Tag Archives: National Anthem

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?

NASCAR owners weigh in on anthem controversy

This might be the least surprising development imaginable in the festering controversy over athletes refusing to stand when they hear “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Some key NASCAR heavyweight owners have issued fair warning to their crew members — including drivers — who don’t stand when they play the National Anthem at the start of each automobile race.

You stand or you will get fired! Got it? Good!

This issue has become a serious talking point ever since former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick started a protest this past season by kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem. Kaepernick said he was protesting treatment of African-Americans.

It’s gotten a lot bigger this season. The president of the United States has weighed in, suggesting NFL owners should fire the “sons of b******” who refuse to stand during the Anthem. The NBA champion Golden State Warriors were disinvited to the White House because some of their star players have expressed support for the sideline demonstrations.

The protests are being led by mostly African-American athletes. NASCAR, of course, comes from a different environment altogether. It’s rooted in the Southern culture. Its fan base is overwhelmingly white. As are its drivers, owners and associated crew members.

The different approach to this National Anthem protest business is on stark display. As The Sporting News reported: Hall of Fame driver Richard Petty and current team owner of the No. 43 Cup Series team of Aric Almirola agrees with Trump.

“Anybody that don’t stand up for the anthem oughta be out of the country. Period. What got ’em where they’re at? The United States,” Petty said, adding that any protester within his organization would be fired. 

We live in a tremendously diverse country. Its diversity is being played out right before our eyes as we prepare to watch sporting events — and see how athletes of all stripes react to the sound of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Mr. President, there’s that First Amendment thing

Donald Trump has weighed in on professional football players’ conduct while listening to the National Anthem being played before the start of NFL games.

Fire ’em if they sit or kneel while “The Star Spangled Banner” is being played, he said at a Huntsville, Ala., political rally this week.

According to CNN: Trump said NFL owners should respond to the players by saying, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired!” 

Well …

This whole discussion began a year ago when former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel during the Anthem to protest the country’s treatment of African-American citizens.

Count me as one American who was appalled at Kaepernick’s disrespectful display. I thought he acted stupidly at the time. He is free to express his political views, but I just didn’t like the manner in which he chose to do it.

However, what he did was legal. Not only that, it’s guaranteed under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees citizens the right to protest in any peaceful manner they wish. If they want to burn Old Glory in the town square as a form of political speech, that’s allowed, too. Just don’t do it in my presence.

The president’s urging of NFL owners to fire players who sit during the Anthem ignores the First Amendment guarantee of a cherished civil right.

I could argue that the president simply should keep his trap shut when it concerns such matters, except that the First Amendment damn sure gives him the right to speak his piece, too.

Then again, Donald Trump isn’t just your average Joe. He is the president of the United States of America, which gives his words a lot more weight than those that come from some shmuck blogger out here in Flyover Country.

Oh, the price of living in a free society.

Is it gut-check time for the NFL?

The National Football League needs to re-evaluate a few priorities.

A young man is trying to find a spot with one of the NFL’s professional football teams. He’s a pretty good quarterback. He once led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013.

Then he did something foolish, perhaps even stupid. He decided to kneel during the playing of the National Anthem at the start of football games. Colin Kaepernick was protesting the plight of African-Americans. He decided to make a political statement by declining to stand for the Anthem.

He’s been vilified ever since.

Why the NFL re-evaluation? Well consider a thing or two. The league has allowed actual convicted felons to play football. They’ve been convicted of spousal abuse, sexual abuse, illegal dog fighting, drug peddling. Why, one of the game’s all-time greats — retired linebacker Ray Lewis — once pleaded no contest to a charge in connection with the murder of an individual. He retired recently and has been feted as one of the game’s giants. Huh? Yep.

Kaepernick has been convicted of nothing. He has committed no crime. He merely chose to make a political statement. Yes, I wish he hadn’t done it that way. But that is his prerogative. It’s in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees him the right to do what he did.

Kaepernick was waived by the 49ers. He wants to keep playing football. General managers, team owners and head coaches are afraid of fan reaction, I suppose.

Check out John Feinstein’s excellent column on Kaepernick right here.

Do you remember when a young boxer declined induction into the U.S. Army, citing his religious objection to the Vietnam War? The late Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title in 1967 and then denied the opportunity to fight for a living. He was deprived of more than three prime years of his career. Then in 1970, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Ali had been denied his constitutional right of religious freedom.

Ali returned to the boxing ring and, well, the rest is history.

Colin Kaepernick is facing much of the same recrimination. It is unjust. It’s gut-check time in the NFL.

Immigrant schools Trump on anthem protocol

Ohhh, the irony is so very rich.

There they are: the first family of the United States of America. They’re standing on the Truman Balcony of the White House at the start of the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

The band strikes up the National Anthem. Barron Trump and his mother, first lady Melania Trump, place their hands over their hearts. Then the first lady nudges the right arm of the man to her left, the president, who then places his right hand over his heart.

Why the irony? Well, Donald J. Trump has spoken badly for, oh, the past year or so about immigrants. The illegal immigrants are pouring into the country to commit all manner of crimes, he has said; the legal immigrants are taking jobs from Americans, he adds.

So, what about the immigrant standing next to him on the balcony? His third wife is a native of Slovenia; indeed, two of the president’s three wives have come here from foreign lands.

There’s just a fascinating bit of poetry associated with this brief video and I am pleased to see that the first lady is so attuned to the “optics” of these events.

Take note, Mr. President. I hope he thanked his wife.

Even chumps have the right to speak out

founders

Colin Kaepernick is a bozo. A chump.

He’s become a poster boy of sorts for all kinds of issues stemming from his decision to remain seated during the playing of the National Anthem before a pro football exhibition game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers.

Kaepernick, a quarterback for the 49ers, said he can’t stand in support of a flag that represents a country that oppresses “people of color.” Kaepernick is half black and half white.

Hmm. OK. I wasn’t aware of Kaepernick’s social conscience. I don’t recall him ever speaking out before. But I guess one has to start somewhere. Thus, Kaepernick chose to make this profound political statement in this highly visible fashion.

I just want to make one comparison with Kaepernick’s demonstration. He reminds me of the flag burners, the goofballs who think burning Old Glory in public to protest this or that cause is going to win them support.

It won’t. It hardly ever does.

However, it’s protected “speech.” The U.S. Constitution allows Americans to make such statements against government policy. Kaepernick chose to mount his grievance with a lousy demonstration of defiance.

He’s not going to win many converts to his cause any more than the flag burners manage to make friends and allies when they do the things they do to protest government policy.

The Constitution, though, gives even chumps like Colin Kaepernick the right to speak out as he has done.

I honor and cherish that right, even if I detest the way some of us exercise it.

Pro QB sits during National Anthem; a big deal? Yes, but …

the New York Giants the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on October 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The Giants won 26-3. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

I’ve been stewing for a couple of days over the news of Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the playing of the National Anthem prior to the start of a pro football exhibition game.

Kapernick has been reviled, vilified and called everything but a traitor for refusing to stand.

I am not going to go that far.

I wish the San Francisco 49ers quarterback had stood and paid proper respect to the flag and to the nation where he has earned a handsome living playing a kids’ game. He said he sat because he couldn’t support a nation that oppresses “people of color.”

He could have written an essay for newspapers, he could have tweeted his displeasure with American policy toward “people of color,” he could posted something on Facebook.

But no-o-o-o. He wanted to make a spectacle of himself in a stadium in front of tens of thousands of spectators.

Kaepernick obviously wasn’t talking about himself, as he’s hardly been oppressed, except perhaps by his coaches who cannot decide whether he should be the starting quarterback.

Critics have noted that in many other countries around the world, Kaepernick would have been arrested and jailed for failing to stand while the band played a national anthem.

Let’s understand this: Kaepernick is an American citizen. He refused to stand in this country, which has no law requiring Americans to get off their duffs — if they are able — while we play the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

So, he made a political statement. He’s not the first one to do so. He won’t be the last.

Sure, he’ll likely pay a price down the line. My hunch is that sports apparel shops won’t be selling many 49ers jerseys with Kaepernick’s name and No. 7 from this day forward.

The fact remains, though, that our nation’s belief in free speech and political expression gives all of us — even well-known pro athletes — the right to make fools of themselves.

Debate on anthem etiquette expands

flag

Now that we’re discussing — at least for the moment — how one should stand while singing the National Anthem, allow me this observation.

It’s been brought to my attention that as of 2009, it’s OK for military veterans to deliver a salute while the anthem is being played.

This issue came to light after U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas didn’t place her hand over her heart while the anthem was playing as she and her teammates accepted the Olympic gold medal in Rio.

Douglas apologized for offending those who were offended. She didn’t need to do so, in my view.

Then someone reminded me of a change in anthem etiquette that now allows vets to snap a salute while the song is played.

I guess my friend was telling me that because he knows I’m a veteran.

Well, that’s nice of him to do so.

I remember how to salute properly. I just don’t like doing it while standing in civilian attire.

Why? It looks pretentious to me.

Several months ago I watched a fellow stand and salute a television while the anthem was being played during a televised athletic event. I guess the gentleman thought he was making an appropriate statement about how much he loves our country by rendering a hand salute in a public area.

That’s all fine.

I love our country, too. I can’t help but wonder: Would I have to produce my Veterans Administration card to prove I’m eligible to salute?