I remember a baseball game I went to with my father when I was in about first grade. It was just the two of us, I believe, and we were in our seats, and the game was about to begin. But first a song. After it was over, he looked at me with an air of wonderment and pride. “Where did you learn that?” he asked. “School,” I shrugged. “Huh. I didn't know you knew that.” On one level, I didn't think much of it; on another, I felt pride in the pride he felt in me. So much so that I remember the scene to this day.
I've had a mixed relationship with the “Star-Spangled Banner” ever since. How many times have I sung it? Too many. I get bored now. At the same time, I remember taking umbrage when friends in college suggested that it might not be the best song for our National Anthem, since it: 1) was hard to sing, and 2) ended with a question we never answer. Oh say, does that star-bangled banner yet wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? We never find out. Shouldn't we all sing “Yesssss!” at the end? For closure's sake? But not getting closure, keeping it open-ended, feels very American to me now. In the American experiment, nothing is guaranteed.
Particularly these days.
So how many more weekends will the “Banner” be an issue? And let's face it: It's an issue now not because Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee two or so years ago to quietly protest law enforcement shooting and killing unarmed black men. It's an issue because our megalomaniac president opened his piehole during an Alabama rally two weeks ago and fed the crowd red (state) meat:
That's a total disrespect of our heritage. That's a total disrespect of everything that we stand for. ... Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you'd say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He's fired!”
What precipitated this outburst? Nothing. The protests, which were few, hadn't really been in the news or in our consciousnesses. Trump made it all about him. As he does. The result? The number of on-field or locker-room protests zoomed from about 10 to 250. Question: If you're a Trump supporter, and you don't want players kneeling or sitting or remaining in the locker room during the National Anthem, has your man made things better or worse?
I'm surprised more fans haven't started taking a knee. That's what I want to do now, particularly after Trump doubled down last weekend:
Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem. Respect our Flag and our Country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2017
Remember how he wanted FBI Director James Comey to swear loyalty to him? That's what it feels like he's doing with our song. He's not only making the issue about him, he's making the song, and the flag, about him. It's part of his authoritarian instincts. Deep down, he probably suspects it's the only way he'll get any respect.
#Takeaknee, everyone. Take a fucking knee.