Carnes: Divided we stand, united we … boycott? (column) |

Carnes: Divided we stand, united we … boycott? (column)

Editor’s note: Find a cited version of this column at

At this very moment, in two thousand friggin’ seventeen no less, we have a nation embroiled in a superficial battle over who can be less shallow when providing an appearance of patriotism on national television.

Even typing such a sentence is painful.

What so many are missing is the simple fact that actual patriotism can only exist when it is completely voluntary, never forced, as nothing shouts “freedom” quite like involuntary compliance during a song championing freedom.

Attempting to ram anything down people’s throats, whether it is in the form of standing, kneeling, sitting or the compulsory recitation of words, will always backfire in the long run. I fail to understand why kneeling or sitting is a sign of respect sufficient for one sky wizard deity or another, yet so disrespectful during the playing of a song.

Both are merely pure symbolism.

You believe entire teams are disrespecting the flag, and race relations have nothing to do with the issue? Fine, I think you’re wrong and completely missing the point, but you have my complete support to believe whatever you wish.

Want to boycott the NFL? Fine, I think you’re wrong and completely missing the point, but you have my complete support to boycott whatever you wish.

You believe a private institution that up until a few years ago was tax-exempt should mandate its members be compliant in a particular cultural fashion because you deem it to be proper?

Fi—no, wait, that’s idiotic.

There is a reason declarations of freedoms are the very First Amendment, but nothing in our secular constitution gives individuals the right to demand control over the actions of another. But if boycotting a sport helps you sleep at night and makes you feel like you’re making a difference, hey, sleep well.

Just know in the last year or so, conservatives demanded boycotts of Amazon, Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Target, Netflix, Ben & Jerry’s, Oreos and, of course, the NFL.

Not to be beat, liberals have demanded boycotts of Walmart, Exxon, Hobby Lobby, Chick-fil-A, Cracker Barrel, Urban Outfitters and, of course, Waffle House.

On a personal note, I have not boycotted Oreos, Hobby Lobby or Chick-fil-A because of their childlike support of ancient third-world belief systems, but because Hobby Lobby sells nothing I want or need, I’m not a big fan of chicken but I like Oreos.

My choice and certainly not a toothless boycott.

In other words, they might as well be called girlcott’s for all the good they actually accomplish. Wait, I didn’t mean that in a sexist way, I just thought it was funny, sorry.

Anyway, I continue to be amazed at the reasoning people can justify to limit free speech that isn’t their own, yet this entire issue has now, thanks to the immature antics of an elected madman, become a symbolic representation against the man himself.

As for those demanding compliance and boycotts, please feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but I’m pretty sure that’s nationalism, not patriotism.

Big difference.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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