Shut Up, It’s the Flag!

I remember my 6th grade English teacher, Mrs. Newman.

Not Ms., but Mrs.  Why?  Because things change.

Mrs. Newman was aware that things change, but she wasn’t always happy about it.  Take the National Anthem, for example.

One day she told us that she was raised to behave in a respectful manner when the National Anthem was played.  That meant, after it finished, you remained silent for a moment.

You most certainly did not yell and applaud as do modern sports fans at today’s arenas and stadiums.

That habit, of loudly celebrating the anthem after its completion, had already taken hold when Mrs. Newman schooled us on patriotic etiquette in 1980.  Such antics, she told us, were vulgar.  Disgraceful.  Carrying on like that was downright disrespectful to the National Anthem, the playing of which deserved decorum and solemnity.

I was reminded of Mrs. Newman today when I listened to and read about people getting mightily upset because football players are taking a knee during the anthem to peacefully protest: the grotesque racism that still pops up now and again in America; the more subtle racism that is still quite pervasive in America; specifically the fact that American law enforcement officers have killed a lot of unarmed black people; the president of the United States, himself a fetid, racist piece of ill-tempered humanity, calling them “sons of bitches.”

I have little patience for the snowflakes who melt into angry little puddles when another person peacefully exercises their constitutional freedoms in a manner that they disagree with.  I cannot stomach the hypocrisy of those who “defend” the flag, a symbol of our constitutional freedoms, by telling others they have no right to exercise their constitutional freedoms.  And I certainly have no patience for the hypocrisy of a president who, after publicly insulting a Gold Star family on his way to the White House, now wraps himself in Old Glory as if performing some patriotic parlor trick.

But before the angry snowflakes or anyone else takes me to task about what we should or shouldn’t do when the “Star Spangled Banner” is being played, just remember: we’re all sinners in the eyes of that lady who taught me Greek and Latin roots (thank you), forbid me from chewing gum in class (fair), and called me out for not really understanding Catcher in the Rye (spot on).

Because one man’s patriot is another man’s traitor;  and one man’s fiery display of patriotism is just another vulgarity in the eyes of another man’s 6th English teacher.

(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

2 thoughts on “Shut Up, It’s the Flag!

  1. next to of course god america i

    “next to of course god america i
    love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth oh
    say can you see by the dawn’s early my
    country ’tis of centuries come and go
    and are no more what of it we should worry
    in every language even deafanddumb
    thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
    by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
    why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
    iful than these heroic happy dead
    who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
    they did not stop to think they died instead
    then shall the voice of liberty be mute?”

    He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water

    (ee cummings, 1894-1962, former WWI ambulance driver and esteemed poet;wrote this perfect Shakespearean sonnet, narrated for the first 13 lines by an anonymous speaker)

  2. Doesn’t the whole concept of kneeling during the anthem intend to show reverence to the cross? In other words, respect for the flag but reverence toward Jesus. That’s how I heard it explained by an athlete who was being interviewed. Kneeling shows that Christian principles of decency toward your fellow man outweigh indecent treatment in the name of nationalism.

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