There’s a great deal of chatter on social media these days about how people behave during playing of the National Anthem. That’s understandable and it’s good for Americans to stop every once in a while and really examine who we are. On one level, Colin Kaepernick has achieved a major milestone of his protest – we’re talking about it.
You might be disgusted by Kaepernick’s and others’ show of disrespect by refusing to stand when the Anthem is played. Please understand this part, though: Those who are choosing to protest during the Anthem are not protesting the brave people who have fought, been maimed, and/or died in service to our country. The protestors are, in fact, making a statement that WE civilians are failing to live up to the ideals for which those veterans sacrificed.
If anything, the protestors seek to bring honor to our military heroes by illustrating that we’ve still got work to do to achieve what they were actually fighting for.
Being an American patriot is actually a tricky and thought-provoking job. Heck, the guys who wrote our Declaration of Independence and Constitution justified our break from England on their desire to not be treated as figurative (and hyperbolic) slaves of the Crown, while they owned actual slaves themselves. That’s just one of many contradictions that come with the territory as a citizen of the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Personally, I embrace those messy contradictions, but if you act like they don’t exist then you’re not giving enough thought to what it actually means to be an American. We can love our country warts and all, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with putting some Compound W on a few of those warts.
So if your counter-protest for the protestors is to highlight the tremendous sacrifice of some military hero then, congratulations! You have entirely missed the point of the protest. It sailed right over your head while you were distracted thumping your chest and telling those ingrates to “get out” if they don’t like it here. If your counter-protest of choice is someone in a position of authority demanding, coercing, or cajoling people under his authority to behave in a certain way when the Anthem plays (i.e., no $%&#@ protesting on MY watch), then congratulations! You have both missed the point of the protests AND celebrated replacing the American freedoms of those under that thumb with a brand of fascist nationalism that is directly counter to the ideals for which our brave military personnel sacrifice every single day.
When the Anthem plays, I stand. I remove my hat. I place my hand over my heart. And I SING. I always have, and I will continue to do so. But that’s my free choice to do that, and that freedom is a beautiful and precious thing. I can scarcely think of something less patriotic in America than forcing someone to stand (or do anything else) when our National Anthem plays.