Yeoman commenter Chris issued a detailed response to the first of two posts about the anthem protest fiasco. It’s not all rebuttal, and raises other related issues; Chris is clear and articulate, and I wanted to get this up now so commenters could respond here.
I’ll just argue immediately with one of Chris’s points, because I have always found it bizarre when I have encountered it elsewhere. The Left’s aversion to rituals like standing for the National Anthem or saluting the flag seems to me to be a wonderful example of missing the crucially important forest for a scrawny tree. Rituals, traditions and ceremonies bind people, cultures and societies together. They also bind other cultures together, including small ones, like families. Singing and listening to that Anthem at public events is at worst harmless, and at best a binding and powerful group experience. I feel sorry for people who don’t or can’t experience it, just as I feel pity for those who cut themselves off from the culture’s celebration of Christmas to show their aversion to Christianity or religion. I have seen what havoc is raised in a family when a long and beloved tradition is suddenly rejected by a child. The family is wounded, and all its members are affected. This is just a microcosm of what happens in a nation when there is the kind of widespread rejection of values and symbols that Chris and those like him advocate.
The National Anthem at sporting events is theater, spectacle, and symbolic. Anyone on the field is part of the spectacle, and has the power to diminish the experience for people who care deeply about it. They also harm the tradition itself. For an organization like a sports team, it is important to make any on-field display professional, uniform, and pleasing to the audience. A player intentionally refusing to conform with the ritual and thus disrupting it is, at the minimum, rude and selfish. A team has every justification to take measures to prevent some players from standing respectfully, others kneeling, others turning their back, some waving competing flags and others making farting sounds. It looks bad. It will turn the tradition into a farce. Most important of all, it weakens the country and the culture. National pride and respect is part of the connective tissue that ensures the strength and health of any society. I cannot fathom why so many on the Left cannot grasp this concept, and I have dark suspicions that they do grasp it, and this is why they try to tear our traditions down.
Commenter John Glass also passed this along:
The specific rule pertaining to the national anthem is found on pages A62-63 of the NFL League Rulebook. It states: ‘The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. ‘During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition… …It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.’
Any employer has a right to set such rules and conditions for on the job conduct, and any employee has a right to ply his trade, or another, elsewhere.
Here is Chris’s Comment of the Day on the post, The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, Part One:
sports should not be made a party to the current progressive indoctrination strategy of making everything in American life a political lecture
I agree, which is why the National Anthem should not be played at sporting events.
Nobody pays to go to sporting events to see continuations of the political disputes and debates they watch sports to avoid. Sports is entertainment, and entertainment is escapism.
I agree, which is why the National Anthem should not be played at sporting events.
It’s a useful distinction, and there is no question that the President, as misguided and inappropriate as his remarks were, wins the argument with the many, many millions who just want to watch their favorite teams without being bombarded by political bombast and grandstanding.
I agree, which is why the National Anthem should not be played at sporting events. (And was Trump’s statement not political bombast and grandstanding?
Players are welcome to have political views and to take part in demonstrations and other activism, but not while wearing their uniforms, and not on the field.
I agree, which is why players should not be forced to take part in a political demonstration during sporting events.
Yesterday, over a hundred NFL players “took a knee” during the National Anthem to protest…something…as the news media cheered them on.
It was very clear to me what they were protesting; you describe it here:
The US doesn’t need any more division now, and Trump’s crude outburst was indefensible. Presidents should not comment negatively on the conduct of citizens when they are acting within their Constitutional rights. Nor should they interfere with the policies and disciplinary decisions of private businesses
That’s what they’re protesting. It’s what I would be doing too. I’ve said before that I think flag burning is idiotic, but if Trump followed through on his threats to make flag burning illegal, I would become a flag burner. There may not have been a specific threat here, but the principle is the same. If Trump calls people who take a knee during the national anthem “sons of bitches,” then let me be a son of a bitch.
I am certain he did not; we know by now that Trump just blurts stuff out without considering consequences of any kind.
All the more reason there should be consequences for this.
which he did, and which President Obama also did when he endorsed and defended Kaepernick’s stunt last year.
This is not even true. Obama defended Kaepernick’s right to protest, and explained his reasoning. But he did not endorse his protest, and also said this:
“I think that it’s also important for us to recognize that sometimes out of these controversies, we start getting into a conversation, and I want everybody to listen to each other. So I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee, I want them to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat, and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing. But I also want people to think about the pain that he may be expressing about somebody who’s lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot.”
What? You hate it that showing disrespect to the flag and the national anthem and following the example of a man who said that he couldn’t honor a nation that “oppressed” blacks is seen as disrespect for the flag, our institutions, and the soldiers who fought to preserve that nation you have so much contempt for?
This is deeply unfair. The argument is that our country is not living up to the ideals that the flag stands for. That is not disrespectful toward the flag, and invoking veterans (plenty of whom support Kaepernick’s protest) is pure emotional manipulation.
If you just want to to “send a message of unity and being together,” why not just hold hands and hug?
Because Trump did not call players sons of bitches for holding hands and hugging. He called them sons of bitches for kneeling during the national anthem. So….the best way to show unity with the teammates he targeted is to kneel during the national anthem. Obviously.
Why is refusing to stand for the anthem appropriate?
Why is it inappropriate?
If spectators and fans have to be subjected to this non-sports spectacle,
They are already subjected to a non-sports spectacle: the National Anthem.
shouldn’t the message the players are sending be clear and productive?
It’s perfectly clear to me. You don’t want to understand it.
We want our sporting events, broadcast to the world, to feature on-field demonstrations against the Presidency?
That is irresponsible, self-destructive and insane.
As long as the President continues to use his platform to demonstrate against private citizens engaged in peaceful, silent protest, private citizens have not only the right but the ethical duty to defend each other from his unprovoked and un-American attacks. Failing to do so would be unethical.