The Minority Report on the National Anthem
BY STEPHEN ODUNTAN
A year ago, Colin Kaepernick was alone in his early protest, but now taking a knee has spread like a quenchless fire.
In response, anthem-kneeling NFL players have sparked strong sentiments in homes across America. The echoing chorus often goes along these lines:
It is unpatriotic. It is disrespectful of our heritage. It is nothing short of a flagrant, intolerable insult to the men and women that have fought and died for the (good ol') U.S. of A.
Hmmm! I’m reminded of a quote attributed to Paul Joseph Goebbels Kenneth:
“Repeat a lie often enough, and it becomes the truth.”
As much as I am reluctant to quote Adolf Hitler's Propaganda Minister, the premise for using it here is apt.
Why? Well, this piece attempts to expose falsehoods passing under the name of patriotism. There is much ambiguity as it pertains to proper decorum when the national anthem plays. Particularly, how Americans respond often goes underreported. Let me put it like this, for donkey’s years, NFL fans in the multitudes have not stood for the national anthem.
Kenneth Arthur, a freelance journalist, wrote extensively on the subject. He points out in a Rolling Stone article (Why Fan Reaction to NFL National Anthem Protests Is About Racism, Not Patriotism) that while many NFL fans normally stood during the national anthem, much more either sat; gobbled down beer with their hats still on; or were text messaging. He goes on to say that no one made it a priority to go out of their way to tell someone else to stand or put their hand on their chests during the song’s moment of attention. Yet, many of these same NFL fans, contends Arthur, claim to be appalled at the NFL players taking a stance today. Could it be that all the NFL players protesting are African-American have anything to do with the sudden outrage?
Fact is, despite the current patriotic skewed view growing in the echo chamber, barely anyone was making a fuss over the national anthem a year or so ago. But that soon changed when other NFL players joined Kaepernick’s fight for social justice.
It is transparent like a model wearing a see-through top. The wave of hysterical and misguided patriotism has muddied the waters of Kaepernick’s message. The culprits are bent on creating a smokescreen to conceal the real problem that ignited the Kaepernick movement in the first place. And that is the NFL players are drawing attention to police brutality and racial inequality. Period.
But the issue has become desperately conflated in recent months that words like unpatriotic keeps getting tossed around like a matador thrown into the air by a bull.
Leading the charge, well, of course, Mr. 45th dived deep into the fray. We’ve all by now seen the footage in which the president launched a sensational attack on NFL players. Using salty language at an Alabama rally in September, the president of the U.S.A. declared:
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’”
Donald J. Trump lecturing us about the flag is like O.J. Simpson spreading awareness of domestic violence to women.
I mean really? During a recent interview on his favorite news outlet, Fox News, Trump sat and talked through the nightly playing of "Retreat" as the American flag was lowered on a Pennsylvania Air National Guard base. Uniformed service members are required to stop what they're doing and salute the flag as its lowered during the song while civilians are required to place their hand over their heart. I can’t even call Trump’s poor judgment a blunder given his track record.
When you think about this, it is laughable but too serious to be a laughing matter. Trump wouldn’t even go near a Salvation Army building let alone serve in the military. Back in 1968, at the age of 22, Trump avoided every opportunity to fight for his country. His pathetic excuses: a minor medical deferment due to a foot condition and four educational deferments as well. Frankly, Trump’s patriotism is like counterfeit money. Fake. He insults the men and women in uniform who sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War.
To sum it all up, from a minority’s perspective in America, clashes of opposing narratives on the national anthem leaves me pessimistic about race relations. I find it mind-boggling that in 2017 certain demographics are having trouble understanding why professional athletes use a song to shed light on racial inequality in America. Equally perplexing, Kaepernick remains unemployed. The NFL blacklisted him. He committed the cardinal sin for seeking equality for all Americans, no matter their race or gender. Meanwhile, let this marinate in your mind: Trump, who bragged about groping women remains gainfully employed to the highest office in the land. Oh, say can you see the hypocrisy? It is blatant enough to see that even Stevie Wonder took a knee.