than happy to pick up the hours for a cush gig and a chance to half-watch the game for free.

Fun fact: one of the agencies certified to cover these games is the NASA police department at the Ames Research Center at Moffett Field (less than six miles away). How fun would it be to have Santa Clara PD get shut out of this sweet overtime and be replaced by NASA cops?
posted by msalt at 8:15 PM on September 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


I came across a Facebook cop-support group called "Enough Is Enough" and found this picture posted with several approving comments (mine is the one congratulating them for their honesty).
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:27 PM on September 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Late to the party, but I found Vox's take to be concise and informative:
Kaepernick didn’t bring politics into sports. The NFL did that by playing the anthem.
posted by Rykey at 4:51 PM on September 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


President Obama’s full statement on Colin Kaepernick (NBC Sports, Sept. 5, 2016)
"... I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about. And if nothing else, what he’s done is he’s generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about."
posted by filthy light thief at 9:45 PM on September 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


The amount of Seattle Sounders FC fans/supporters who are complaining about this protest is eye opening, especially since at Sounders home matches, nearly everyone replaces 'home of the brave' with 'home of the SOUNDERS!' when it's sung. (Fast forward to about 4:02 to hear it).

And when others have called them out for being disrespectful by doing this? It gets pooh-poohed away or completely ignored.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:09 AM on September 6, 2016 [4 favorites]




This is a really great article; however, it is frustrating for the "22 veterans a day commit suicide" myth to be repeated here. While unacceptable, the correct statistic is that one veteran a day commits suicide. When discussing really heavy issues, we need to work with facts.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:32 AM on September 6, 2016


This is a really great article; however, it is frustrating for the "22 veterans a day commit suicide" myth to be repeated here. While unacceptable, the correct statistic is that one veteran a day commits suicide.

Got a link for that? It seems like one active duty service member a day commits suicide:
On Jan. 14 [2013], Department of Defense officials acknowledged that during 2012, service members committed suicide at a record pace as more than 349 people took their own lives across the four branches. The military suicide rate is slightly lower than that of the general public.
But "veterans" includes everyone who ever was in the military.
posted by Etrigan at 8:37 AM on September 6, 2016




From the NPR link:
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.
That doesn't seem to jibe with DoD's admission that one active service member per day alone commits suicide.

Also, that again draws from a subset of the total veteran population:
There are 21.8 million veterans of the U.S. armed forces as of 2014, according [to] the Census Bureau, approximately 10 percent of whom are women.... An estimated 2.5 million service members served in [Iraq and Afghanistan], according to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America advocacy group, but they represent only a fraction of American veterans.
So, sure, maybe only one recent veteran per day commits suicide, but there are another 19.7 million people in the population of veterans.
posted by Etrigan at 9:02 AM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


So, sure, maybe only one recent veteran per day commits suicide, but there are another 19.7 million people in the population of veterans.

But those veterans actually commit suicide at a lower rate than the general population.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:08 AM on September 6, 2016


But those veterans actually commit suicide at a lower rate than the general population.

From your WaPo link:
There are consistently higher rates of male and female veteran suicides compared to non-veteran suicides, but the difference is greater among males.
posted by Etrigan at 9:26 AM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I find that tack crazy gross. "We were going to care about 22 veteran suicides a day, but then we found some of them were Vietnam vets! F those guys, amirite?"
posted by corb at 10:03 AM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


[Folks, not sure what this is acheiving in here. Veteran suicides are bad, nobody is disputing that here. Thread is about the Kaepernick thing.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:07 AM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]




Denver Bronco (and former college teammate of Kaepernick) Brandon Marshall took a knee before the season opener tonight.
posted by TwoStride at 8:48 PM on September 8, 2016 [3 favorites]




I think the Lynch solution is probably what we'll see more if these take off - playing the anthem when people are in the locker room.
posted by corb at 7:45 AM on September 11, 2016


Just play it at 4am when only early cleaning staff is all there. Then they can be sure of 100% standing compliance and everyone is happy. Even me.
posted by phearlez at 1:13 PM on September 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Watch NFL Commentator Shannon Sharpe to White Folks, ‘Don’t Tell Us What to Grieve For’
“I see a [black] guy selling CD‘s, and he’s killed. I see a [black] guy selling loosie cigarettes, and he’s killed,” says Sharpe, his voice rising. “You see, that’s what gets us up in arms. Because you say non-compliance is a death sentence. If a man is gnawing a man’s face after he’s killed two people? We see what happened in Colorado; the [white] guy killed 12, and they take him alive. We see what happened in Charleston; nine parishioners and not only do they take [white guy] alive, they take him to buy Burger King because he’s hungry. So you think we’re supposed to be OK with this?”
The video (7:40, YouTube)
posted by filthy light thief at 9:16 PM on September 11, 2016 [8 favorites]


A Utah family sat out the national anthem when the organizers of a demolition derby included a Confederate flag for spectators to salute.

According to Travis Gettys of Raw Story, Daniel Argueta and his family decided to sit after a pickup truck displayed the Confederate flag and a Gadsden “don’t tread on me” flag, in addition to two American flags, during a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,”
posted by phearlez at 9:39 AM on September 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


If you listened to the national radio broadcast of the Santa Clara 49ers versus the Inglewood Rams last night you made the right call.
posted by bukvich at 11:13 AM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Lindy West's latest column talks about the whole freak-out surrounding this, and a detail jumped out at me that I hadn't heard elsewhere -- Kaepernick's birth mother took to Twitter to shame him for his protest.
posted by palomar at 6:21 PM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


You'd think that the article writer, having sourced and embedded the tweets, would have avoided the unpleasant "give up" in their own copy after the birth mom specifically scolds someone about it. Bleh.
posted by phearlez at 7:16 PM on September 13, 2016


OMG yes, whether one agrees with Russo's comments to Kaepernick or not, the adoption shaming comments are just horrifying and disgusting.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:19 AM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ugh, that is so horrible and gross. Leave his mom alone and stop making horrible comments about adoption. It's not a thing women do for lols.
posted by corb at 6:54 PM on September 14, 2016


(I clarify: "asshole commenters", not mefites)
posted by corb at 6:54 PM on September 14, 2016


So, Tony La Russa had some terrible things to say about the protest and comments made by MLB player Adam Jones. Jeff Passan had a remarkable article about it.

The hypocrisy of Tony La Russa and the understandable fears of black baseball players

"Tony La Russa, a convicted drunk driver who managed one of the most steroid-addled clubhouses in modern baseball history and today oversees an organization that at the trade deadline passed along to multiple organizations private medical information about a player it wanted to deal, spent Wednesday playing moralist, a role that suits him about as well as chief baseball officer for a major league franchise."
posted by colt45 at 1:16 AM on September 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's amazing to me that all these white coaches talking about how they'd stomp on a black athletes' expression (and usually in ways that would harm those athlete's careers/employment/future, like benching them) don't see what a really ugly look that is.

I mean, I guess I am using that word wrong. It's not at all unbelievable that the combination of ego, privilege, and American attitudes about employment (shut up, chattel, if you want this salary which is a gift more than it is compensation) would all pile up this way into this garbage stew. But... sigh I feel like a movie character who got some supernatural insight and is now walking around trying not to yell how do you not see that? It's RIGHT NEXT TO YOU! at the rest of the public.
posted by phearlez at 10:16 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


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