Class Warfare Blog

September 8, 2016

R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find Out What It Means … To Colin Kaepernick

Filed under: Culture — Steve Ruis @ 9:27 pm
Tags: , , ,

A member of the San Francisco Forty-Niners NFL football club, Colin Kaepernick, has released a firestorm of criticism and discussion by refusing to stand for the singing of the national anthem when it is sung before each and every football game (and baseball game and basketball game and …). He did this without announcement all through this year’s pre-season competitions and was noticed only toward the end of that series of games. When asked why he was doing such a thing, he replied that he couldn’t respect a country that allowed such unequal treatment of its black and brown citizens.

Of course, the conversation got blown all out of proportion, rarely getting back to the point Mr. Kaepernick was trying to make. Some thought he was disrespecting the fans, others thought he was disrespecting the team owners, his teammates, even members of the armed forces. Of course, Mr. Kaepernick’s statement that he was disrespecting the country’s acceptance of rampant inequality as a whole went mostly uncommented on.

I would like to take a step back (you knew that was coming) and ask: why are we playing the national anthem at the start of every damned sporting event in the country?”

These are not political events. They are not sponsored by political parties or the government or any agency that is making political contributions, suggesting policy, or playing a political role at all. So, why do we begin purely social events with the playing of the national anthem?

“Why are we playing the national anthem
at the start of every damned sporting event in the country?

And why is standing up required? Why is taking off one’s hat required? Why is holding one’s hand over one’s heart required? I am sure that someone will claim that we should take every opportunity to give thanks for our country, but I find that puzzling because we are the country, so we are thanking ourselves? We are not giving thanks for our veterans or the sacrifices made by previous generations, we have other occasions at which we thank them.

And why is conforming to the demands of society during the playing of the national anthem count as an act or statement of patriotism? Surely this is mere symbolism and far from a real act of patriotism.

There is also the danger that if you repeat a ritual too often and make it mundane, it loses its power, such as asking our school children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every fracking school day (I remember pledging allegiance to the United States of Asparagus and other slight lyrical modifications.) A comedian, Robert Klein I believe, had a bit in which he auditioned replacement lyrics (“While we are standing here waiting for the ball game to start, … (I had lovely musical notes inserted here but the ferdlinger WP site won’t accept them)” was one of my favorites.)

So, what is so damned important about a song played at sporting events for quite nebulous reasons. (The actual reason, I am sure, is that once the playing became commonplace, no team owner wanted to break with the practice.)

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15 Comments »

  1. And now look at the firestorm of online abuse and death threats a gold-medal-winning US Olympic athlete received who did stand up for the anthem but didn’t put her hand on her heart . . . just as many athletes from all countries, including the US, don’t. But in this instance her (white) team-mates all happened to do so, and so she was vilified by the faux-patriotic boneheads as a traitor.

    I keep trying to tell myself that it’s just that these vicious bastards are “low-information” or “undereducated,” but really it isn’t that. They’re the direct descendants of the trash whites who populated the lynch mobs: unhappy with their lot (fair enough) but too intellectually lazy to try to do anything to improve that, instead taking violent “revenge” against anyone they perceived as lower down the pecking order.

    And, as you so rightly say, efforts to improve that situation aren’t improved by the requirement for participants to mindlessly sing along with the anthem at sporting and other events. Imagine the players on Broadway had to do so before every performance? We’d rightly denounce that as nationalist/fascist. So why is it any different when athletes and schoolchildren are compelled to do so?

    Comment by realthog — September 8, 2016 @ 10:24 pm | Reply

    • I think this has more to do with the unleashing of sentiments that were already there by the ability to communicate … anonymously … via the internet. These people have always been there, they just were not visible and we could not hear them. They were mumbling things under their breath while smoking cigarettes in some bar somewhere.

      It is clear that African-Americans get singled for special approbation which is ironic. What did they do to deserve the hatred? They had the misfortune to have been enslaved in such numbers that in the American South, white people lived in constant fear that the more numerous slaves would rise up and kill them in their beds. This fear, and the exclusion of slaves from society, led to hatred that continues to this day. And those haters are all over this country, they just aren’t Southern bubbas. So, I believe it is inappropriate to characterize as uneducated (they often are, but …) or under-informed (they often are, but …) but are people who are nursing a grudge, a grudge that was handed down to them as memes. These same people vote against aid programs for poor people because “those people” dodn’t deserve the help. Those slaves didn’t deserve their lot or the hatred they received (nor do their descendants), but the haters don’t see the irony. They see little more than their hate and they look for any tiny spot to insert it into what was once a glorious open dialogue.

      On Thu, Sep 8, 2016 at 10:24 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — September 9, 2016 @ 8:01 am | Reply

  2. “So, what is so damned important about a song played at sporting events for quite nebulous reasons”

    In the immortal words of Tevya, “T-R-A-D-I-T-I-O-N” Nothing more. Should we eliminate it. I could care less. I stand if its being played but I never sing it or put my hand over my heart. I served in the military so I have a right to exercise my freedom as I see fit, provided it hurts no one. I feel all others have the same right.

    It could have a unifying effect with a diverse crowd but if that lasts only for the short period of time they are in the stadium then not sure there is any lasting value to that notion.

    Comment by lbwoodgate — September 9, 2016 @ 7:24 am | Reply

    • But it is a form of soft lie, that by doing these “traditional” things, one is being patriotic. And if we look carefully, these things are relatively recent, consider the playing of God Bless America during the seventh inning of baseball games. That goes all the way back to 2001.

      On Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 7:24 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — September 9, 2016 @ 7:50 am | Reply

      • Oh I never suspected there wasn’t a marketing motive behind such displays of “patriotism” There isn’t much left in this country that can’t be considered for the making of a profit. But we needn’t let the patriotic zealots claim everything for themselves and in so doing isolate those who don’t want to play their game. We can take these events and soft lies and make them our own to the chagrin of right wing nabobs who use them to puff up their own shallow character. Or not.

        I think we can get bogged down with these minor differences as we do so often on many wedge issues. This is what contributes to the divisiveness in this country and we are better off by laughing at and even mocking those who would make mountains out of molehills. Let them try to justify their petty grievances. It usually contradicts their arguements when extrapolated across the social and political spectrum, portraying themselves as mental midgets rather than some bigger than life character they think they see themselves as.

        Getting down off of the soap box now.

        Comment by lbwoodgate — September 9, 2016 @ 8:47 am | Reply

        • I love it when you get up on your soap box … saves me the trouble of doing so!

          Of course, we agree. The bigger problem is the blah, blah, blah is drowning out the civil discourse that might, just might, get us somewhere.

          On Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 8:47 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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          Comment by Steve Ruis — September 9, 2016 @ 8:52 am | Reply

  3. Yeah, if any team or league dares to stop playing the anthem now, they’ll be ripped apart for being unpatriotic, just as Kaepernick was.

    Comment by List of X — September 9, 2016 @ 8:44 am | Reply

  4. Why indeed are you playing the anthem at every game? Excuse me, but it’s stupid.

    Comment by john zande — September 9, 2016 @ 9:58 am | Reply

    • I do not excuse you, it is stupid! (Excuse me I had to close the window because the chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A” were making it hard to think.)

      Do other countries do this? Please tell me “no.”

      On Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 9:58 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — September 9, 2016 @ 10:32 am | Reply

      • No.

        You’re lucky to get Australians to stand for the anthem during test matches.

        Comment by john zande — September 9, 2016 @ 11:26 am | Reply

        • Ah, thank you. I don’t appreciate being a member of a crazy nation, but it is reassuring that somewhere in the world people are a tad more sensible.

          On Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 11:26 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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          Comment by Steve Ruis — September 9, 2016 @ 11:32 am | Reply

  5. Anthem Schmanthem. More power to Kappy. THAT is what freedom is all about.

    I can vaguely remember way back when in the time machine, when I was a lad in school reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, for several years it seemed the right thing to do, then one day it dawned on me this was bullshit. I would stand for the pledge but stopped reciting it. If anyone noticed I didn’t get any guff for it.

    Comment by shelldigger — September 10, 2016 @ 5:57 am | Reply

    • Stop that. school is not for you to learn to think for yourself. School is for indoctrination, acculturation of immigrants, learn skills your employers need, that sort of thing.

      On Sat, Sep 10, 2016 at 5:57 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — September 10, 2016 @ 7:54 am | Reply

  6. I am beginnin’ to suspect that yer one of them pointy headed intellectuools, ain’t yuh?

    Comment by Steve Ruis — September 10, 2016 @ 8:07 pm | Reply


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