In America you can say anything you want, as long as it doesn’t have any effect.
– Paul Goodman
The vacuity of serious thought in America is revealed in so many instances that it is difficult to put together a top-ten list of candidates. Among the fatuous contenders is that involving the question of whether NFL players should stand for the playing of the national anthem. Not since the 1988 presidential campaign, when George W. Bush focused on the sanctity of the Pledge of Allegiance to satisfy members of the boobeoisie to elect him president, has so much mental energy been spent on such a hollow topic.
Patriotic rituals serve one purpose: to reinforce the conditioning begun in childhood with flag salutes and daily Pledges of Allegiance, reminding the citizens of a state that their lives are subservient to the collective interests of the established order. Where hundreds or thousands of individuals gather for an event of common interest – such as sporting events – the dynamics of mass psychology can be mobilized to remind those in attendance of the importance of commitments to matters that transcend the interests of their home team. Out come the flags accompanied by color-guards; a military band; and a singer to lead the crowd in the statist hymn: The Star-Spangled Banner.
The refusal of athletes or fans to stand for this observance of state dominance, is a public challenge to the homogenization of obedience to constituted authority; an admission that some – if only a handful – may be stepping to A Libertarian Critique... Buy New $5.50 (as of 03:05 UTC - Details) the beat of a different drummer than the one in the Marine Corps band. The fear that not everyone is committed to group-thinking is what bothered Ron Paul’s critics when he was in Congress. His dissent cast in a 434-1 vote on a bill was certainly no threat to its enactment, but that it raised the specter of dissent challenged the political mantra e pluribus unum. The “One” that all collectivists insist upon cannot be maintained if some are able to get away with not playing the game.
Statists have long exploited dead soldiers in the peddling of guilt on behalf of their ambitions for power. We are told we “should honor the sacrifice of those who fought and died to protect our freedom.” As often as I have heard this plea, I have yet to have anyone inform me of any liberty I enjoy by virtue of soldiers going to foreign countries, at risk to their own lives, to kill people! Of what is one “free” when fighting or killing others? Soldiers fight because they are ordered to do so, and the selection of the “enemy” is made by persons who have absolutely no interest in benefiting or protecting me.
In a televised press conference, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tried his best to resolve the contradictions that abound in all of politics. While stating that the NFL was “trying to stay out of politics” in this dispute, he failed to recognize that the national anthem is about nothing but politics. He acknowledged that the anthem is “an important part of our game.” How can this be? Does the home-team get six points added to their score if they out-sing the visiting fans? If this music is such an “important” part of the game, have you ever seen people at a football or baseball game leave the stadium once the anthem has been performed?
If the national anthem is of such importance, why do we not perform it in everything we do? Is breakfast, or the start of our workday, or going to a grocery store, or undergoing root-canal work at the dentist’s, to be preceded by this tune? Do we refrain from extending such collective foolishness into our daily lives because the numbers of persons are not sufficient to convert individuals into fungible components of a mob?
There is one very effective way for the NFL and other sectors of the entertainment world to end the squabbling over whether fans and players should stand for this song. As it has absolutely no bearing on the content or performance of the games people come to watch, stop playing it altogether. No more than people should be expected to sing “fight on for USC” when attending an opera, should they be expected to sing hymns to the state.
Perhaps a little history will put the National Anthem in perspective. It is known by every school-child that Francis Scott Key was the author of the poem upon which the anthem is based. What is not so well-known is that Key was a lawyer who not only owned slaves, but defended the practice. Like Abraham Lincoln, Key represented slaveowners, and regarded slaves as “an inferior race of people.” He strongly opposed the abolition movement. As district attorney for Washington, D.C., he prosecuted abolitionists and enjoined the publication and distribution of abolitionist literature. The music to which Key’s poem was set, was taken from the song “Anacreon in Heaven,” an 18th century tune sung in a London gentlemen’s club. The song celebrated drinking and sex.
Perhaps the NFL players are onto something!