Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Respect Optional ?

The NFL skipped the National Anthem before Monday night's Miami Dolphins/Pittsburgh Steelers game.
No doubt the NFL had what it would consider valid business reasons: there had been a weather delay, and television time is expensive, but this is simply not acceptable, and hopefully the NFL finds other corners to cut in future.


louielouie said...

just as long as no teddy bears named mohammed are offended, we'll be just fine.

Candidly Caroline said...

It's pretty crappy that they skipped it.

El Jefe Maximo said...

I suppose ditching the national anthem would not offend me so much if it were an isolated event, but it's the trend that troubles me -- trivalizing or ignoring national symbols; belitting patriotism as the refuge of suckers or know-nothings; and the spreading of the, to me, pernicious idea that flags and countries are interchangable. I wouldn't pay attention if the broader national culture didn't seem to be in such distress.

Symbols, and the respect we choose to give them, or not, are important. The Teddy Bear named Mohammaed is a case in point. Just a simple factory-made toy from China. But some clever people have made it a symbol -- to demonstrate, by persecuting an English school-teacher, their ability to scare us into giving their religion some kind of special deference, at the expense of our rights, sanctified by more
symbols like the National Anthem = to speak and think as we please. Quite aside from the question of whether it was wise for this teacher to behave in this way in a foreign country, of a predominantly different religion, the Sudanese clerics who have orchestrated this business have made the political and religious calculation that drawing this line -- giving the English teacher a flogging -- advances their politics and religion. The clerics in the Sudan sure understand symbols. But we yawn over ours. Who is making more sense here ?

Returning to the national anthem and the flag ceremony: all we have and are -- all that our parents and grandparents and theirs and their parents before them were, said and did, is all bound up in the flag and the nation that lives around us. Their work and pain went into giving us the ability to ignore or revere symbols such as the flag and our unsingable national anthem as we choose.

We're rich and happy compared to the rest of the world. May we and our children ever be able to afford to watch spectacles put on by well-paid executives in air-conditioned offices who make the snap business judgment to ditch the flag ceremony because the TV time is seemingly so precious. Hopefully we can always afford candidates for the highest public office in the land who tell worldwide TV audiences, with a straight face, that they do not wear American flag pins because they want to be "speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security."

We find that we're rich enough and powerful enough to have a big margin to survive thoughtless insults to the past, to the dead and to their deeds. May it always be so.

Most of the rest of the world lives a whole lot closer to the knife than we do. Ask the Kosovars if they think the flag over the local soccer stadium is unimportant.

May it never have to matter to us like that again. But I worry that someday we will find that ignoring the meaning of symbols will leave us no national security to speak out for or to guard.

If people have no household Gods but money and self, and are taught or allowed to reject their traditional symbols -- they'll just find other Gods and symbols to put in their place. I don't much like some of those choices on offer.

louielouie said...

my original comment was intended to be a sarcastic comment directed at TV execs and legacy media in general.
it was obviously not taken as such.
my apologies.

El Jefe Maximo said...

Gee LL, I wasn't meaning to take anybody's head off...sorry if it sounded that way. Was just feeling Phil-o-sophical or something.

Chris said...

Next to the Australian anthem with its confusing "girt", the SSB is the most incomprehensible around. It is is hard to sing properly and even most Americans don't know the words, still fewer what on earth they mean and refer to.

It is hard to sing and when the full version is sung it is interminably long and excruciatingly boring.

In any event it's only a Johnny-come-lately for a national song having been so only since 1931.

Unfortunately for the rest of the world the practice of gurgitating the SSB at the every opportunity of more significance than the opening of an envelope has set a fashion throughout the rest of world. Other countries' citizens now have to stand solemnly listening to their national tune when they could have been enjoying themselves or at least not having to stand up wondering what to do with their hands.

Do yourselves (and us) a favour, keep the SSB for special occasions like when the Preznit is around. Overt patriotism has got you nowhere and brought you only tears.

El Jefe Maximo said...

I'll keep nationalism and patriotism, thank you, and the unsingable Star Spangled Banner, particularly the last verse, that generally is not sung.

The fading of patriotic and national sentiments on the part of some philistines never fails to astonish and repulse me. If abandonment of national attachment is part of the modern, globalized world, than I am only too proud to reject it.

As Scott put it:

"Breathes there the man with soul so dead,Who never to himself hath said,'This is my own, my native land!'
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd As home his footsteps he hath turn'd From wandering on a foreign strand?"