Tag Archives: National Anthem

It’s ‘phony patriotism’

If the National Football League and the National Basketball Association are able to get their seasons started, we should prepare ourselves for another round of what I call “phony patriotism.”

It will come from those who object to players “taking a knee” while they play the National Anthem. Americans will object to the demonstration of peaceful protest against police brutality. They will assert that kneeling during the Anthem disrespects the flag, the men and women who fight to defend it as well as our way of life.

Donald Trump says he will turn off football games the moment he sees players kneeling. No doubt he will wrap himself in the flag, perhaps even hugging and kissing the cloth stitched in red, white and blue. He’s going to pitch for legislation making flag-burning a violation of federal law.

Except for this bit of history: The U.S. Supreme Court has stood firmly behind what the flag represents. The court has ruled that burning the flag is a form of political protest, which the Constitution protects in the First Amendment.

I want to stipulate once again that I revere the flag. I stand proudly for it. I went to war in defense of what that flag represents. No one who ever seeks to make a political point by burning that flag should do so in front of me.

But the return of pro sports may well be upon us. Major League Baseball has begun — more or less — and yes, players have knelt during the Anthem. The NFL and the NBA seasons are scheduled to begin soon.

I will await the phony patriotism and will dismiss it for what I believe it is: a demonstration of cheap showmanship.

Whether to salute …

There they are, the commander in chief and the first lady, standing for the playing of the National Anthem.

Donald J. Trump is offering a hand salute, which I am sure is going to prompt some discussion about whether it is appropriate for a president who never served in the military to do such a thing.

I’ll weigh in with this: There is no rule against it, which means it is up to individual presidents to decide whether to salute while playing the Anthem. I guess Trump thinks it’s OK. Fine.

It has been established that it’s all right for veterans to salute while they play the Anthem. I choose instead to put my hand over my heart; I am just not comfortable saluting the flag while standing in civilian clothes. This is just me, but I find the sight of a civilian saluting the flag to be off-putting. It’s as if the individual who salutes the flag is trying to call attention to himself or herself, rather than granting full attention to the flag we honor and cherish.

I suppose that would apply to presidents of the United States.

Barack Obama would return a salute when service personnel saluted him; President Obama never served in the military. George W. Bush did the same thing; he did serve in the Air Force Reserve. Same applies to Bill Clinton, who also didn’t serve in the military. All of those men, though, place their hands over their hearts while standing for the National Anthem.

President Bush 41 would salute occasionally. President Reagan would return the salute. Neither of those men, though, would stand while saluting as the Anthem was played.

I am not going to belabor the point, except to say that Donald Trump’s role as commander in chief grants him the opportunity to salute while they play the Anthem. I get, too, that not all veterans agree with his decision to do so.

I suppose I am one of them … but it’s a small thing. The current president’s desire to make a spectacle of himself in that context only highlights the Vietnam War draft-dodging chapter in his life that so many of us find objectionable.

God bless America, warts and all!

My friend David Stevens, a New Mexico newspaper publisher and all-round good guy, has it right.

He said on Facebook he has no intention of protesting anything on the Fourth of July. He intends only to salute the country, even with all its flaws.

I have to concur with him.

I make no apologies to anyone for my love of this nation. I am the grandson of immigrants who came here with virtually nothing. They reared their children — 10 of them all told on both sides of my family lineage. They all enjoyed success and brought families of their own into this world.

I, of course, was one of them.

We hear so much these days about the divisions that run deep throughout our society. I admit they exist. They make me mightily uncomfortable. I don’t like the tone of the political discourse these days. However, not a single aspect of it makes me love this country any less than I always have.

I am a sucker for Independence Day pageantry. I love parades. The patriotic music makes my soul soar.

I’ll admit that I do not stand and salute the Stars and Stripes when they play the National Anthem. I have seen my fellow veterans do that. Such outward public displays of patriotism look to me to be a form of showing off, of making a spectacle of oneself. I prefer instead to take off my cap, put my hand over my heart and sing the anthem loudly … even if it’s more than a bit off tune

The protests over shoe companies, over the late Kate Smith’s “God Bless America,” over athletes “taking a knee”? I take no part in any of that. None of that interests me in the least.

I stand and salute the nation I love without condition. It’s not the perfect nation. It merely is the best one on Earth. I am proud to be one of her sons.

Penalize players for kneeling?

I saw this Twitter message from Donald J. Trump.

He asks whether the NFL player contract requires players to stand with the hand over their heart when the National Anthem is being played.

Then he suggests that players should be suspended for the season without pay if they kneel a second time.

Hmm. Interesting. That kind of reminds of when the boxing authorities denied the late Muhammad Ali the ability to make a living because he refused to enter the U.S. Army; he protested the Vietnam War on religious grounds.

The Supreme Court would rule later, unanimously, that Ali’s suspension from boxing was unconstitutional. He was being denied the right to protest the government.

Aren’t the players protesting local governments’ treatment of African-American offenders? Isn’t there a parallel here between today’s protests and the one that The Greatest made a couple of generations ago?

Trump tells Eagles to stay away? Good grief!

Donald J. Trump’s petulance has reached an astonishing level, although it’s hard any longer to keep up with his guy’s sense of outrage.

He has told the Philadelphia Eagles to stay away Tuesday from the White House. The Super Bowl champions were supposed to show up for a little ceremony, some happy talk from the president about their athletic prowess. They were going to have a few laughs, exchange some good tidings with the sports fan in chief.

Oh, but that “take a knee” matter got in the way. Some of the Eagles were going to boycott the meeting because of Trump’s public shaming of pro football players who kneel during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner” before a game. They protest police conduct and their enforcing the law when it involves African-Americans.

According to NBC News: In an unusual statement early Monday evening, Trump said the Eagles “disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”

The National Football League has just instituted a policy requiring players to stand during the Anthem’s playing. Trump applauded the NFL decision.

Good grief. Now the president has taken it all to a new level by telling the Philadelphia Eagles to, um, just stay away.

I just want to remind the president that the players’ protest has nothing at all to do with honoring the “great men and women of our military.” It has to do with a perception of police brutality. The athletes, as near as I can tell, are protesting peaceably.

And I am quite certain that every single one of them loves our country as much as the president does. They just want to see some changes made.

What is so terrible about that?

Speaking of disrespecting the flag

Now that Roseanne Barr is back in the news thanks to that hideous tweet she fired off about Barack Obama and one of his senior presidential advisers, I thought I would share this video of the comic’s rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

She offered this hideous version of the National Anthem in 1990.

So I am moved to ask whether this is more or less disrespectful of the flag, of the nation, and of our veterans than professional athletes “taking a knee” to protest police treatment of some U.S. citizens.

I’ll inclined to side with those who think Roseanne’s “singing” of the anthem is the more more egregious example of disrespect.

You go, Mo, into the Hall of Fame

West Texas State University alumnus Maurice Cheeks is headed to the Naismith Pro Basketball Hall of Fame, along with some other great former pro basketball players.

I am so happy to see this development, as I have been a fan of Mo Cheeks for a long time. I watched him play ball for years as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. He also coached my hometown NBA Portland Trail Blazers.

I know that Cheeks has a lot of fans here in the Texas Panhandle, where he lit ’em up while playing college ball for the WT Buffaloes. He went through a serious culture shock, coming here from Chicago and learning about life in the Texas Panhandle.

Cheeks will join Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Grant Hill and WNBA legend Tina Thompson in the Hall of Fame.

But … there’s another reason Mo Cheeks has earned many Americans’ undying love and respect. It occurred during the opening ceremony of an NBA game in Portland, where he was coaching the Blazers. A teenager was selected to sing the National Anthem to open the game. Natalie Gilbert did her best … then something happened.

She froze. Natalie forgot the words. Hey, it happens.

Up stepped Coach Cheeks in an astounding display of presence of mind. He did the following, as shown on the video attached here.

Right there is my all time favorite Maurice Cheeks moment. It might be my favorite NBA moment … of all time!

Congratulations, Maurice Cheeks.

Speaking of ‘disrespecting the flag … ‘

Now that the nation has become full of “experts” on how to respect Old Glory, I want to make a plea to my fellow Americans.

Yes, many of us have become engulfed in this controversy over on-the-field protests by professional football players. The president of the United States has yanked the discussion away from its origin: the treatment of some police officers of African-Americans. It’s now become a matter of huge concern over whether those protests disrespect the U.S. Constitution and the Stars and Stripes.

The players kneel quietly, peacefully while bowing their heads during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Why, that’s just damn disrespectful, according to Donald Trump and many millions of other Americans. I’ll say once again that this form of protest isn’t much to my liking, either, but I seek to respect the players’ right to do what they’re doing.

Here’s my plea.

The next time you’re at a public event where they play the National Anthem, be sure to remind the fellow who wears his hat while the song is being played to take it off. Don’t forget to tell the individual who’s playing with his or her cell phone to put the device away. Instruct anyone you see or hear talking, laughing or cutting up while the anthem is being played to be quiet and to pay attention.

Be sure y’all stand at attention, quietly. Look directly at the flag. You are welcome to place your hand over your heart. You also are more than welcome to sing the words of the National Anthem as it’s being played.

If you don’t want to correct your fellow Americans, then just take note of the number of them you see disrespecting the flag.

Then remember what you see when you criticize an athlete who’s trying to make a political statement that has nothing to do with the flag, or the anthem, or the Constitution.

Where’s the national angst over Puerto Rico?

David Axelrod, the man known around the country as Barack H. Obama’s political guru, posted a fascinating tweet today.

He writes: Why isn’t this huge and growing humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico commanding more attention and action? Too busy on anthems and epithets.

I feel ashamed.

An island with 3.5 million U.S.-citizen inhabitants is without electricity. It is lacking potable water. A major dam is being threatened with complete failure; it might collapse under the weight of the water backing up behind it. Residents are homeless. They are desperate. They are hurting.

And what in the name of humanitarian response are we talking about in the United States of America?

Whether professional athletes should stand while they play the National Anthem. The president of the United States is launching endless Twitter tirades against those athletes, calling them SOBs.

Where, indeed, is the national anxiety over the misery that’s befallen our territorial neighbors in the Caribbean?

That’s how you ‘unify’ a nation, Mr. President?

My goodness, Donald Trump. When are you going to get it?

You’ve been handed yet another opportunity to say the right thing. To offer a soothing word of assurance. To tell those who are protesting U.S. government policies toward an important segment of our population that you hear them, that you will work to assuage their concerns.

So, what do you do?

You suggest that National Football League owners and football execs should fire the “sons of b******” who refuse to stand during the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the start of games. Then the NBA champion Golden State Warriors said they oppose your view on the kneeling issue. Your response to them was Classic Trump when you disinvited them to the White House for a ceremony honoring their accomplishment.

You, Mr. President — the Leader of the Free World and head of state of the greatest country on Earth — have used your high, exalted office to score points with your political base. You have inflamed emotions on both sides of this issue.

Have you forgotten, sir, how you pledged to “unify” the nation once you took office? Or how you intended to be president for all Americans? Or how you would spend your waking moments working to “make America great again”?

I know the answer to that. You haven’t forgotten any of that. In my view, they were empty platitudes. You didn’t mean a word of it when you made those pledges.

I am left to wonder out loud, Mr. President: Do you have any idea what you are doing? Do you have a clue about what this high office to which you were elected entails?

You have managed yet again to make an absolute hash of a situation that has spiraled out of control partly because of your divisive, fiery rhetoric that is precisely the wrong thing to provide at a time when we need words of calm assurance.

One of the unwritten rules of your high office means you are obligated to be the voice of reason during difficult circumstances. As you have demonstrated time and time again since taking office, sir, you are failing this test.

I am left, then, to ask yet again: When are you going to get it? Ever?