Decomposing the patriotic symbols clashes

I had a conversation recently about the Flag, the Anthem, Standing, and Kneeling.  Here is a reply to  the conversation.  There are quotes of other people.

I think we pretty close together!  But I will unpack and decompose the ideas into atoms while folding in points you have made.  There are two main portions to this:

A.  Symbolism, specifically what respect is, what representation is, and how forcing an expression is like religious oppression.

B.  Religion & politics in the job place



§ Assumptions

  • The anthem and the flag are symbols.  They represent ideals we cherish as a nation. People die for these ideals, such as the 1st Amendment. They don’t die for symbols.
  • Expressions are symbols.  Standing and kneeling are both signs (symbols) of reverence, depending on context. So is putting your hand on your heart and taking off your hat (as was done when the anthem was first played at the 1918 World Series).
  • Playing the anthem is a patriotic and political expression.
  • There is no one form, true form, or more “right” form of Patriotic expression.
  • There is no one form, true form, or more “right” form of respect, honor, deference, or reverence.

§ Discussion

  • The Flag and Anthem are symbols of what our nation stands for.  “Home of the free and land of the brave”, the Constitution (1st Amendment in this case).
  • You: « I decide to stand because my intent is to extend respect to living veterans and honor the memory of those that have passed. »  A noble and individual choice, not a collective mandate.  Your intent — as you have expressed it — is also targeted toward veterans, not necessarily national values (like freedom).  The symbolism of YOUR expression is not the same as others.
  • And that’s all right.  Question is: does it bother you that other people are symbolically expressing other things that are more targeted toward our nation not fulfilling its values, the ones you profess to honor?  If it does, then there is an unwarranted clash of symbolism.  You stand to show respect for your intent; others kneel to reflect that the country is not living up to higher standards.  Both are complementary, noble, & patriotic  — not mutually exclusive — expressions.
  • You: « The folks that are kneeling are kneeling for different reasons; and their message is not organized and thus comes across as disrespectful and not religious. »  So “organized” and  having the same “reasons” are requirements for what a symbol should mean?  Consider the last paragraph (above). Your reasons and what you “intend” are your own. That criterion does not apply to others?
  • It further calls into question the “their reasons are different” part. How close must “reasons” be to justify the same physical expression (of which we only have a limited possible physiological number)?   Same ballpark? (Like yours vs. someone who is standing to honor Freedom and the 1st Amendment vs. someone who has no idea, they just feel it patriotic?)
  • Playing the anthem during a company function (football game, business of entertainment) makes it a larger conversation than an owner’s command.  That larger conversation includes what is happening in the supposed “land of the free and the home of the brave,” justice, and institutionalized racism as a national theme.
  • What is the type of Patriotism that actually contradicts what the nation is all about — freedom — if you are not free to:
      • Not conform
      • Not dissent
      • Not protest
    • ANSWER: it’s not patriotism, it’s nationalism, like fascism.
  • What does it mean to force others to conform to a particular form of expression that they accept, but you don’t?  Forcing conformity is not freedom.  Stifling national discussion using symbols is repression & censorship, not freedom.  One of trump’s last tweets was that players who don’t stand should lose their jobs and be kicked out of the country.
  • Playing the anthem in 1918 had a huge, popular effect, and soon caught on as routine. It is not a necessary fixture for games. It is now “routine” part of entertainment pageantry. It’s been monetized and, now, politicized.
  • Why is kneeling a sign of disrespect? Because it doesn’t conform to some “right” way, which is, at the very least, standing?  Wouldn’t turning your back or leaving or not coming out on the field be more like showing disdain? Whereas facing forward and kneeling is respectful (or submissive) in every other single context known to man.
  • You: « That and surviving military family members feel disrespected by the kneeling. » I’m reminded of something from a previous discussion: “Football players are disrespecting everything our nation stands for.”  The ignorance in that statement is shocking.  They are exercising what our servicemen have fought and died for.  Are our freedoms and military service mutually exclusive?  Does the military demand special dispensation from the ideals they fought for when it concerns them?  That’s not what I hear from military members, both in reading and in person. So using military service as a reason to squelch freedoms is as contradictory to the idea of service as it is disrespectful of the military itself and what they do for us.
  • It strikes me as odd also that military family members would feel disrespected, like if you don’t show deference for the flag, we take personal offense at fighting and dying for nothing.  That is reducing our nation’s values to a few voices that have reduced the whole of our nation’s values to their personal feelings.  Are they serving for recognition?  Do they want validation for their service?  To me, if they served for any reason other than to protect this country from harm and to preserve our values, then the value system they’re using to be offended is skewed toward service over the values being fought for.  Like “party over country.”
  • To protest the protest is to actually be protesting the lofty ideals of freedom and the Constitution.  It is to try to force unquestioned conformity.  It is the reduction of our national ideals to simplistic rules that contradict what we stand for.  Erosion by dogmatism.
  • Patriotism is not merely “loving your country” but also cherishing the values that have made our democracy what it is.  Patriotism means standing up for your country’s values, including pushing back and making a fuss when those values aren’t being realized.  Standing (a perfunctory expression) for symbols is not the same as actively standing (protesting) for our values.  Forcing people into a form of expression is hollow “patriotism”.
  • I use religious terms when talking about prescribed forms of reverence and “appropriate” expression. I believe that when you turn patriotism into nationalism, you’ve turned it into an intolerant religion because it shares all the same characteristics. Kick people out of the country/church if they don’t believe the same way you do. Ostracize and condemn (burn at the stake) people who contradict the “right” way.

Religion & politics in the job place

§ Assumptions

  • The NFL is a business, and the teams are franchise instantiations of the business.  It has a “brand to protect.”
  • Since Citizens United (2010), there is no protection against employer coercion to political involvement except at some State levels.

§ Discussion

  • You: « The choice is still the players, coaches and staff’s to make to kneel or stand, kneeling just comes with a consequence. »   With the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, the best employees can hope for is that one of the states in which a franchise is based has laws that protect against coercion.  So your point is well taken.  There isn’t anything illegal about it now that corporations are people too.   That means they can apply what “consequences” they want.  The Constitution’s right to free speech only applies when the government is trying to restrict it.
  • However, for a Jehova’s witness, it IS illegal to coerce them into this.  There exist national anti-discrimination protections for those people because what is one person’s political stance is contrary to another’s religious stance (or “firmly held beliefs”).  Those people usually remain seated.
  • WHY did the NFL _owners_ make their decision?  ANSWER: business – they’re losing money.  So business trumps patriotic and constitutional principles.  This is the Trump way.  Maybe, it’s the American way, god forbid.

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