About a year ago, Colin Kaepernick knelt during the National Anthem, which is really kind of a crap song, isn’t it? I think Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land is Your Land’ from Woody Guthrie would make a much better, peppier national anthem, or maybe Miley Cyrus’ ‘Party in the USA’ or maybe we could just pick a new one every few years, which would be much more in keeping with America’s modern, trend-driven character.
But, that’s not my point. He knelt to protest the treatment of black people by police. He knelt to protest the murders of Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Fernando Castile, and hundreds – yes, hundreds – of others.
He lost his job. Progressives spoke up for him, flag people criticized him, and football fans argued over whether or not he was such a great quarterback that maybe he wasn’t just cut for due cause, which seems a bit odd to me because he was considered good enough before the protest.
But, for the most part the furor had died down until Donald Trump stepped in, calling him a son of a bitch and urging the flag people to walk out of the stadium (which isn’t likely to happen). Now everybody’s kneeling, even one woman who sang the anthem. Whole teams are staying in the locker rooms, and plenty of people are questioning why they have to play the anthem at an entertainment event at all. Flag people are upset because football players are ‘protesting the flag’ which is like saying Rosa Parks was protesting public transportation (I borrowed that from Facebook – thought it was a pretty good line), and people are lining up soldier’s quotes on both sides. A lot of the people on my Facebook page are just bitching about football, and how it promotes violence. The original Black Live’s Matter issue is being largely overlooked, for which I blame the media.
One positive aspect, and this is the point I want to make. It’s a bit like in Catch-22. when they made everybody sign a loyalty oath before they could get a meal, and then two loyalty oaths, and on and on, until somebody with rank came into the cafeteria and said ‘Fuck this, give everybody food.’ (I’m paraphrasing)
For the past half century or so, at least, America has become progressively more flag and symbol obsessed. The whole ‘flag pin’ thing, which was an issue in more than one election, the anthem before all sporting events, the pledge of allegiance in schools, and political campaigns slapping up flags wherever there was enough space, flag T-shirts, flag hats, flag towels, flag underwear.
It’s worse than bloody Christmas. And now, Donald Trump may have ruined it. I’m not giving him credit, he didn’t ruin it on purpose, his intent is just to run with it, to cover himself in the flag as all politicians before him have. He has ruined it, though.
It is now O.K. to not like the national anthem, it is now O.K. to ignore the flag because, you know, Trump is a plonker.
It’s like a breath of fresh air.