By Christian Rose
For much of my life I never felt particularly obligated nor overly inclined to stand and salute the flag during the national anthem. I did it, of course, but mostly out of peer pressure. Perhaps this is because I attended a religiously diverse grammar school where my Jehovah’s Witness classmates didn’t stand or recite our daily morning flag salute. My friend informed me that this was because his religion taught him that the act of pledging allegiance to anything but God was not permitted.
His explanation made perfect sense, even as a child. Looking back, I think this helped me keep all of our patriotic traditions in their proper perspective. America is a collection of individuals. We do not worship a flag, bend the knee to a king or pledge allegiance to a dictator.
As I entered into young adulthood, and started forging my own political identity, I found the whole pre-game national anthem thing, well, tedious. After all, I was already beginning to distrust American government, so why should I pledge an allegiance to something I didn’t believe deserved our respect? Of course, much of this thinking at the time was largely due to my recent liberal arts education. You know, the kind of education that blames America for pretty much everything terrible in the world.
I’ve learned over these years that it’s not America or her values that are bad. It’s the potentates running things in D.C. that deserve our contempt. Not the flag. Certainly not our traditions.
In my single-living late-20s I had the opportunity to become friends with an older couple. The husband had served in Vietnam — the kind of service that requires killing the enemy and seeing your brothers die daily. One night, over dinner, I motioned to some artwork on the wall that memorialized fallen vets over an American flag. My host got a little emotional explaining what it meant to him. What America meant to him. What the flag represented.
In that moment I changed. Respect of the flag and its symbolic American ideals became a respect of the soldiers that sacrificed their lives. The politics of interventionism that I was against became less important to me. I saw the soldier, all soldiers, as human beings. I vowed in that moment never to disrespect that flag again. Ever.
This is why it is so puzzling that millionaire NFL players, so blessed by American capitalism and our freedoms would choose such an important symbol to use as a political tool. Don’t tell me this is a fight against racism. Nope, that’s hyperbole. If America was as racist as the left wants us to believe, then why would white Americans wholeheartedly embrace so many successful athletes in a sport where 70 percent of them are black?
Sure, there’s no doubt, racism is real. Bigotry is still present in our nation. This fight isn’t over. But the overwhelming majority of Americans are not racist. You’d think Obama’s two election wins would be proof enough.
This whole “taking a knee” thing is just sad. I suspect there’s a lot of reasons why liberal race-baiters are pushing this agenda. Too many reasons to address here. But I am telling you, this is a loser. If you are supporting this lunacy, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. It won’t work.
Americans can see through your inimical tactics. They know when they’re being played, and they won’t participate.
Unless, of course, you’re just hoping we have one less politics-free cultural institution. In that case, sadly, you’ve already won.