I’m a sucker for a counterculture.

I wasn’t going to say anything here about the NFL kerfuffle, because a) I haven’t watched a football game in decades and b) the whole issue of patriotism is such a mess you’d need to start with “first let me hear your definition of patriotism,” and c) exactly who gives a damn about what-all football players do? I’m told that except for Superbowls the TV doesn’t broadcast the national anthem part of the games anyway, so how did this suddenly get so important?

And yet it matters. I suppose.

Standing for the anthem is the new counterculture

So here’s my secret shame – I sort of sympathize with the kneelers. Not a lot, but some.

When I was a little boy, every morning whichever public school class I happened to be in was supposed to stand up, put our hands over our hearts, and recite the pledge of allegiance. Maybe you remember it. I did that without thinking for a few years, and “without thinking” is precisely the way we were all taught to do it. The words, I promise, carry no meaning whatever to a 7-year-old boy. But when I got old enough to actually analyze the words on any level at all, I became very uncomfortable.

Maybe it was the Heinlein reader in me – at first it was just the logic of the words. Pledging allegiance to a flag – a piece of cloth, a symbol, made no sense to me semantically. At some point I must have looked up the word Allegiance, since it was never defined in any elementary school class I recall. I was signing over not only my conscience but also my fair young body – Viet Nam was ramping up, though I didn’t take notice of the fact till later – to people who, I was assured, were wiser, better educated and informed, and in all ways better able to make important decisions than I was. Even before it came clear to me that virtually all of that was a lie, and that the last phrase – “liberty and justice for all of whom exactly?” – was a cruel joke, I was made very uncomfortable by the pledge of allegiance.

So I began wanting to sit it out. Technically this was usually permitted. But actions have consequences – particularly conspicuous actions like remaining seated while all the other kids stand up, assume the position, and drone out the recitation. At a minimum it was very uncomfortable. If the teacher happened to feel strongly on the matter, and some did, “technically permitted” became effectively forbidden. Then the consequences ran from public shaming to spanking with a paddle. I wasn’t always consistently strong-minded on the issue but I did wonder: If I go ahead and say the words, forced and without conviction, does God or whoever’s keeping score still hold me to it?

All in all, I can’t get excited either way when a bunch of conspicuously non-oppressed millionaire football players do what I at least wished to do at seven years old. I may continue to disagree with their stated reasons for doing it.


About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to I’m a sucker for a counterculture.

  1. Mark Matis says:

    Those “athletes” are getting paid when they do their “protest”. What do you think would have happened to you if you had “protested” something your employer supported WHILE YOU WERE ON THE JOB AT WORK?

    The NFL had NO problem enforcing its rules against those athletes who tried to show their support for the five Dallas cops who were murdered a while ago. The NFL has NO problem enforcing its rules against anyone who takes a knee in the endzone after scoring a touchdown to give a short thanks to God for enabling him to do so. They are refusing to enforce those same rules in this case. And they, and the players, are paying the consequences for their actions.

    And the fact that this is also negatively impacting the Media who are paying for the “rights” to broadcast NFL games makes it even better!

  2. Phssthpok says:

    I did the same damn thing in second grade, Joel. Never got a paddling, but I did get sent to the Principle’s Office (cue ominous music).
    I was told in no uncertain terms that I HAD to ‘stand and deliver’; that “It’s the LAW!”
    I looked him dead in the eye and said “I’m in second grade. What are they going to do, arrest me?”
    He blinked.Then he tried to negotiate. “well…you don’t have to SAY the words, but to you DO have to at least stand with everyone else”
    Another blink.
    In the end, I won, and never had to bother with any part of the forced ritual ever again.

  3. Ben says:

    I don’t watch football and I don’t care what happens on any football field, be it professional or scholastic. Therefore I shouldn’t even know about this kneeling business, except that certain folks decided to make a big deal out of what should have been a no-account molehill.

    It’s far more interesting to analyze the motives of those “certain folks” than to care what millionaire football jocks think. On reflection, I believe that those “certain folks” motives involve public mind control, but they have failed to control this particular mind. So therefore, I still don’t care!

    Side item: When did kneeling become a sign of disrespect? I somehow missed that memo!

  4. Joel says:

    When did kneeling become a sign of disrespect?

    I’m a little fuzzy on that point myself. 🙂

  5. Ken Hagler says:

    Since they’ve apparently turned football games into miniature Nuremberg Rallies in recent years, you’re probably expected to go back to the original method of “pledging allegiance” by extending your right arm at an upwards angle, palm down.

  6. coloradohermit says:

    “c) exactly who gives a damn about what-all football players do? ”
    That’s my personal question. My usual thought about the national anthem is whether the person performing it does a great job, a mediocre rendition or really sucks or sounds like a funeral dirge.

    And, if I recall correctly, problems with the pledge of allegiance were never among the numerous reasons I ended up in the principal’s office.

  7. MamaLiberty says:

    I’ve never cared a flipping fig about most professional sport, but the “anthem” and flag worship is strong in a great many other events, especially any involving school age children. The rodeo and other horse events here are a good example. The anthem is butchered cheerfully before each such show, and the “color guard” rides proudly around at every rodeo. I get strange looks when I remain seated there, but I just ignore it.

    I stopped going to civic “meetings” here a long time ago, for various reasons, but the poison eye darts when I didn’t stand or “salute the flag” were a good part of it. I went a few times, but since I went openly armed (perfectly legal here), it didn’t seem wise to conflate the two… and the meetings were boring as hell anyway.

    I have no idea what these kneeling people are supposed to be communicating, and though I’m sure I could find out if I wanted to… I discovered the first day that I don’t give a damn.

To the stake with the heretic!