Twitter, and now the rest of the media has gone all atwitter over the latest hot take from the blue checkmark brigade:

It is apparently now considered “political” to conspicuously display the flag and express support for the military at sporting events. The twit (is that the proper word here?) went on to vehemently defend his position when people reasonably questioned such idiocy, saying that the flag, “in and of itself isn’t always political. A two-acre flag with a military flyover is saying something very specific, however.” He continued his defense with the tired tropes about dissent and patriotism, and accusing sport leagues of manipulating people for political purposes. He even referred to the flag as just “a piece of fabric”. Way to really show your patriotic bona-fides there!

We heard a lot of this sort of talk during the Bush years, and it’s interesting it was kind-of out of vogue for the past eight years or so. I wonder why. But fear no longer, nuance is back baby!

It’s true, I think, that the giant flags, recognition of servicemembers, and “God Bless America” refrains can sometimes be a little over-the-top in a commercialized sort of way. But commercialization is sort-of baked into the cake when we’re talking about billion-dollar industries based around adults playing a game, don’t you think? Leagues do this sort of thing because the fans love it, and it reinforces the sport’s connection with Americana. After all, the saying “as American as baseball and warm apple pie” exists for a reason.

It’s also a two-way street. Besides the league benefiting from the goodwill of its association with patriotism, it is a great recruitment and goodwill-building opportunity for the military and first responders. It’s pretty well known that the military pays for many of these sorts of events precisely for those reasons, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

The relationship between leagues and the military is certainly enough fodder for discussion, but what about this idea that such displays are inherently political? I suppose in some sense, waving the flag or singing patriotic songs are political acts. But not in the partisan sense the twit seems to be getting at. Somewhere deep in his responses he complains that Republicans have adopted the flag as a partisan symbol. And that is where this idea goes off the rails.

It is not partisan to sing the anthem, wave the flag, honor veterans, or fly jets over stadiums. That some leftists are embarrassed by displays of patriotism tells you more about where their own priorities lie than others. Waving the flag doesn’t mean you agree with every policy or action the U.S. has ever taken, just as loving your parents or children doesn’t mean you think they are perfect. If being proud of your country, despite its mistakes and faults, embarrasses you, I think you need to re-evaluate your perspective.

22 comments

  1. I don’t think you could deny its political. The dynamic is that one political party has decided they own the sports spectating business and bullies the other side out of it. Kaepernik wasnt told that he couldn’t take a knee during the anthem over black lives matter in specific terms, he was just left dangling by the league as people made death threats, disparaged him on sports talk and otherwise saw to ruining his career over it.

    So, in that instance sports wasn’t devoid of politics it was just that you’d better hitch yourself to the right wagon if you want to have a career in them.

    Same goes for the soccer player who joined in solidarity with kaepernik because she felt as a lesbian she wasn’t really granted equal rights under the flag so she took a knee. Again, I don’t think there’s an overt political statement with having the national anthem before a game but can you seriously say there’s nothing political about the jingoistic pornography of a 500 foot flag getting trotted out on a field accompanied by strike fighters, vets, country singers and marching bands? I think that kind of over the top pandering to a party is pretty implied.

    Right wing twitter loses their shit and craps their carhartt canvas work boxers over the content of a Beyoncé song at the Super Bowl or some mediocre quarterback daring to sit out a (by your measure) completely innocuous formality of a song and there’s no political bias?

    You being upset that some nobody on twitter is triggered implies bias. His bias is just interrupting yours.

  2. Someone is a “twit” if he just wants to watch a ball game without the GOP style in-his-face nationalism that obligates him to recite words to prove he loves his country? If he doesn’t comply is it cool with those around him or will he get beer thrown on him and jibes against his love of country, manhood, etc.? Yea, it is pretty political, at least these days. I don’t generally get all butthurt about it, but zoom, it is obviously a right-wing version of political correctness.

    In my mind, while flags and songs have always been traditional feel-good displays, genuine patriotism is not expressed through trappings. Patriotism is just a love of your country not what someone cobbled together (country music, really?). Patriotism is going on a wonderful international vacation and smiling when you come off the plane to the sights, sounds and smells of home. It is trekking across the country in a car instead of flying to see the Grand Canyon, the Rockies, the big ball of string because the country is beautiful. This has nothing to do with Dem/GOP versions of what it means to be an American or which political party is in power.

    As far as sport goes, the leagues and teams will do what their customers want. It is more fitting to put on the big displays for unique and special games and not run of the mill events. This looks to be the opening of the new Braves stadium and a larger display of “whatever” seems appropriate. This is the south so I am mildly surprised that a monster truck didn’t leap over the flag. Many people love that shit here. It is the obligation of participation that is political. If you sit down or “take a knee” because you don’t feel like singing or for whatever reason, you get a ration of shit from already drunk local rednecks. If it is bad when liberals do it (and it can be) then it is when conservatives do it.

    Why is discussion of dissent “tired”? Dissent has been popular on the right over the last eight years. It is as relevant today as it has ever been.

    I just spent four days over Easter with family staying with me. In typical fashion, we had to table politics because of stupid decades old stereotypes and conflicts just like this. My brother thinks that “Ossoff” sounds too “muslim” when an actual muslim was running as a Republican in the same election. It is pointless to defer to the “no religious test” stuff in the otherwise much revered constitution. My inner bitch wishes the runoff was Ossoff vs. Mohammad Ali Bhuiyan.

  3. Sorry, Kaepernick didn’t have anyone ruin his career but himself. He wasn’t really all that good to begin with. Their defense carried them largely. Also he was never told he couldn’t take a knee, he did it with no repercussions. He doesn’t have a job right now because he’s not good enough for a team to bother with him and his views, and how they impact their bottom line. Oh and don’t forget his infamous “police are pigs” socks. No business wants that type of negative pub.

    He doesn’t have a job for the same reason Ray Rice didn’t the year after his fiasco with hitting his wife, THEY ARE NOT GOOD EENOUGH. They are not good enough to outweigh the bad pub the team will get. Its a business. They are in it to MAKE MONEY.

    Guess what, these people work for someone else. Inflammatory political statements are not allowed at my place of work. Why would they be allowed at his?

    Supporting the military isn’t a “partisan” thing unless you are so against the any military you cant see straight. WWP, VA, VFW, AL, all of them are in their own way supporting the military, none of they are “political” on their face, sure some of the members may be political and discuss politics, but the organizations themselves are not.

  4. It is the obligation of participation that is political

    Right! Isn’t this the Right’s version of value signaling? It’s not enough to love this country — you need to tell everybody that you do. You need to be seen loving this country. You need to wear the lapel pin.

    “If you don’t wear the pink vagina hat, you don’t support females!”

  5. Whether he’s good enough or not remains to be seen. If he goes to the Texans and redeems himself on that team, which is Super Bowl ready otherwise, then what?

    Sure, I saw his numbers and they were dismal, but he’s a mediocre (notice I said mediocre?) quarterback on the almost worst team in the nfl. His career was not ruined by being on a shitty team. Does anyone call cam newton a shitty quarterback? His team went to the Super Bowl and can’t break .500 now.

    No, his career was ruined (not his aptitude to play the game) the minute he decided to take a political stand that hairlipped the jingoism cheerleaders in the league.

  6. btw I don’t know where you work but your political leanings, and freedom to speak about them, raise funds for your party of choice, etc. ARE protected by the first amendment. If you don’t feel like you can exercise them you need to sue your employer and retire. It is not “inflammatory” to take a knee for the anthem. A statement, maybe, but even the NFL was very careful tell kapearnik (and his teammates, and the rest of the league) they were well within their rights to kneel for the anthem. If you’ll remember others did initially as well. The NBA has a clause where they will fine players for kneeling during the anthem but they will not be fired over it.

  7. I really want to understand why you think waving a giant flag, singing patriotic songs, or jet flyovers is a GOP-Republican thing and not an American thing. That’s why I said this in the post:

    It is not partisan to sing the anthem, wave the flag, honor veterans, or fly jets over stadiums. That some leftists are embarrassed by displays of patriotism tells you more about where their own priorities lie than others.

    What exactly is the problem with standing to honor the flag during the national anthem? Why is this so hard for an American to do?

  8. You obviously payed no attention to what happened to SF’s defense in the 2 years after the SuperBowl run, it was decimated. most of the good players were either in too much trouble with the law (Aldon Smith anyone?) or left due to free agency. As soon as they were actually forced to rely on CP to really preform, he shit the bed, hard.

    He was mediocre due to the defense carrying the offense with insane amounts of 3 and outs and a great turnover differential which obscured CP general ineefectivness. To his credit, he wasnt a big turnover machine himself, so that did help a little.

    BTW Jay Cutler hasnt been signed, and hes LEAGUES better than CP.

  9. That is a really good question, zoom and I am glad that you asked. The reason it has become a “GOP” thing is because the GOP wanted it to be, hijacked it and have refused to believe that anyone that is liberal and/or has a “D” behind their name means it. I doubt that most liberals are actually “embarrassed” by such displays. Everyone that I know, liberal or conservative, stands up and plops their hand over their chest and recites the words. EVERY SINGLE TIME. 1000’s of times in their lifetimes. How many times before I am believed without question?
    Conservatives are “sick” of leftist political correctness and won’t acknowledge that it even exists on the right.
    This goes to the heart of one of the stated goals on this blog. I have recited the pledge and anthem 1000’s of times in my lifetime. During the 1st Obama candidacy we placed an Obama sign in the yard and it was stolen and replaced with an American flag. We took it as a threat. What do YOU think it meant?
    I guess you could say the reason that some liberals are not fond of these displays of patriotism is the same as the reason that Trump won’t release his tax returns. They will be used against us.

  10. That is a really good question, zoom and I am glad that you asked. The reason it has become a “GOP” thing is because the GOP wanted it to be, hijacked it and have refused to believe that anyone that is liberal and/or has a “D” behind their name means it. I doubt that most liberals are actually “embarrassed” by such displays. Everyone that I know, liberal or conservative, stands up and plops their hand over their chest and recites the words. EVERY SINGLE TIME. 1000’s of times in their lifetimes. How many times before I am believed without question?

    Wait just a minute here. The second part of this paragraph belies the first. If everyone you know, left or right, has no problem saluting the flag and singing the anthem, then de facto such displays are American and not owned by the right or left.

    Now to the first part, the only reason it seems “hijacked” by the right is because so many people on the left have made conspicuous displays of rejecting patriotism, and rejecting the flag. You see it all the time on the left, but never on the right.

  11. You obviously are not arguing anything to do with this post, but I like sports so fuck it. Dude, why even have a coach or any other position on the team when blaming an unpopular quarterback feels so much better? Jay cutler? There’s a prime example of a quarterback who has done seemingly nothing in his career better than kaepernik aside from managing to stay on his feet during the national anthem. He’s an injury prone sack of wuss and not even 1/4 of the athlete kaepernik is. He’s also another quarterback running on empty, but I’m sure he knows when to strategically haul out a camo trucker hat like Rodgers and warm your cockles.

    We can go around for centuries on something stupid and marginal like this but my point stands that kaepernik’s name is mud because dickless old men that are ruining the NFL won’t hire him because they’re afraid he won’t stand for the national anthem. He’s completely redeemable by almost any other measure.

    Btw your “it was the defense that made him great” is ironically hilarious because the defense is the only thing that got a wrinkly white sack of manning to the promised land and then propped up a pathetic bro k osweiller long enough to unload HIS sorry ass to the Texans only to later be cut.

    Have any more examples of failed quarterbacks who keep playing simply because they stay upright during an anthem?

  12. Nothing says I love this country like a five hundred foot flag circling a field, some r&b virtuoso belting the star spangled banner in every perceptible octave achievable, a multi million dollar orgy of jet fuel wasted on stealth jets doing a top gun buzzing of the tower and fireworks show.

    Anything less than a North Korean arsenal parade makes it an occupy Wall Street gathering.

  13. What I would like to know is why the right catches such a bad case of sandy beach bikini bottoms when an athlete exercises one of the rights this nation and the people on the right say they champion? Is it the right to exercise free speech they hate or insulting the stars and bars god?

  14. So people shouldn’t speak out when they see a public figure expressing an unpopular opinion? I mean, it’s pretty simple why people were upset. For the most part, criticism wasn’t that he didn’t have a right to express himself (though there is some fair debate over a professional athlete’s obligations as a representative of his club and in a professional setting), it’s that people vehemently disagreed with what he was doing.

  15. Now to the first part, the only reason it seems “hijacked” by the right is because so many people on the left have made conspicuous displays of rejecting patriotism, and rejecting the flag. You see it all the time on the left, but never on the right.

    This is true, zoom. I agree with you. This is also what pfluffy was getting at, too, to some extent. The difference lies in the fact that a liberal is more likely to scoff at a person who isn’t standing and singing during Take On Me during the Nationals game than they are at a person who isn’t standing and singing for the anthem. 😉

    She mentioned it above — it’s the forced participation that makes it partisan. It’s uncouth to be conservative and not show absolute attention to all displays of national pride. That view is then applied to liberals by conservatives. Conversely, liberals have no such need to display their patriotism on their sleeve if they choose not to. We usually do, as pfluffy pointed out, but we don’t consider it mandatory and we don’t condemn those who do not.

    I’m also sure that not *every* conservative is offended when they see somebody refraining from a display of national pride. But just as the outright rejection that you described is uniquely a tool of some leftys, the condemnation of abstainees is uniquely a tool of some rightys.

    For comparisons, I would relate it to how liberals tend to fall over themselves trying to overtly demonstrate how “woke” they are while condemning conservatives who don’t display the same overt display of support for all things progressive.

    But you’re right on your assertion that patriotism is not owned by either side, nor is its politicization. It’s just that the rules are different on what’s acceptable.

  16. He’s speaking out. They speak out. That’s fine. I’d even accept the “so what if cops are dropping black men faster than a kardashian family reunion invitation, don’t take it out on the flag.” That’s a perfectly valid point of view to make. To be honest I supported kaepernik’s RIGHT to protest peacefully, and his CHOICE to use his celebrity to endorse whatever causes he deemed worthy. I dropped my support of anything he was doing as a shit show when he said he wasn’t going to vote. That, to me, is when worthy cause turns into limp dicked pathetic display for attention.

    Sure, be angry and call it tacky that he refuses to stand for the anthem. However, forming lynch mobs hell bent on destroying his career and personality seems to be a tad excessive and anti-American for an exercise of free speech, no? I took the time to go through his twitter account and his money is where his mouth is. It was full of blm retweets and political endorsements. He is someone who saw what he believed to be injustice in the world and decided to bring attention to it the only way he felt he could, rightly or wrongly. I think that’s at least worth allowing him to speak.

  17. Kevin did a great job of clarifying this. We are having a difficult time expressing it because the rules are different. Instead of seeking clarification, we play gotcha! games with each other but we are playing on different game boards most of the time. Each side doesn’t trust the other to acknowledge it.

    zoom, I don’t see much right-wing flag desecration, but I saw plenty of Obama burning in effigy. Would you not equate the two? As much as I loathe Trump I would not enjoy seeing him burned in effigy. I may have snickered at burning effigies of Bush, but as we have all discussed, I disavow that type of thing today.

  18. Burning in effigy? Oh my. I think people should be free to do so but wowee you can’t get much more offensive than that. I vehemently disagree that such speech is in any way productive, and frankly think it is beyond the pale in political discourse.

  19. I am generally ok with it, but there are times when it goes way over the top.
    on the subject of singers of the national anthem… I am half inclined to have instant death penalties handed out to those that blatantly belt out atrocious national anthems.. Any more its become a sad sad farce.

    the Major League Clubs are businesses, and f they want to do away with flag waving and flyovers.. then its their call.

    I do thing that the overall RAHRAHRAH thing can be toned down a bit, but still its nice to see people have respect for the nation and what it is intended to be, even if for a few minutes.

  20. My point still stands, Cutler is STILL a better QB than CP. Cutler has no Job, why would CP, I disagree with your assessment based on viewable facts. Cutler IS a better QB, that not arguable.

    Of the FA that are available right now CP and Cutler are the 2 best, Ryan Fitzpatrick and RG3 are right behind them. If RG3 or Fitz gets picked up, I will entertain your argument. Honestly if it wasn’t for the injury issues I would put RG3 first.

  21. Dude, there is freedom of speech at work, but there is also freedom to fire. Speaking about politics and or religion at work is a recipe to be fired.

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