Editor’s Note: This article is not for the faint of heart. If you are easily offended, this probably isn’t for you.
Before I go into all this, you should know: I have a quirk regarding the National Anthem of the USA – The Star-Spangled Banner. Don’t get me wrong. I love how the tune came from some English drinking song. And how the lyrics were written from a prisoner ship during the War of 1812. And, as a musician, I love that it’s a hard song to sing — just ask Carl Lewis. I mean, it’s nice to see at least one thing in American culture that hasn’t been dumbed down, right?
But, but, but… I find myself turning the National Anthem off when I watch sports on TV if someone is about to sing it (I’m fine with instrumental versions) because I’m afraid the person will mess it up. This goes back to a drag strip in Pennsylvania in about 1988 when I had to stand through an out-of-tune amateur version sung by a girl who was friends with the owner of the track. Ever since then, I cringe when somebody steps up to the mic. And given some of the horrible performances of the Star Spangled Banner by even professionals over the years, I guess my phobia isn’t so irrational.
What I’m saying is, first, I’m not perfect when it comes to this particular topic. Second, my belief is that quality matters regarding the anthem — if you can’t get the words and tune right, you’ve embarrassed yourself and disgraced the song.
So, having set that all up, I have some theoreticals. Had Jimi Hendrix been playing the National Anthem that night, would C.K. have still sat? Or, would he have stood up to show proper respect for his fellow black American? Or, would have the overrated 49ers QB run out onto the field, snatched the Fender Stratocaster from Mr. Hendrix, slammed the thing to the ground like Pete Townshend, and told Jimi that as a black man he shouldn’t be playing the anthem with such passion given the travesties of 2016 America?
However, within that fantasy, a lot of truth can be found. The truth is the black people have it a lot better today than they did 47 years ago (Woodstock with Hendrix’s famous performance was 1969. C’mon people… ). The inner city murder rates, despite them still being horrible in cities such as Chicago, are better now than they were 47 years ago. Black people have much more opportunity now than they did over four decades ago. Interracial marriages are more common than ever. The Ku Klux Klan is now the punchline to many funny jokes. We have a black president. We’ve had two black Secretaries of State. Two black Attorneys General. We’ve had multiple black people on the Supreme Court. Black athletes dominate two of the four national sports of the USA.
But somehow, 47 years ago, despite the 1969 conditions, a rich black man still chose to practice for hours to master the Star-Spangled Banner so he could play it during his concerts. While now, a rich, black man can’t even stand up for a minute to acknowledge the song.
This isn’t what I call progress, people.
Oh, maybe some additional context is needed for those in the dark. That would be 47 years of law-mandated quotas. Diversity training. Food stamps. Midnight basketball. Black Lives Matter. Racial sensitivity seminars. The Great Society. Welfare checks. Court-enforced busing. Government housing. Jesse Jackson. Al Sharpton. Louis Farrakhan. Safe Zones. Trigger warnings. African-American studies. Gang culture acceptance. All of it in an effort to, allegedly, make blacks more like Jimi Hendrix. Instead, the result is we’ve gotten more blacks like Colin Kaepernick. Funny (Not Funny) how that works.
Yes, yes, I know, I know, Mr. Kaepernick is just expressing his free speech. Then I guess nobody will mind if I sit for the next instrumental version of the Star-Spangled because I am REALLY PISSED about the tax structure in this country. And that guy in the nosebleed section, he’s pissed about illegal aliens taking his job. And that woman behind home plate, she’s upset that abortion is still legal. And that transgender guy/girl sitting in the owner’s box is enraged that the polar bears are going extinct. Hey, everybody has a bitch about something.
I mean, before you know it, maybe nobody will stand for the National Anthem. Sure, the singer will still belt it out because ESPN’s parent company, Disney, wants you to download her new song about that orgy she had while on Ecstasy (is that still the “in” drug?). But the crowd will be more like passengers on a jet ignoring the flight attendant’s pre-takeoff mantra, despite it being that which may save all of them if their life slot machines hit “6-6-6.”
Then where will we be? Hey, even Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood up.
In fact, the hell with it. Let’s ignore not just the National Anthem, let’s blow off the flag. The bald eagle. Uncle Sam. The 4th of July. E Pluribus Unum. The Statue of Liberty (France can have it back). All of the war memorials. Oh… and Bo Derek too, because she encapsulates the hot, beautiful American woman (Love you, Bo).
My leanings in all of this go along with my beliefs about drug legalization. The world isn’t necessarily a worse place if one person gets high. Or even two. In fact, on a planet of over 7 billion, it’ll take a while before the effect of people checking out mentally is felt. However, that will eventually happen. And the acceptance of checking out will only quicken the problem. Keeping drug use as a stigma, if not illegal, slows it down.
So, I’m not concerned about Colin Kaepernick’s actions per say. I’m concerned about the next person who does it. And the next. All of them believing that their pet issue, no matter how horrible its conditions and results, is more important than the showing of respect for the song that is a symbol of being able to even have a pet issue.
What happens when we get to the point when only one person stands for the Star-Spangled Banner, and everyone else remains seated? What will happen to his rights? Do you believe the SJW’s of the world with their laser-like focus on human rights will spare that solitary person any criticism and vitriol? Do you think the BLM crowd will say that the guy is just expressing himself and ignore it? I think not. Even though it’ll be that lone human who is the only one properly paying respect to that which deserves respect, even if the country that it represents is imperfect (love the one you’re with, I guess).
However, this analogy isn’t parallel. And the difference lies at the core of each belief system.
The point I make on my show, America’s Conservative Podcast, is that the 21st century black rights movement is entirely based on lies. Lies about police. Lies about a black person’s ability to move up the economic ladder. Lies about Hands up, Don’t Shoot (never happened). Lies about what this or that race baiter will do for them. Lies about conservatives. Lies about Clarence Thomas. Lies about the GOP. Lies about Libertarians. Lies about corporations. Lies, lies, lies.
Whereas, the people who stand up for the National Anthem, they stand due to one truth: If we are not altogether — despite our political differences — then we are apart. If we cannot stand up to show respect for the National Anthem of a country where we are allowed to have arguments, then this country doesn’t exist. In Lincoln’s words, we are then that house which is divided against itself.
The paradox is the people who stand for the National Anthem believe in free speech more than the people who will now sit for it. Because the people who stand realize that in a representative republic, you win some and you lose some. It’s ugly. We call each other names, etc. But really, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
Whereas, it’s clear by this time that the “sitters” want results at any cost, even if it means curtailing somebody’s rights. If things need to burn, then they will burn. If stores need to be looted, then they will be looted. If elections need to be rigged, then they will be rigged. If cops need to be shot, then they will be shot.
At that point, I personally would give those people permission to sit down.