A “Saint’s Excuse” Classic: Athletes Forced To Endorse Positions They May Not Support

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF), aka U.S. Soccer, announced last week that the U.S. Men’s National Team and the U.S. Women’s National Team will wear rainbow-colored numbers during June, LGBT pride month, saying in part,

“In recognition of LGBTQ Pride month in June, U.S. Soccer will activate a number of initiatives in partnership with the You Can Play Project”…As the highlight, the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams will wear pride-inspired rainbow numbers during the June friendlies. The MNT will debut the look for the World Cup Qualifying tune-up against Venezuela on June 3 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The WNT will wear the kits in away friendlies against Sweden on June 8, and Norway three days later.”

The league, in short, is forcing players to make a political statement and support a cause they may, in fact, not support. Ethics foul. This is an abuse of the players’ autonomy and freedom of though.and speech. It is also unfair, and disrespectful of them as individuals. Other professional sports are equally abusive. Over Memorial Day weekend, for example, all Major League Baseball teams are wearing military-themed uniforms, caps and equipment, with stars symbolizing the five branches of the armed services on the sleeves. The uniforms will be auctioned off with the proceeds donated to veterans’ charities. It is a lovely gesture by MLB, but what if a player doesn’t want to support the military? What if he’s a pacifist? What if he objects to American militarism or the defense budget? Apparently none of this  matters to the teams or their sport.

This abuse of power, which is exactly what it is, is fueled by The Saint’s Excuse, #13 on the Rationalizations List, also known as “It’s for a good cause.”

Nor can players decline to participate in these forced political and social statements on principle, at least not without serious repercussions. If a U.S. Soccer player refused to knuckle under to the mandatory gay pride display, he or she would be immediately labelled a bigot by the media, members of the public, and perhaps team members. A baseball player who refused to salute the armed forces would be branded un-American. In either case, the principled player would be prevented from taking the field, entailing a loss of pay and probably a suspension.

This particular form of oppressive and unethical employment practice was the catalyst for one of my first ethics stands, when I worked at Georgetown University. Te university’s practice was to formally and aggressively  urge all of its employees to pledge to a national charity drive that the school supported. The school wanted to make a flashy pledge every year, and not only did my direct superior pressure me to give at a proscribed level, but I was also told that I was expected to pressure my staff into participating as well.

I refused. I said that my decision regarding what charities I chose to contribute to was my own. I said that it was inappropriate and an abuse of power for my supervisor to pressure me to make a pledge, as it was an implied threat and coercion. (He had told me that his supervisor would judge him according to how successful he was at strong-arming his staff.) I also said that I would not solicit my staff, for the same reason that I was not joining the university in its favored charity. I worked there several more years, and I was never approached about the charity drive again. Neither was anyone under my supervision.

The same issue arose when I was working for a large Washington, D.C. association several years later. The executive director was on the board of Christmas in April, a local charity, and made it clear to the staff that we all were expected to give up a Saturday and chip in as the organization cleaned up an inner city playground and park, because  board members traditionally recruited their organization to participate in the charity’s projects. Again, I declined. He pressed me for an explanation, and I told him that I had my own non-profit groups that I volunteered my time for, and that he had no right to volunteer my time for me. I offered him what I felt was a fair and reasonable compromise: if he would do tech work on one of my local theater productions on an hour for hour basis, I’d be happy to give up a Saturday for his pet cause. He declined, and wasn’t nice about it.

He also hated my guts for the rest of our relationship.

No, this is not like requiring Colin Kaepernick to stand for the National Anthem when he has decided that the United States oppresses black citizens. Participating in that long-standing tradition at games was a well-understood obligation when he signed to be an NFL player; it wasn’t a political or social position imposed on him after the fact.

Neither sports teams, nor corporations, nor charities nor the government have any business or right to dictate what their employees’ speech, beliefs, loyalties or passions are. As I found out, once one employee takes that stand, other employees realize that they shouldn’t submit to this u7nethiacl use of power either.

That was another reason that executive director hated my guts.

And now, Leslie Gore…

47 thoughts on “A “Saint’s Excuse” Classic: Athletes Forced To Endorse Positions They May Not Support

  1. Reminds me of when I was younger and a national charity, which shall remain nameless, was always the pet project of the entire community – a giant thermometer was placed at the city limits to track giving, etc. Everyone received a pledge card in their mailbox, and we were expected to return the card regardless of whether we pledged or not. It was a charity I didn’t wish to support at the time, and the building rep in charge of the drive was a little surprised that I was uncomfortable returning my blank pledge card (all of which were pre-labeled with our names, so it was obvious who had not contributed). I’m not sure how instrumental I was in the final outcome personally, but within a year or two we were no longer required to return cards if we were not participating, so I’m sure there were many conversations like mine throughout the district!

    • Very much on point, Keith. I think most people don’t even realize that they are being, in effect, bullied because “it’s for a good cause.” Nor do the charity bullies realize they are doing anything wrong.

  2. These things become such tangled webs: my workplace had a promotion where you “contributed” five or ten dollars to some thing in exchange for the right to wear jeans on a certain day. The question I sent up the line was, “What about the contractors who are among us, but don’t actually work for the firm. They shouldn’t be dressed conspicuously different that day.” The answer, which shouldn’t have surprised me was, “Oh, we’ll take their money.” It wasn’t obvious to our HR staff that at point of contact this constituted shaking down our vendors for kickbacks.

  3. I taught ninth grade English and Religion (Old Testament) in a Catholic high school in Miami, Florida where the annual raffle was the big fund raiser. I passed out the books of raffle tickets to my home room and collected the proceeds as the kids brought in sold books of ticket stubs. I guess I wasn’t very enthusiastic about the project. My home room was evidently at the bottom in terms of results. One morning, one of the senior priests on the faculty, sort of a de facto dean of students who was a popular guy because he was young, trim, good looking and deemed cool among the kids, swooped in unannounced during home room and proceeded to essentially berate the kids about raffle ticket sales. The phrase “laid a guilt trip on them” hardly describes it. It was classic Catholic guilt served up in generous portions, which these kids had been getting it for most of their young lives. Predictably, the kids’ heads all lowered, their shoulders slumped as all the early morning energy drained out of the room. When prompted, they said they would all “do better.” It was horrifying.

    • Maybe there should be a sub-rationalization: “The Saint’s Shake-Down.” It’s a variation on the scam Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have been running for years. “If you don’t hire my ‘foundation’ to do your company’s diversity training, we’ll boycott your company as racist.”

  4. I read one of the number of good articles appearing these days explaining why much of the country has bristled under progressive dictates. One element mentioned was the notion that everyone had to not only not discriminate against LGBT people, but they had to celebrate them and everything they did and believed or be deemed bigots. This rainbow uniform thing is a good example of the over reach and its unintended consequence. Whatever happened to live and let live?

    • A bit different, Bob. I’m pretty sure the standard contract obligates the players to cooperate with MLB sponsorship deals. Players have their own endorsement contracts, so Nike, at least, won’t be foisted on them.

  5. So, if using your logic about Colin Kaepernick holds, it’s a problem that takes care of itself by next year. At that point, new players are on notice that they may be forced to wear outfits that support LBQT causes, and they can decide to play for that league, or not.

    And, thinking about this a little further, was the NFL unethical the first year it requested players stand for the National Anthem, but is now granted a pass through the passage of time? Otherwise isn’t all the castigation of Kaepernick boil down to contrived consent/he should have seen it coming?

    • If someone assents to the bullying in year #1, they lay themselves open to bullying in year two. All professional sports teams have included standing for the National Anthem for many decades, and when it started, there were no jackasses who thought it was cool to reject a moment of respect to the nation. Being a patriot was not considered a political position, much less one that any normal citizen would reject. That was a liberal invention in the 60s.

      I repeat: that is different in kind from being forced to endorse a cause that is not your own, or that your religion might oppose, or that competes with one’s own beliefs or goals.

      That also is different from Kaepernick’s protest. A soccer player who made an anti-gay protest on the field would be, and should be, disciplined.

      • What about a player who refused to wear the LBTQ-friendly uniform, and just wore the standard uniform instead? While I disagree strenuously with the idea that standing for a song that extols the virtue of slavery gives any indication of one’s level of patriotism, what about a foreign-born player who indeed did not feel patriotic towards the United States?

        Kaepernick did not enact any protest, he just refused to stand. Jehovah Witnesses and the like have been refusing to stand for the pledge/anthems since they were found in the early 1900’s. The anthem and the Pledge have always been a political exercise, otherwise, why do it in the first place? It’s just a mindless one that we have taken completely for granted, so that we don’t question it very often.

        • standing for a song that extols the virtue of slavery

          The SSB? This is such a ridiculous thing to write that your credibility gets a two day suspension. I’m not wasting my time.

          • It is quite indisputable that the Star Spangled Banner celebrates slavery and the death of slaves who were trying to free themselves.

            So when Key penned “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,” he was taking great satisfaction in the death of slaves who’d freed themselves. His perspective may have been affected by the fact he owned several slaves himself.

            With that in mind, think again about the next two lines: “And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave / O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

            The reality is that there were human beings fighting for freedom with incredible bravery during the War of 1812. However, “The Star-Spangled Banner” glorifies America’s “triumph” over them — and then turns that reality completely upside down, transforming their killers into the courageous freedom fighters.

            Like most things slavery-related in the United States, we tend to have convenient amnesia and gloss over things that make us feel uncomfortable.

            • Bullshit. That was neither the message or the purpose of the anthem, and that is not the verse that is sung as “The national Anthem”. Spare us the left’s America-hate. The only people who regard the song as “celebrating slavery” are anti-America propagandists.

              “Hireling and slave” refer to the enemies of the US and their allies, not US slaves. The War of 1812 was not about slavery, nor were slaves fighting the US. Was Key also denigrating the employed in the country, as in “hirelings”? Freeman are citizens free from the King’s tyranny, as it was feared that GB would again dominate the US. Hence the theme of the song: our freedoms and liberty was under an existential threat from the lackeys controlled by a foreign despot (slaves and hirelings). The interpretation you naturally gravitate to makes no sense in the context of the event.

              Your source’s interpretation makes no sense, even if Key was literally referring to turncoat slaves. Some slaves were fighting against the US with the British, and it is pro slavery to celebrate their defeat? What would have been politically correct in that view, for Key to cheer those fighting against the US?

              The fact is that nobody knows what Key meant, but historians with an agenda and leftists that want to impugn the anthem focus on those lines. It is an old controversy, rendered moot by the the fact that the verse isn’t sung.

              • Your source’s interpretation makes no sense, even if Key was literally referring to turncoat slaves.

                I don’t even know how one can be a “turncoat slave”, except maybe, by turning in other slaves. But otherwise, fighting against people who are trying to keep you imprisoned just makes one a smart person. Slaves don’t owe their putative “masters” any loyalty.

                But the British hired contingents of escaped slaves to fight against the United States, promising to free them if they prevailed. This, presumably, were the “slaves” that Key was railing against in his song. The United States demanded the slaves back after the war, but the British, to their limited credit, refused to hand them over, and resettled them elsewhere.

                Hence the theme of the song: our freedoms and liberty was under an existential threat from the lackeys controlled by a foreign despot (slaves and hirelings). The interpretation you naturally gravitate to makes no sense in the context of the event.

                “Our freedom “? I think it is the inherent cognitive dissonance that causes so much anger when us “leftists/progressives/ anti-Americanists” point out the problematic construction and history behind things we are taught to blindly revere. From the slaves’ point of view of course, they were literally fighting for their own freedom, and Key and cohorts were the ones standing in the way of that freedom. The song has an ugly history, and perhaps more people should take the time to thoughtfully approach it, exam it, and see if it is something they want to stand for or not, rather than hand-wave it away because of the cognitive dissonance.

              • “Hireling and slave” refer to the enemies of the US and their allies, not US slaves. The War of 1812 was not about slavery, nor were slaves fighting the US.

                Au Contraire, escaped slaves were. In (relatively) large numbers. See the Colonial Marines.

                Wiki’s pretty good – follow the hyperlinks to primary sources.

                “The second, more substantial, Corps served from 18 May 1814 until 20 August 1816. The greater part of the Corps was stationed on the Atlantic coast, with a smaller body occupying a fort on the Gulf coast in Florida. Recruits were accepted from among escaped slaves who had already gained their freedom on coming into British hands and who were unwilling to join West India Regiments. The establishment of the force sparked controversy at the time, the arming of former slaves representing a psychological threat to the slave-owning society of the Americas). As a consequence, the two senior officers of the Corps in Florida (George Woodbine and Edward Nicolls) were demonised in Niles’ Register for their association with the Corps and inducing slave revolt.

                At the end of the War of 1812, as the British post in Florida was evacuated the Corps’ Florida detachment was paid off and disbanded. Although several men accompanied the British to Bermuda, the majority continued to live in settlements around the wooden stockade the Corps had garrisoned (which had become a symbol of slave insurrection). This legacy of a community of armed fugitive slaves with a substantial arsenal would lead to tensions with the United States of America. Those remaining later took part in the Battle of Negro Fort in July 1816, after which they joined the southward migration of Seminoles and African Americans escaping the American advance. Members of the Colonial Marine battalion who were deployed on the Atlantic coast withdrew from American territory. They would continue in British service as garrison-in-residence at Bermuda until 1816, when the unit was disbanded and the ex-Marines resettled on Trinidad.”

                See Hoskins:
                “Although they were of African descent and formerly enslaved, the British gave the Colonial Marines the same training, uniforms, pay, and pensions as the Royal Marines. A very interesting part of the story is the Colonial Marines not only exposed the hypocrisies of American liberty, but the British provided proof, when treated equally, these men could perform equally or better than their Caucasian counterparts.”

                • And “hireling”? I don’t buy it, nor does it make sense as a lyric in the context of the song. The war was in great part about the British seamen being “slaves,” including impressed Americans. And again, even if the lyric refers to slaves, it shows antipathy to anti-American slaves, as in “Traitor” slaves. It cannot be read as an endorsement of slavery, as Deery asserted.

                • …Although preceded by a lengthy program of musical performances, the anthem itself got short shrift. As usual, only the familiar opening verse was sung, because of various ideological stumbling blocks in subsequent verses — most especially the third, with its fervent hope that

                  No refuge could save the hireling and slave
                  From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.

                  For myself, the words always evoke a glow of family pride, because Key’s malign desire that fleeing slaves should find no refuge was directly inspired by the actions of my distinguished relative Admiral Sir George Cockburn of the Royal Navy. Two hundred years ago this August, he fought his way to the White House at the head of an army partly composed of slaves he had freed, armed, and trained and torched the place, along with the Capitol and much of official Washington. In the course of a two-year campaign, he rescued as many as 6,000 slaves, and despite Key’s hopeful verse, not to mention angry demands from the U.S. government, he sailed them away to freedom.

                  Note the article predates the Kaepernick controversy by a few years. I think it is pretty clear that when Key wrote “slaves”, he meant, well, slaves. And yes, he was angry and affronted that these good for nothing slaves would dare fight for their freedom by aligning with the British. It certainly complicates and renders ironic the whole “land of the free” lines that repeat throughout the song.

                  • Is this debunked old wives’ tale still going around?

                    “Hireling” is an archaic word from Shakespeare’s time that was familiar in Francis Scott Key’s day because of its use in the 1611 King James Bible. In the famous “Good Shepherd” discourse, from John chapter 10:

                    —“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

                    But he that is an HIRELING, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

                    The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
                    I am the good shepherd…”

                    By 1814, the word “hireling” was out of use except as an homage to this Biblical analogy. Thus, the word had gone from simply meaning “wage earner” to a derogatory term akin to a flunky, a lackey, or someone only interested in one’s pay, as opposed to a “good shepherd” who actually cares for the sheep.

                    Key’s reasons for using the phrase “hireling and slave” was unmistakable to his contemporaries, who were biblically literate. “Hirelings” represents people who were not personally invested in their cause, but simply performing a job. The British army consisted of many, many impressed soldiers and mercenaries. Key’s imagery throughout the ENTIRE song is that of people defending and fighting for their homes and personal freedom, as opposed to the British forces consisting of a bunch of hired hands and forced labor.

                    The colonists were willing to lay down their lives for their homeland. The British were not, because their soldiers were just “hirelings” (just doing a job) or “slaves” (forced to fight against their will.) Freed American slaves on the British side have no part in the story told by Key, because they actually run counter to his narrative.

                    For goodness’ sake, just look at the line DIRECTLY preceding the controversial “hireling and slave” line:

                    “And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
                    That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
                    A home and a country should leave us no more!
                    Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.”

                    Were American slaves, fighting back against their oppressors, the ones who “vauntingly swore” to eradicate America? Key is painting a picture of powerful oppressors (not slaves) using their money and brute force to whip up an army.

                    The most obvious and likely interpretation is that this song has nothing at all to do with American slaves on the British side. The statement “but he said SLAVES, not impressed sailors, so I think he meant literal slaves!” is exactly the sort of thing that appeals to the ignorant; the type of people who watch “13th” on Netflix or “Zeitgeist” on YouTube and consider themselves, like, totally woke and stuff.

                    Press gangs enslaving sailors to fight for Britain were one of the reasons the War of 1812 started in the first place.

                    The choice of the word “slaves” by Key rather than “impressed sailors” is the obvious one, simply because it rhymes better.

                    • Except it hasn’t been debunked, as you assert. This is from an article that claims that the Star Spangled Banner is not racist. https://www.google.com/amp/s/mobile.nytimes.com/2016/09/03/arts/music/colin-kaepernick-national-anthem.amp.html

                      The social context of the song comes from the age of slavery, but the song itself isn’t about slavery, and it doesn’t treat whites differently from blacks. The reference to slaves is about the use, and in some sense the manipulation, of black Americans to fight for the British, with the promise of freedom.

                      The expert quoted, who devotes his time and work to studying the anthem, doesn’t bother trying with the extraordinarily weak defense that slave doesn’t mean slave, but impressed soldiers. He at least goes for the “it’s a product of its time” angle.

                      Your defense does not make logical sense. I’ll grant that “hireling” probably means mercenaries. But if the war was over those poor American seaman impressed against their will into the British Navy, why is condemning those same people in his lyrics? Why would he celebrate their deaths? It is far more likely that slave means slave, and Key is railing against those escaped slaves who were trying to acquire their own freedom by fighting for the British. That’s probably just my ignorance talking though, no doubt from watching 13th too many times.

                    • Nice job diverting the topic. The issue was forced speech and political positions. You got on this dubious high horse to retroactively justify Kaepernick, whose protest against the Anthem was obnoxious, incoherent, never intelligently justified, and harmful to his sport team and league without accomplish anything positive at all, except for spawning clones that also accomplished nothing positive except division (I recognize that progressives like division.)

                      As we have seen for a long time, the reflex, go to default argument whenever logic and facts fail is “racism.” This claim about the SSB is contrived and of academic interest only even if your interpretation of those lyrics is correct, and since the author’s intent and meaning was never stated, that cannot be determined, ever, absent the sudden discovery of letter by Key in an attic someplace. Let me succinctly put this in perspective:

                      1. The National Anthem became the National Anthem because of its history, because it is stirring, and because of the lyrics and story told in the first verse, and only the first verse. Nobody sings the third verse at sporting events. If one American in a million can recite the third verse without notes, I’d be surprised. It is a footnote and trivia, like the lyrics to the “Bonanza” theme song or Star Trek theme, or one of the late and unsingable extra verses to The First Noel.

                      2. Singing the first verse doesn’t glorify slavery, because the first verse doesn’t mention anything related to slavery. Neither does it honor the character of the author, or encourage alcohol abuse because the tune was a drinking song. Only those with an ulterior motive of promoting denigration of patriotism and patriotic traditions claim otherwise, and it is pretty transparent,

                      3. You can’t use the third verse to justify Kaepernick because it is 99.999% certain that CK knew bupkis about the third verse, if he even knew there was one. His explanation for his boycott was obviously desperate for substance, since one of his reasons was that he was indignant that police in shootings of African Americans should be suspended without pay, as in “be presumed guilty,” and “have their due process and equal protection rights taken away.” Though contrived, the third verse excuse at least makes a little sense, other than the fact that the third verse is not what we mean when we sing or speak about the National Anthem. Why didn’t he justify his grandstanding with this tactic?

                      Because he doesn’t know what the words are to that verse either.

                      But keep spinning: it makes a nice breeze.

                    • Threads evolve, though I only had a throwaway line about the racism of the Star Spangled Banner, you are the one who thought that the claim was so ludicrous that I should be banned over it. So I supplied evidence showing that it was not a ludicrous claim, and this particular sub-thread went from there. I now know more about the war if 1812 than I ever wanted to, so at least there’s that, I suppose.

                      Being forced to stand to honor The Star Spangled Banner is a form of political speech, albeit one that we mostly agree with. The idea that “its patriotic, therefore it can’t be political!” is a nonstarter; the two things are not mutually exclusive, in fact they are usually closely intertwined. And the other idea that if no one else complained before, therefore it’s ok seems more like a weak ethical rationalization than anything else.

                      I have a difficult time seeing how one can logically condemn athletes being forced to ratify political and social speech that they don’t agree with, and then condemn an athlete who does not go along with conduct you consider unethical. You even point out the difficult situation an athlete might find themselves in if they go against popular sentiment in this way…like Kaepernick.

                      For the record, I don’t think it matters much, for the purposes of this analysis why Kaepernick refuses to endorse the Star Spangled Banner, just that it is a political/social reason and that the Star Spangled Banner is being used as an outward demonstration of patriotism. I don’t see why, under your analysis, his conduct is unethical, as you stated many times, but another athlete, who refused to wear the gay pride shirt or the military theme outfit, wouldn’t be.

                    • There is no clear-cut answer to the question of what exactly Key was thinking of when he wrote the “hireling and slave” stanza, because Key never explained it and he is now dead. It doesn’t matter which historians either one of us trump up to take any particular position.

                      The most likely interpretation, as I explained pretty thoroughly, doesn’t involve any specific invoking of Black Americans fighting for Britain at all. Impressed sailors were themselves literal slaves, so I’m not sure why you would assume that “slaves” couldn’t refer to them. It’s the most obvious exegesis.

                      One must draw meaning out of a text, not read one’s own personal thoughts and experiences into it.

                    • Cockburn’s orders read:

                      “Let the landings you make be more for the protection of the desertion of the Black Population than with a view to any other advantage. . . . The great point to be attained is the cordial Support of the Black population. With them properly armed & backed with 20,000 British Troops, Mr. Madison will be hurled from his throne.”

                      “I have no hesitation,” Cockburn wrote to a superior officer, “in pronouncing that the whole of the shores and towns within this vast bay, not excepting the capital itself, will be wholly at your mercy, and subject if not to be permanently occupied, certainly to be successively insulted [raided] or destroyed at your pleasure.”

                      From https://harpers.org/archive/2014/09/washington-is-burning/2/

                      “This ruthless scheme, which Cockburn was to follow to the letter, would have been absolutely impossible without first-class intelligence operatives to alert his raiding parties to enemy forces and guide them around the tortuous shoreline. Fortunately, volunteers for such a mission soon appeared: slaves. At first they were single men, eagerly welcomed by the British as the pilots and guides they needed. But the numbers quickly grew as entire families made their way to the ships. At this point the invaders made a crucial decision: they would accept any slave — man, woman, or child — and guarantee they would not be handed back to their owners.”

                      Keys’ words have been interpreted figuratively rather than literally since at least 1870. So much so that most intelligent, educated Americans – I’m looking at you, Jack – firmly believe that “The War of 1812 was not about slavery, nor were slaves fighting the US. ” and have such a strong knee-jerk reaction against such “ridiculous anti-American bullshit” that they don’t bother studying the facts.

                      The raiding and vandalism of the US NE coast was an act of political terror, designed to undermine pro-war jingoistic sentiment. The burning of the White House by Colonial Marines, and the attack on Baltimore, Keys’ home town, would not have been possible without the help of sympathetic slaves, a resistance movement deliberately fostered by the enemies of the United States purely for their own political purposes.

                      It defies credulity that Keys wasn’t aware of this, he was in the thick of it after all, and a slave owner himself (and later fervent anti-abolitionist).

                      Nonetheless… Isaac’s interpretation may be true. Certainly it’s the most plausible one to those who haven’t studied the events in Maryland in 1812. Moreover, song was designed to be OTT, an inspiring propagandistic anthem, and in such cases artistic license is always used liberally.

                      To military historians though… while possible, and certainly widely accepted, it’s highly improbable.

                      Given Keys’ personal experience of the subversion and insurgency of slaves in British pay – paid just as were the White Marines – no wonder he addressed a jury in 1837 as follows:

                      “Are you willing, gentlemen, to abandon your country, to permit it to be taken from you, and occupied by the abolitionist, according to whose taste it is to associate and amalgamate with the negro? Or, gentlemen, on the other hand, are there laws in this community to defend you from the immediate abolitionist, who would open upon you the floodgates of such extensive wickedness and mischief?”

                    • Keys was an officer in the militia who “expeditiously retrograded” in the face of the ex-slaves of the Colonial Marines who led the advance on Washington.

                      It was rightly felt by the English that this spearhead unit had a score to settle with their erstwhile masters, and that they’d put the Fear of God into the irregular militia who were defending the approaches to the capital.

                      It worked. Keys and company skeddadled – and given their lack of training, poor equipment and discipline, and the professionalism of their opponents who were holding personal grudges, this was prudence, not poltroonery.

                      The attack on Baltimore, and the Congreve rocket bombardment with its famous “red glare” came some months later after Keys’ ignominious retreat in the face of “hirelings and slaves”, escaped blacks now taking the King’s shilling, and vowing to vandalise the whole area.

                      Actually, to me anyway, it makes Keys’ words far more appropriate than some metaphorical verbiage.

          • Which takes me back to my original question. So the problem for you isn’t that “sports teams, nor corporations, nor charities nor the government have any business or right to dictate what their employees’ speech, beliefs, loyalties or passions are,” but that they didn’t give sufficient warning? You would have had no problem with Kaepernick not standing in 2009, but you have a problem with him kneeling now?

            So basically, as I surmised, under your analysis, the whole LBTQ display should be fine next year( assuming it wasn’t already done the previous year.)

            • Consent, free and informed. “sports teams, nor corporations, nor charities nor the government have any business or right to dictate what their employees’ speech, beliefs, loyalties or passions are,”

              That is exactly what I know to be true. No, the anthem isn’t a political statement. All citizens are presumably loyal and respectful of the nation. Rejecting it is. You are just being intentionally dense. A US sports team, playing before US spectators, has every reason to present a patriotic image on the field, and its employees are not being abused to simply not disrespect the nation. A sports team may not presume that team members agree with other political positions, and may not force them to do so, or place them in a position where they appear to be rejecting a position by not submitting to this abuse of power.

              The team should have told CK to stay off the field until after the anthem. The workplace is not the place for protests. But that is not the issue at hand.

              • I think it’s perhaps telling that they’re starting to treat the anthem as if it were a political statement. Who knows, a couple years and maybe progressives will start agitating to replace the SSB with “You Can’t Stop The Beat”.

                Regardless, on the topic of Anthems and what they represent… It’s interesting, the differences between the anthems of Ex-colonies and Britain;


                “God keep our land glorious and free! O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.”

                (French Version)
                “Ton histoire est une épopée, Des plus brillants exploits. Et ta valeur, de foi trempée, Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.”
                (Your history is an epic, of brilliant deeds. And your valour, steeped in faith, will protect our homes and our rights.)


                “Oh, say! does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”


                “God save our gracious Queen
                Long live our noble Queen
                God save the Queen
                Send her victorious
                Happy and glorious
                Long to reign over us
                God save the Queen”

                It’s a juxtaposition that I’m sure everyone was aware of at the time they were penned.

                • That French anthem is crazy violent.
                  The “Star Spangled Banner is Racist” myth is purely an exercise in bad exegesis. It’s similar to the phenomenon of people looking at ancient Egyptian art and seeing sci-fi aliens. Or how a rock singer can see a funny looking cloud or something, write a catchy song about it, and years later kids on the internet are swearing that it’s a song exposing a worldwide conspiracy or whatever.

            • All citizens are presumably loyal and respectful of the nation. Rejecting it is. You are just being intentionally dense. A US sports team, playing before US spectators, has every reason to present a patriotic image on the field, and its employees are not being abused to simply not disrespect the nation.

              I am not trying to be dense. I’m trying to grasp my way to a unified, logical theory of ethics which castigates sports teams for forcing their employees to espouse speech, beliefs, loyalties or passions that may be contrary to their own, yet also condemns Kaepernick for not going along with the unethical conduct outlined.

              Kaepernick obviously has some strongly held beliefs that have evolved about the Star Spangled Banner. Any inquiry into his patriotism (or not) is irrelevant, because requesting their employees stand for the anthem (completely unrelated to their jobs), never should have been done in the first place.

              I don’t see how endorsing the anthem is *not* a political statement, but rejecting it (by kneeling) somehow is. One is just a political statement that we take for granted, while the other one is not.

  6. Excuse me for focusing on the wrong thing (I wonder sometimes if something went wrong for me while in the womb?!?) but I had never heard that song before nor my boyfriend. We listened to it and then looked up who wrote it. It was John Madara and David White (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Don%27t_Own_Me).

    It is odd when you think about it that a song which expresses such rebelliousness of women against men, or women against ‘patriarchy’, but which spirit too is so evident in everything that came out that era and, now, culminates in destruction and chaos, should be written by a man (and not a woman). Isn’t that weird when you think about it?

    Here’s a bio of Leslie Gore (Lesley Sue Goldstein). http://www.washingtonblade.com/2015/02/26/thanks-party-leslie-gore/

    And her obituary: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/17/arts/music/lesley-gore-teenage-voice-of-heartbreak-dies-at-68.html?_r=0

    Hail the Lesbian/Feminist Revolution! Hail the Destruction of the Republic! 😉

    I suggest that it is that spirit which has taken possession of the age.

  7. I think this dovetails quite nicely with the recent issue of removal of certain monuments. The overarching questions are: are there things universally worth honoring, universally worth rejecting, can that honor or that rejection be compelled, and, if so, who is vested with the power to make those determinations and enforce them?

    Growing up it used to be a given that a certain historical narrative and certain historical figures were entitled to a certain level of deference and respect. American history started with the discovery, moved into the conquistadores, then the early English colonists. After that came the revolution, the Constitution, and you know the rest. Columbus, Cortez, John Smith, Washington, and all the rest were treated as great men who achieved great things, and America’s achievements – the Constitution, the exploration and conquest of the frontier, the world wars and the assumption of the leadership of the free world, putting a man on the moon, and so forth, were considered great and not really questioned.

    A certain level of patriotism was expected, no matter how liberal or conservative you were, and you pledged allegiance to the flag, stood for the national anthem, etc. A certain amount of deference to the majority culture was also expected, and you either sang Christmas carols with the other kids or you quietly didn’t.

    You walked past whatever monuments the town had, and you didn’t ask whether it was right they were there, leave alone think about getting them removed down the line. If there were community observances for the veterans or this or that ethnic group, you participated or you didn’t, and they were usually nothing more controversial than a speech and a wreath.

    Eventually the counterculture arose and started asking questions about this perhaps too-comfortable system of things. Some of those questions needed to be asked, and needed answers. The counterculture also pushed its own set of persons and ideas as worthy of honor. Some honestly were marginalized and deserved to take a place in the light.

    The problem arose when the counterculture started to become its own dominant culture and, after years of pushing, became so-self-righteous and convinced of its absolute correctness that it decided it was going to shove that culture down the throat of anyone who disagreed, by executive power and legislation when in power, by lawsuit and boycott when not. How that came to be could be a book unto itself, and in fact several books on the subject have been written, starting with Alan Bloom’s “The Closing of the American Mind.”

    Both the right and the left have chosen certain pet causes that they believe must be honored. The right generally has become associated with patriotism, veterans/the military, first responders, and evangelical Christianity. The left has become associated with non-European races, women, gays, the more liberal Christian churches, and religions not associated with Christianity or Islam. The left has also tried to associate itself with being the default forward-thinkers and progressives, who want to sweep away the past and build a better future.

    That sweeping away the past and building a better future, though, includes removing cherished symbols and beliefs of the oppressed past and pushing and popularizing the symbols and beliefs of that new future.

    One relatively easy way of doing that is by making the offended or the oppressed into de facto gods who must always be appeased. If someone cries offense or oppression, then the presumption is that they must be given whatever they seek to alleviate that feeling, particularly if it comes from the majority culture.

    It means that maybe they can’t stop the big displays of the military and emergency services that have come to be associated with honoring the Irish in March, and they can even legally force their way in by claiming oppression of gay people, but they can kick up a stink, cast a pall over the proceedings, and maybe even scare major contributors into pulling out lest they be called bigots.

    It means they can push back against the celebration of Italian culture and the coming of the Europeans to America in the cities that don’t have huge Italian populations, maybe even demanding that Columbus Day become Indigenous People’s Day instead, although they are still going to be stymied in places like NY and Chicago that have too many Italian Americans to defeat. In effect, though they are saying the Italians’ culture and achievements are either not worth celebrating or too tainted to celebrate, and must be pushed aside by something they believe is more worthy.

    It means that they can push for, and ultimately achieve, the elimination of statues in memory of the losing side on the Civil War, as we have discussed.

    It also means they can push for the removal and elimination of memorials that show crosses or other symbols of the majority Christian religion. Even though they may meet with limited success, they can cast a pall over every public ceremony that honors the veterans or whoever the memorial was built to honor. They can also silence Christmas concerts in schools and force Christmas displays hopefully out of sight, all in the name of appeasing the offended.

    It also means that it can press very hard for the rainbow flag to be displayed for a month at a time, prominently and for sports teams to wear rainbow laces, numbers, etc.

    That said, the right can do similar things – push for the wearing of patriotic colors, the wearing the red poppy in November, and other displays of support for causes not necessarily everyone is in support or pronounce it unworthy of even thinking of.

    There’s one reason the left has to feat history: if you look in history you are going to see where else it was the thing to do to pronounce opposing viewpoints unworthy, silence their adherents, kill their celebrations, and force their symbols from public view. None of those regimes are anything a free society like the United States should aspire to be: Revolutionary France, where cathedrals became temples to the Cult of Reason and you could be guillotined for any reason or no reason, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, whose records speak for themselves, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, where wearing glasses or playing music could earn you a quick death, clubbed with a pick or a hoe, and…ISIS, where musical instruments are burned and artwork smashed to pieces after the beheadings.

  8. Seems to me that, if the USSF’s uniform requirement is unethical, then establishing any dress code which is not completely apolitical and non-sectarian also would be unethical. But, I don’t think that is the case.
    Take for example a U.S. military insignia which projects a militaristic theme; a soldier with pacifistic tendencies may be required to wear it anyway as a regular part of the uniform. Is that unethical?
    Or, consider the New York Yankees policy on facial hair, which by the way  distinguishes their players nicely from their scraggly opponents to the north — suppose a Yankee converts to Islam and considers a beard to be essential for a devout Muslim. Does the Yankee’s grooming policy then become unethical, or was it already?
    Neither the soldier, nor the Yankee, nor the soccer player can leave their organization without substantial consequences, so there is an element of force. Yet, wearing an unwanted insignia, maintaining a ‘well-groomed’ appearance, or wearing a political message, especially when there is coercion involved, does not necessarily indicate agreement, only compliance.
    And, a corporation should be able to project an image it considers proper and favorable, including through a dress code.
    If prospective employees (including athletes) were informed before contracting that they would have to abide by a dress code and were given some examples of what that mmight entail, then I don’t see a problem. If they were completely blindsided, then that would unethical.

    • This has nothing to do with dress codes. The issue is political or social statements. The military is a terrible example. Soldiers have no autonomy and have no rights. They can’t quit at will, they have no rights to speak, and must follow all orders.

      • If someone is told what they must wear while on duty or on the athletic field, and what they cannot wear, that, to me, is a dress code. The real issue, the political message on the USSF uniforms, is a part of their dress code for select games, but it is a message from and by the Federation, not the player. Will some mis-interpret that? Of course. Can players state their own views off the field? Yes, although there most likely are limits on what is acceptable.
        The USSF has also decreed that all players “must stand respectfully during the playing of the national anthems” at any event where the Federation is represented. Mandated political speech (symbolic), supporting a particular nation? Not really, since again the message is from the Federation, not the individual.
        And, soldiers may have been a bad example, but they do have rights, albeit more limited than civilians, especially off duty when they can wear pretty much what they want, speak freely (mostly), and engage in political activities.
        We all place some limits on ourselves and make some comittments when we sign a contract. Again, unless the nature of the comittment was hidden, requiring compliance is ethical.

        • You’re playing word games. So “Vote for Trump” on a uniform is just a “dress code”? It’s forced speech. Clothing is not typically speech. A slogan is. A rainbow with “pride” is. An organization can take positions; it cannnot ethically force employees to embrace those positions or be human billboards for them.

          • There are a lot of people vehemently saying that companies should be able to make employees wear pride symbols that I’m sure would be equally vehement in their condemnation if instead of a pride symbol the forced political slogan was, for instance, “Build a Wall.”

            • Because in the end it isn’t about freedom or support or any of those other ideas. It’s about control and whose politics the person with control likes. That’s why hard left NY mayor Bill DeBlasio boycotted the St. Patrick’s Day parade for two years over their refusal to allow openly gay banners. The organizers didn’t want them, the SCOTUS said they didn’t have to allow them, well tough, he was in charge, he liked the politics that went with gay groups, and until it changed he was going to boycott. He also made noises about disallowing the NYPD and FDNY from marching in their uniforms, knowing full well the SCOTUS had already said otherwise and it was a toothless threat.

              On the other hand, this year he is standing firm on marching in a Puerto Rican Day Parade that seeks to honor Oscar Lopez Rivera, a convicted terrorist and leader of a criminal organization that committed multiple bombings and murders in the name of Puerto Rican independence, including the 1974 Fraunces Tavern bombing that killed 4 people and had ambulances lined up like taxis to take away the wounded. He would still be in jail another 20 years if Obama hadn’t buckled to pressure from a few left-of-left politicians and celebs (including Bernie) and granted him clemency on January 17. I know you proclaimed him an ethics hero for granting clemency to other prisoners about a month before that (December 19, 2016), but that was with the understanding that mad dog killers were not among them. I submit that this particular grant (which slipped under a lot of people’s radar) was not an act of ethics heroism, but of ethical deafness, but that’s a separate discussion.

              Most other major figures and organizations associated with this parade, including NY Governor Andrew Cuomo (certainly no fiery conservative), the FDNY, and the New York Yankees, see this, know it’s a bridge too far ethically, and have decided not to attend. DeBlasio, though, has alarms that just aren’t functioning. Actually, I take that back, he has a case of selective ethics hearing. He knows damn well what this guy’s background is, but he likes what he stands for, and he sees him as a saint for national liberation, so he is standing firm behind what he likes, objective ethics aside.

  9. The larger question, it seems to little ole backward me, is what force or forces stands behind this sort of movement in the culture? That is, to slowly and surely insert into the culture — into people’s minds, their unconscious, into their value orientation — the declaration that homosexuality is fine and good and must be celebrated and defined as something to be prideful about? When you look closely at that I suggest that it is hard to avoid seeing the perversity of it.

    I would suggest — I do suggest because this is my topic of interest, philosophically and religiously — that one can trace these things back and one can discover their origin in ideas. To turn the culture homosexual — what I have termed the homosexualization of America which is obviously becoming a world-scale program headed by oligarchic elites — is part of a program to undermine traditional religious forms, for example traditional Catholicism of the pre-Vatican II variety, and other religious forms which are tied to longstanding social conventions. This spirit though will undermine all traditional forms and will insert new ones. One of the fastest routes to undermining longstanding social conventions is through presenting and offering and *selling* perverse sexuality. Sell it to the children of course before they have had to to solidify their internal structures! Overturn sexual values and get people thinking all the time along these lines and you will achieve a great deal of destruction with a minimum effort. Get your women to begin to take up homosexual practices by *suggesting* it constantly, get your men to take up homosexual practices through the same method and —voila — you will undermine the culture. Make it a *social evil* to critique this, and turn the one who does so into a social pariah to be sure the process goes forward without interruption. Ingenious, no?

    I would further suggest that once one notices and locates the basic spirit which undermines like acid the traditional forms, and of course and by extension the traditional metaphysics, it then becomes possible to manipulate people in extraordinary ways. The *homosexual pride* thing is really complex when you go into it. Because it plays on a natural human tendency to want to support an underdog or one who is just trying to be free of social constraints. The overturning of those constraints plays very well among those of child-mind because, like children, they want to *be free* and they do not have the experience to think in terms of long-term consequences.

    But I think one has to follow these tendencies back and try to locate where the shifts actually began. The ‘traditional forms’ and the ‘traditional metaphysics’ are the factual foundations of the civilization. Everything has been built on them. Modify the foundations and you will destroy what allowed the culture and civilization to come into existence. Therefor, when one locates *the spirit* that is afoot — though I recognize this is supremely contended material! — I have been coming to see that one locates, in essence, a demonic force. Sure, that term is a difficult one and requires to be defined. And on the other side of the pole so too does any term or idea that defends the God, the godly and the angelic. But there you have another related problem: in today’s world, the world of the mind of the MASS, forces are working hard to destroy the possibility of a relationship to a ‘higher world’ and at the same time (logically) to a ‘lower world’. One is not allowed to see in these terms and to talk about it openly.

    Therefor, I suggest, one can begin to locate a general spirit which seeks to enter into and control how one visualizes reality. These are all things that function together and they are part-and-parcel of tendencies which go back 300-600 years, right to the end of the Medieval Era.

  10. “It is a lovely gesture by MLB, but what if a player doesn’t want to support the military? What if he’s a pacifist? What if he objects to American militarism or the defense budget? Apparently none of this matters to the teams or their sport.”

    I would tend to think one forgoes at least some of their right to free expression the moment they clock-in. After all, they’re no longer just “some person,” but are acting as a paid representative of the company and its values. When I worked retail, it wouldn’t have upset me in the slightest if every customer who left the store was summarily gunned down by a raving madman because I didn’t know or care about their lives, but I never considered it a violation of my rights that I was forced to end transactions with “Have a nice day!” Moreover, I was regularly encouraged to recommend and promote products I had no personal belief or interest in. I had to dress in clothes that I not only found ugly, but uncomfortable. I was required to do chores which I would never have done if I wasn’t being paid to. Etc.

    I guess I’m curious: where is the line drawn?

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