“Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” - Samuel Johnson, 1775
While historians are unsure what the exact context was of Johnson's quote was, and who his verbal dagger was pointed towards, the idea holds true more today than ever.
In 2018 America, patriotism is being hijacked by those who want to use the flag as a cover over their racism, hatred and bigotry. They chant slogans like #AmericaFirst #MAGA (Make America Great Again) and #BuildThatWall
These are the types of people that have an unhealthy attachment to the national anthem (on multiple levels), believe the unconstitutional and indoctrinating Pledge of Allegiance was a brilliant idea or take the pedestrian melody of God Bless America and believe the cheap pop song grants divine rights.
Patriotism is not demonstrated by wearing clothes made from the flag. This act, by definition, is actually unpatriotic, because it disrespects Old Glory. The U.S. Flag Code reads as follows:
“The Flag Code addresses the impropriety of using the flag as an article of personal adornment, a design of items of temporary use, and item of clothing. The evident purpose of these suggested restraints is to limit the commercial or common usage of the flag, and, thus, maintain its dignity.”
A real definition of patriotism can be found via Mark Twain: "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it."
Or if he's way too liberal for your tastes, how about Teddy Roosevelt:
“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”
The #MAGAheads and their brand of "patriotism" is that befitting of scoundrels. When their guy won, the President of the United States of America is Dear Leader who can never ever do no wrong. When Barack Obama was in charge, these same people saw the POTUS as a Kenyan born Muslim terrorist socialist who OMG! puts dijon mustard on a sandwich!
Unfortunately, the National Football League caved in last week to the scoundrels.
The ruling to penalize those who protest during the national anthem is so stupid and maladaptive on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to even begin in vivisecting this.
The NFL pandered to meatheads and right-wing troglodytes who successfully spun a new meaning on to what Colin Kaepernick and the millions of Americans who kneel in protest or march in solidarity were doing.
Trump is the lead scoundrel, as he and his ilk took the message of wanting Black Lives to matter and racist unjust violence perpetrated by police against people of color to stop.
They took true patriotism, standing for the ideals of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and rebranded it as disrespecting the anthem and the flag.
Very dumb and excessively shallow people fell for it, and thus so did the NFL as they pandered to the lowest common denominator.
In response to the NFL owners vote to fine teams if players on the field refuse to stand for the national anthem, the National Black Worker Center Project (NBWCP) Executive Director, Tanya Wallace-Gobern, released the following statement:
"The NFL's decision to fine teams and blackball players who do not kneel during the national anthem is an obvious display of white supremacy and white privileged thinking. A player's kneeling has never been about patriotism. The irony is that while owners attempt to make kneeling about respect, the players are kneeling in opposition to the disrespect and oppression of Black and communities of color.
“This is more proof that America is stuck in a destructive and divisive cycle of bold and blatant bigotry and racial hatred aimed at people of color. Here we have a majority, white-owned sports league that profits off the labor of majority Black athletes.
“This is also more proof that regardless of professional status, income level, educational attainment, or family background, Black workers are targeted in the workplace to reinforce America's outdated notion that White is right.
“The National Black Worker Center Project will continue to highlight the NFL's actions, and the action of all U.S. institutions, corporations and businesses that offer egregious examples of racist workplace discrimination and illustrate what #WorkingWhileBlack means.”
This topic has already been beaten way beyond a dead horse, and I find it truly sad that I have to address it yet again.
I've written about it, in length, several times already and it's pathetic how so many people can't just accept this very simple fact- NFL Fans have checked out due to business, not political reasons. Ratings continue to fall because the league hasn’t figured out how to adjust to a media landscape that is dramatically changing overnight. Ratings are NOT falling because the league isn’t
#MERICA or MURRICA!!! enough.
For all you people who wear a "Kid Rock for Senate" hat, or an "America World War Champions" t-shirt, I hope you read all these links and learn something.
As someone who has the American flag emoji in my Twitter handle display, wears a 1776 shirt in his avatar, runs a website that's colored red, white and blue for a living and named this blog after Thomas Jefferson's interpretation of patriotism, I still find today's climate of flag-waving and MERICA!!! to be way too excessive.
Especially so at the 102nd running on the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. Yes, the Indy 500 has always been a paragon of jingoistic activity, but 2018 took it to another level. The Greatest Spectacle of Racing includes FOUR national anthems, not one.
-a rendition of America the Beautiful
-a brief speech on the meaning and importance of Memorial Day
-playing of Battle Hymn of the Republic
-a Christian prayer, for all 350,000 people in attendance
-playing of God Bless America
-an Armed Forces promotional video
-the national anthem, followed by a B-2 Stealth Bomber flyover
-Back Home Again in Indiana (this was awesome by the way! As it was sung by the incomparable Jim Cornelison! This was indeed a transcendent experience)
Did you get all that?
It's like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway said "we see your jingoism, NFL, and we raise the stakes significantly. Let's hope this over the top nationalism doesn't spread to other sports! In business school, I took a political marketing class and for my term paper, I wrote about American patriotism, jingoism, nationalism and the differences between the three.
It was during the height of George W. Bush era excessive flag-waving, and I didn't think patriotism could ever be more corrupted and hi-jacked as it was then. I see today that I was wrong.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now and Minute Media. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.
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