Carnes: Having to force patriotism on people is unpatriotic (column)
May 28, 2018
"Isn't it great that we don't have to deal with NFL players taking a knee anymore during the national anthem?"
No, there's nothing great, or even halfway good, about it.
"What? That's awfully unpatriotic of you. What are you, some kind of commie pinko liberal hell-bent on bringing this great country to its knees?"
Wow, that escalated quickly, and please tell me you didn't miss the irony of your words, but no, in spite of your knee-jerk stereotyping, I simply think First Amendment rights supersede your fear of being offended.
"Well, I am offended by spoiled overpaid athletes refusing to stand for the national anthem."
Then change the channel.
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"But I wanna watch football."
Then be an adult and stop whining about having your little feelings hurt. Besides, I'm sure even you understand the entire issue began as a simple form of protest against racial injustice, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the national anthem or the flag or veterans or anything else.
"I disagree. President Donald Trump said they were protesting the flag and the military and anyone who thinks otherwise hates this country!"
That's the worst part of this entire silly issue. It would have died a quick death if only the president had been focused on his job instead of his thin-skinned reputation. But either way, I fully respect your First Amendment right to share that opinion, even if you are shouting like an angry white guy at a Trump rally. Tell me how you feel about flag burning, religious cults protesting funerals of dead American servicemen and women and Nazi parades complete with burning torches and "white pride" hand gestures.
"I'm against them?"
Of course you are, any decent person would be, yet the First Amendment protects those ignorant morons too.
"Well, it shouldn't."
You can't pick and choose what level of free speech you wish to follow. It's pretty much all or nothing, and the NFL demanding compliance is more along the lines of nationalism, not patriotism. Goodell and company shy away from violence against women and brain damage but draw the line with free speech? Give me a break.
"I'm still glad it won't be an issue any more."
Then you're still a naive nincompoop. The brain trust at the NFL gives players the option of staying in the locker room during the national anthem, and before the ink was dry on the statement Trump implied those who do so "shouldn't be in the country."
"Seems rather extreme."
Jeez, ya think? Then again, we're Americans, being offended is what we do, but at least this form of protest is peaceful. Let's hope it stays that way.
"And I can still watch football, right?"
Sure, just remember they are sporting events, not political campaign rallies to prove who loves America more.
Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.