When I was a kid growing up in the Los Angeles suburbs, every morning at our public school we started the day with the Pledge of Allegiance. Our teacher would lead us in our secular prayer to the flag as we stood, hand over heart, and mouthed the memorized words declaring our dedication to our flag and country. We all did this, every morning, except this one kid.
One kid sat there while we all prostrated ourselves to the flag in the corner of the classroom.
As kids, sans filters, we asked him why he wouldn’t stand? Why didn’t he utter the sacred words we were required to? What was wrong with him? Why was he special?
He, of course, replied that he was a Jehovah Witness – which for us was a useless piece of information. We would have had a better understanding had he simply said he was from the planet Xenu. Pressed, he had to explain that his religion didn’t allow him to salute the flag, or stand at attention and say the Pledge.
That kid had a rough go of it.
He was the oddball. Everyone looked at him, for the rest of the school year, as though he had shit his pants.
My aunt married a Jehovah’s Witness. They raised two kids, my cousins. They never celebrated birthdays or Christmas, and of course, they didn’t salute the flag or say the Pledge. They were weird. As I was getting older, these were younger cousins, I never blamed them – after all, it wasn’t their fault they were raised by shit bag Jehovah Witnesses that used their religion as a crutch to avoid patriotism and civics. I always felt sorry for my baby cousins.
Years later, I joined the Army. You don’t get more patriotic than that… I visited my aunt and uncle while on leave, probably after basic training in the 1980’s. My uncle – the spurious bastard responsible for corrupting my family with his shitty religion – was full of questions about firing different weapons and how cool it must have been. He talked about how much he would love to have the opportunity to do that, except, well, his religion wouldn’t allow it…
I got a steady infusion of vitriol from family and friends directed at Jehovah Witnesses. How they shouldn’t be allowed to live in this country. After all, they reaped all the benefits of citizenship without participating in their civic duties. That wasn’t right or fair. And, they weren’t even real Christians! The only proper thing for them to do was to pack their bags, sell their homes, and move to the Soviet Union.
Then there’s Colin Kaepernick – a horrible human being if there ever was one.
This guy, I mean, this guy doesn’t even have religion to use as an excuse for not standing for the National Anthem before a preseason football game!
He’s worse than a communist or a Jehovah’s Witness – he’s Satan incarnate.
Everyone is lining up, like in the movie Airplane, to smack him! Here he is, this smug bastard, making millions to play the national sport and he can’t show enough respect to stand during the Anthem. At best we should deport him – he’s adopted after all, do we actually know he was born here? Doesn’t matter – we should revoke his citizenship and send him somewhere else – anywhere else…
But if we’re doing it for him, we shouldn’t let Jehovah Witnesses escape our collective outrage. Round them up, along with the illegals – send them all back to Mexico, or Guatemala, or Canada! Anywhere but here.
Who else doesn’t think like us? Muslims – out (and stay out!). Indians? As my father liked to differentiate – we’re talking dots, not feathers – probably shouldn’t be here. Japanese? Caught us with our pants down 75 years ago – get out! Chinese? Hmm, that’s a tougher one – after all, fried rice and General Tso’s Chicken is pretty good… Okay, the Chinese can stay.
Alright, enough of the witty sarcasm. Time to roll up the sleeves and get serious for a moment.
First a question: Why is the National Anthem played before sporting events? Why is the military involved? There is nothing – NOTHING – inherently governmental or military-related to a sporting event. This is simply an opportunistic way of exploiting patriotism and support for ‘Merica and the military. Let’s welcome back Sgt Snuffy from his tour to Afghanistan ***CLAP CLAP CLAP*** Look there, Airman Jones is surprising his family after 15 months away fighting for your rights ***Cue the applause*** Hey, are you getting a beer? Can you grab me one too? Hot Dogs here! Getchyer Hot Dogs!
You know what I find far more offensive than Kaepernick not standing for the National Anthem? This:
I can’t begin to explain why this pisses me off, but I’ll give it a shot.
This Sergeant understands the deal – that being, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps knowing full well what the risks were and knowing that his purpose was to defend America and our allies from our enemies. He wasn’t defending land, he was defending the rights of citizens and the Constitution of the United States. He was defending Colin Kaepernick’s right to not stand for the Anthem.
However, internet memes being what they are, a sense of outrage invoked that, in a moment, without rational thought, must be shared to express anger or support to cause. After all, this Marine is heroic – the antithesis of Kaepernick.
A couple weeks ago the internet lost its shit when an American gymnast failed to put her hand over heart as the team received its gold medal.
Imagine if the internet was around some 48 years ago – what would have been the social media reaction to this?
How dare these high paid athletes disrespect the National Anthem of America with their Black Power fist pump? OK, they’re amateurs and not paid professionals, but still…
This is simply the outrage du jour, until the next thing to get pissed off about gets presented in meme format and shared.
People need to take a deep pause before mindlessly sharing their pissed-offedness. Think for a moment – those of you who are just so angry that Kaepernick is sitting during the Anthem, would you like Congress to pass a law that requires everyone to stand, hats removed, right hand directly over their heart, feet together, legs straight, no slouching, head held high, proper flag saluting posture anytime the Anthem, or Lee Greenwood, is played?
Heck, if that’s what you want, let’s just elect Hitler for president and be done with it.
While we’re at it – we can have security detain every asshole I see at sporting events that fails to remove their cap, or chit chats with their seatmate, or takes a quick sip of their drink while the Anthem is played.
The First Amendment means something people. Invariably, someone is bound to get offended by someone else expressing their opinion – especially if that opinion doesn’t jive with their own. It’s almost funny how the same people that are so vocal about not being politically correct are the very ones up in arms on this issue. But that Marine knows what’s what. He knows that the freedoms he lost his legs protecting was so that crappy NFL quarterbacks, like Colin Kaepernick, have the freedom to express themselves–just like everyone else in this country.
But if you don’t understand that, maybe we should just string Kaepernick up… Oh wait, those days are behind us…