Take a Knee. Take a Seat. Take a Chill Pill.

American schoolchildren pledging allegiance to the flag in a former form of the salute, specifically the Bellamy salute. Sourced from wikimedia commons, public domain.

by Thomas L. Knapp…….

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners,” US president Donald Trump thundered from the stage of a September campaign rally, “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!'”

Many seem to agree that professional football games are no place for political statements. Well, at least they agree now. I don’t recall a peep from them for nearly a decade of the US government shelling out millions of dollars to turn professional football games into combination political statements and military recruitment rallies.

Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle reports, a Texas high school student has been expelled for sitting through morning prayers to the god called government, also known as “the Pledge of Allegiance.”

C’mon, people — relax!

Is it truly important that someone you don’t know didn’t assume your preferred bodily posture while a song you like was played?

Is it the end of the world that a high school student doesn’t practice the same (secular) religion as you?

I was brought up to respect the flag. The Marine Corps reinforced that tendency. A 48-star flag adorned my grandfather’s casket (he served in the navy in World War Two). A 50-star flag just may cover mine one of these days. My personal politics notwithstanding, I’m a little bit attached to its symbolism.

But at the end of the day, the flag is a piece of cloth that some people don’t attach positive, let alone reverent, feelings to. The cry that some people “died for” it is, frankly, disrespectful to those people and whatever their real reasons were for taking up arms beneath it.

The national anthem is a song that glorifies the killing of rebellious slaves, some of whose descendants are likely among those criticized for failing to stand while it’s played (ask the grandchild of an Auschwitz survivor to stand for the Deutschlandlied and see how he or she responds).

And the “Pledge of Allegiance” was written by a flag salesman to, you guessed it, boost his flagging sales numbers (sorry, couldn’t help myself there).

If it bothers you to the point of distraction that some people are, by your lights, insufficiently respectful of the Stars and Stripes, your priorities are way out of whack. And if the flag does indeed stand for freedom, you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.


Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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6 thoughts on “Take a Knee. Take a Seat. Take a Chill Pill.

    1. Ben,

      I’ve only been appearing in The Blue Paper for a couple of years, but I don’t recall you saying “play ball, not politics” before now, when every football game began with a bunch of political pageantry — national anthem, color guards, etc. So is it politics that bothers you, or just a particular type of politics?

      1. “So is it politics that bothers you, or just a particular type of politics?”

        In direct answer to your question, it’s politics in sports. I’ve been watching the NFL since the late 50s when the Browns were my favorite team because the great Jim Brown was my favorite player. He has become even greater in life because of his work with gangs, etc., and was invited to speak with President Trump about solutions.

        In 1966 switched to the Dolphins as they were in close proximity to Key West and I could catch a game at the Orange Bowl. Turned off by the kneeling last year, but still followed the NFL and this year when it escalated I haven’t watched a single snap. Hardly miss this diversion at all.

        The National Anthem and accompanying pageantry as well as the Pledge of Allegiance in schools and elsewhere (we say it before our Advisory Board meetings) might seem over-the-top patriotic to some and I understand that, but it is part of the glue that holds a country together.

        Just play ball.

  1. The Moron never gets it. He said that not worshipping the national anthem is insulting the first responders and military people, not about racism. Most of us understood the action was to protest American police murdering black men with impunity.
    I’m a Viet Nam vet and the author of “Tin Can,” a novel about the naval war offshore of Nam. I learned that patriotic zeal is a way to control the public mind and to make it do evil deeds for the Owners’ profit. Resist!

    1. Tell me more about that novel — I did a quick search on “Tin Can” but all I saw were non-fiction, mostly WWII, books.

      Trump is all about respect for the flag and the military supposedly. But the other day he laughed and joked through “To The Colors” at a military event.

  2. I only fly 3 flags , the american flag, the confederate flag and the conch republic flag.
    Can understand some not liking my confederate flag or conch flag but if they lack the respect of our country’s flag then they need to move to the country they support.

    Either take it all out of sports or demand respect. Just maybe when they see a lost in fans they will wise up. What is next ? take it out of courts and schools?

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