Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What we have here is a failure to communicate

Even today, two days after the Sunday NFL games, the lead story everywhere seems to be the argument over the national anthem protests. The ostensible president made this the main focus of his communication with the public even as a U.S. territory of 3 1/2 million people descends into mass starvation. (Just for example, there is no running water in any hospital in Puerto Rico right now.)

The Twitter-in-Chief has apparently not miscalculated -- by most accounts, not only his fans but a majority of people disapprove of the protests, strongly enough to weaken their allegiance to their beloved teams.

Tyler Cowen offers some perspective on the anthem and sporting events. The practice of playing the anthem before every game started in World War II, then it just continued after the war was over. It's worth asking what playing the anthem and saluting the flag has to do with playing games in the first place. But, since we're stuck with it, let's remember that freedom of political speech is a fundamental value that the flag is supposed to represent, and that people have every right to interpret or reinterpret the ritual as they choose.

The players who kneel, or lock arms, or choose not to be on the field at all during the ritual are not "disrespecting the flag," they are invoking its purported meaning as a symbol of justice and equality. And even if you think they are "disrespecting" it, it is a piece of colored fabric. We don't worship graven images. A popular meme right now, in case you didn't know, is an American flag rendered in blue and white. It's supposed to represent support for the police -- or  perhaps support for their right to murder black people with impunity. Is that "disrespect" for the flag? What if I say it is?

Let's just get over this and start worrying about reality, not symbols.


Anonymous said...

I disagree that symbols are unimportant.

Nations and cultures are bound by common language, race, ethnicity and national symbols. Well, we ain't got any of those in common except national symbols which makes them all that much more important.

It will be interesting to see if the NFL owners remain committed to all of this nonsense if the ratings go down.

First and foremost, NFL is a business. And if business suffers, things will change.

Don Quixote said...

Saw a great bumper sticker today: "Stop pretending your racism is patriotism."

Also, the remarks were great that exposed the asshole-in-chief's un-fuckin'-believable hypocrisy: he won't criticize neo-Nazis, but foams at the mouth at brown athletes!

The Nation's Dave Zirin points out that Trump never played football, and he got deferments for war service--i.e., he is a wuss with a small dick who wants to show the world how "manly" he is, when he's completely the opposite). It explains a lot of his rhetoric; and it explains the anger of a lot of people who are, unfortunately, stupid enough to conflate peacefully opting out of standing during the war anthem with disrespecting military troops. May I point out that it is also an error to think that our troops have been "defending freedom" around the world. They are enforcing American hegemony and American capitalism. Liberal college professors and philosophers and conressional members are doing more to "defend freedom" here and around the world than soldiers. As usual. But we are a breathtakingly ignorant society. That is why so much mass opinion is so off the mark. The documentary currently showing on the Vietnam war is showing me how our government has constantly, consciencelessly lied to us through our history. I don't know why I'm surprised that a country founded on racism would lie about its intentions!

Don Quixote said...