This latest thing with athletes kneeling during the US national anthem confuses the heck out of me. I support anyone’s right to protest peacefully, of course, as a form of free speech; it’s just that I’d have thought that kneeling was a deeper expression of respect than standing.

  • I grew up in a religion that stresses not kneeling to anyone but God (as have other religions including parts of CHristianity). Hebrew school included stories of martyrs who were executed for not kneeling to various kings.
  • I also grew up in a city that stresses US Revolutionary history because so much of it happened there. It was a big deal, establishing protocol in the infant US government, and they specifically rejected kneeling before his Majesty the President, because free men do not kneel.
  • But I’m not sure how much of all that these athletes know. Are they just trying to attract attention? Or are they saying symbolically that they’re still slaves?

And all that is even ignoring the more basic question of “How is the Star Spangled Banner” even suitable for a national anthem? Canadians pledge to “stand on guard” for their country; Brits express allegiance to their ruler. The French call themselves to action; others hail their homeland express hope for the future of their country. How does “Hey, the flag didn’t get shot down on one night of a battle 200 years ago” work as an anthem? (It’s too bad we can’t use America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee) instead, because that DOES have an appropriate message, but the ENglish got to the tune first.)

On another topic, speaking of free speech reminds me of Jim Wright’s 9/11 post, that got pulled down from Facebook, which made me think of what I was saying the other day about math and mortality – only a different sort of math. Wright pointed out that 3000 people were killed on 9/11/01, and to avenge them we spent the lives of 8000 of our own and killed 300,000 or more in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Side note: it’s hard to see how anyone can claim the US is a Christian country while so thoroughly forgetting “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord”.) It doesn’t seem like a very good deal in terms of pure numbers. Maybe it would have been worth it to make an important point, just as men volunteered for WWI in the hopes that it was a war to end all wars. Unfortunately, we seem to have succeeded about as well as they did.