Thursday, September 01, 2016

forced displays

are you following the flap around colin kaepernick's failure to stand for the national anthem at a football game to take a stand on civil rights?

first of all, there's a disturbing trend toward enforced patriotic gestures.

in my teaching days, just following 9/11 when schools went into frenzies of mass patriotic display, it was a very difficult time for children of families who for one reason or another do not stand for the national anthem and do not recite the pledge. there are a lot of reasons why perfectly functional citizens of a country may for religious or philosophical reasons decide not to take part in patriotic rituals, which, by the way, are not a condition of citizenship.

it's hard to imagine the social pressure to conform here. just try to be an eight year old sitting quietly while all around you are very POINTEDLY reciting the pledge while staring at YOU as if you have broken some law of the universe.

let's start with this: reciting the pledge is optional. STANDING for the national anthem is optional. we have procedure and standards for those who with to express patriotism in this way, but also  we have lesser known protocols for those who OPT OUT.

because it is your RIGHT not to participate.

i am going to suggest that if you are not saluting or standing or pledging, you ought to be doing it for a reason and not out of laziness.

look, i'm moderately patriotic. i believe that proper use and honor of national flags is a good way to show respect at certain moments in a ceremonial way.

but what if you object to the pledge on the grounds that it is a thing created in reinforce obedience in schoolchildren and had the words "under god" added to it later to satisfy christian nutjobs?

what if you think nationalism is bad? what if you wish to engage in civil protest over national conduct?

here's my personal procedure.  if i am at a patriotic ceremony, like a memorial day observance, in which the flag is an integral part, i will come to attention and salute (properly, as a citizen and not a veteran or serviceman. go ahead, look it up. we have a flag code.)

if i am in a church and there are prayers, i will sit respectfully. i have come into their space voluntarily and it's polite. if i am at a public meeting and there are prayers, i will ignore them. no head bowing, no standing. i just pretend there's nothing going on. i may read a book.

if the pledge of allegiance is being recited, i won't say it. i may or may not stand, depending on circumstance. i will usually stand for the national anthem of any country (and sometimes state) being played ceremonially.


but none of us are obliged to. and protest in this fashion is our RIGHT.

and let's go back to those children of families who did not observe the pledge in the painful days after 9/11. i knew those children and i knew where they would be and i quietly went to one of their classrooms every day at pledge time to quietly sit and not recite the pledge in solidarity. let the questions from the other children fall on me.

children who were just curious did indeed ask me.

i told them, if asked, that  there are a lot of reasons why perfectly good citizens of this country may not for one reason or another choose to say the pledge. for some families it is because they won't pledge allegiance to any country but the kingdom of god. yes, it's perfectly legal. no, it doesn't make them bad citizens. and we live in a country where you CAN make choices like that and we ought to celebrate that.

race in this country is complicated. colin kaepernick has the right to protest national conduct  and good for him for doing so. i am following the #veteransforkaepernick hashtag and i am seeing a lot of tweets from service men and women who have a better understanding of these issues than most of the people who are ranting about how terrible is its that a black man sat one out.

1 comment:

Zhoen said...

Well said. Thank you.


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