Anthem Sprinting

by Henry on September 26, 2017

Tyler Cowen on American reverence for the Star Spangled Banner:

At a rally on Friday and on Twitter since, we have seen President Trump taking pokes at NFL players who do not show what he considers sufficient respect for the national anthem, namely by kneeling in protest during the song (is it so bad to kneel in public on a Sunday?). On the other side, some NASCAR team owners have threatened to fire drivers and crew members who don’t show proper respect during the anthem. Such disputes won’t improve the quality of either our sports or our politics. We live in a country where very often the concession stands don’t stop operating during the anthem, nor do fans stop walking through the concourse. We’re fooling ourselves to think that current practices are really showing respect for the nation or its military.

This reminds me of one of Ray Bradbury’s short stories, “The Anthem Sprinters,” based on his experiences in Ireland while working on John Huston’s Moby-Dick. The story isn’t available online (though brief summaries can be found here and elsewhere, but the plot is straightforward enough, concerning an American visitor’s discovery of a peculiar national sport. Since there was a requirement after all cinema performances that the Irish national anthem, a peculiarly lugubrious number called “The Soldier’s Song,” be played, and since Dublin cinema goers were more enthusiastic about getting to the pub to get a round or two in before closing time than about demonstrating their fidelity to the national ideal, they used to rush towards the exits in a class of a race, to avoid having to stay and stand through the rendition. Bradbury’s suggestion that this was transformed from a disorganized herd-like stampede into an actual sport is probably poetic exaggeration, but I don’t doubt that the underlying practice existed.

I’m sure that I’m not the only imported American to find the required sincerity of American nationalism a bit disorienting – it’s not what I grew up with in a country where even the greenest of 32 counties Republicanism was shot through with ambiguities. It’s not just a right wing thing either (the Pledge of Allegiance having been famously written by a socialist). Nor did I realize until the recent controversy that one of the verses of the “Star Spangled Banner” apparently looks forward to the death of American slaves freed by the British who fought in their regiment. A little more ambiguity and anthem-dashing might be no bad thing.

{ 84 comments }

1

Jim Harrison 09.26.17 at 4:00 pm

Standing for the anthem or repeating the pledge of allegiance a pure gesture of loyalty. The meaning of the words don’t matter. Jerusalem is the de facto anthem of England, but the wild radicalism of its author is long forgotten. And I doubt if very many Frenchmen are all that bloodthirsty or still mad at Bouillé. The real issue isn’t the lyrics but to whom one must express fealty; and the apt analogy, especially in the Trump era, is to the Roman practice of sacrificing to the Emperor. Trump, who personalizes everything and hasn’t got a patriotic bone in his body, is accusing the gladiators of lese majeste.

2

rootlesscosmo 09.26.17 at 4:09 pm

Movie audiences in England likewise used to rush for the exits in order not to be trapped by the obligatory playing of “God Save the Queen.”

3

medrawt 09.26.17 at 4:11 pm

The required sincerity is not a new thing, but new aspects are always being added to it and then treated like traditions handed down by George Washington. The NFL didn’t require players to be present on the sidelines during the anthem until 2009; prior to that point they could be in the locker room doing whatever the hell they wanted during the song. My elementary school social studies education somehow neglected to teach me that the flag and anthem represented the sacrifice of American soldiers rather than the ideals to which I pledged allegiance every morning, but now I find it taken for granted by millions that a protest of the flag is, above all else, an insult to dead soldiers, always the most potent weapon of American rhetoric. As someone who was raised to take seriously the symbolism of the American flag and the ideals I was taught it stood for, I am continually angered by the reduction of the flag’s image, and associated patriotic rituals, to kitsch, and have no patience for getting lectured on this stuff by loud patriots spilling beer on their American Flag t-shirts.

4

Glenn 09.26.17 at 4:24 pm

Great points, Tyler.

I would be interested to see how many flag and anthem symbol worshipers would run to the exits if the ceremony followed the games in America, instead of preceding them.

How many would sacrifice their speedy exit from the parking lots in order to perform a ritual showing of respect?

5

Glenn 09.26.17 at 4:26 pm

I mean Henry!

Sorry for the mistake.

6

RobinM 09.26.17 at 4:31 pm

Ah, yes, those were the days. The same sort of rush for the exits at the end of a movie was quite the thing to do when I was growing up in Scotland too many decades ago. But if you didn’t quite make it out through the exit, etiquette seemed to demand that you had to stand, one foot out the door, until the anthem ended and Her Majesty had disappeared from the screen. On one occasion, however, my brother decided he wouldn’t be able to make it out so he just sat in his seat through the whole patriotic exercise. After the anthem ended a little old lady walked up behind him and hit him on the head with her umbrella.

7

CJColucci 09.26.17 at 4:57 pm

Before 2009, stadiums played the anthem and then brought out the teams. Probably no particular reason; this was just the way they did things. This was changed precisely to create a political spectacle. Maybe we should go back to the old practice.

8

DCA 09.26.17 at 5:08 pm

I believe that God Save the Queen used to be required after British cinema, with the same results. Hopefully this thread can inform us about the practice elsewhere.

9

Glenn 09.26.17 at 5:15 pm

Since America is a capitalist nation it is appropriate that a market based solution be imposed.

Since time is money, let the market decide the value of the anthem ceremony.

Choose to spend your “time/money” either waiting for the ceremony to end or waiting to exit the parking lot after a post-game anthem ceremony.

10

Mike Furlan 09.26.17 at 5:18 pm

Trump, a wholly owned subsidiary of Russia finds that some other people are not being properly respectful to the flag? Our Korean adversaries were right, that is the sound of a feeble old dog barking.

11

Stephen 09.26.17 at 6:29 pm

Difficult things, national anthems.

There’s the bit in the Marseillaise about impure blood (that is, English or German) flowing in the furrows of our fields. Any modern European speaking of the impure blood of other peoples might not be well received on CT or equally enlightened sites.

Can’t help wishing I could remember more of the version, from the German advance in 1914, when the French government as is customary on such occasions fled to the safety of Bordeaux, shouting over their shoulders orders for less eminent Frenchmen to stand firm:
Aux gares, citoyens!
Montez en vos wagons!
Fuiyons, fuiyons
Qu’un Boche obscur
Parait aux horizons.
Further quotations welcome.

Then in God Save the King there are verses not often sung now: one praying that Marshal Wade might crush the rebellious Scots – and with due deference to CT’s Australian Jacobite, I would suggest that in 1745 most Scots were not in fact rebellious, and welcomed the crushing of those who were.

Orwell I think pointed out that the verse containing “Confound their knavish tricks, Frustrate their politics” is usually omitted, being thought to refer to the Tory party.

I can’t remember the original words to Deutschland ueber alles but I think they set the boundaries of Germany way beyond anything the EU would currently regard as acceptable.

But as far as Francis Scott Key welcoming the defeat and death of former slaves fighting for their freedom: well, there you are, that’s US history for you.

12

Heliopause 09.26.17 at 6:50 pm

Trump and our elite media have a stunning success together. They’ve made the Anthem protests about everything except what they’re supposed to be about.

First and foremost, they’ve made this about Trump. Our elite media has decided that absofuckinglutely everything has to be about Trump and Trump himself is more than happy to play along. A protest that began long before Trump took office has now been joined by every ostentatiously antiTrumper in the country, drooling the usual liberal cliches about “divisiveness” and “unity”. Or maybe the meta-reason is some vague thing about the right to protest. The Anthem protest isn’t supposed to be about that, remember?

The Anthem protest is supposed to be a reminder that we live in a violent police state. Remember? What, you forgot already and now it’s all about TRUMPTRUMPTRUMP? Or kum-ba-ya moments of locking arms? Trump & Elite Media: Mission Accomplished.

How about this, the best way we can honor this protest is by saying out loud, “we live in a violent police state that harasses, arrests, and sometimes even kills racial minorities for no good goddamned reason at all.” And then try to figure out the way forward for changing that, which will be long, brutally hard work. Longer than the 90 seconds it takes to sing the national anthem.

13

ccc 09.26.17 at 7:58 pm

“The story isn’t available online”

It is available here https://archive.org/details/anthemsprinterso00brad . Access requires a (free) Internet Archive digital library card.

14

Phil 09.26.17 at 8:08 pm

I read somewhere that the current ‘tradition’ of having players stand demonstratively for the National Anthem before games goes all the way back to 2009. Don’t know how true that is. In the UK, too, it’s very hard to imagine even the playing of the national anthem at domestic sporting fixtures being normalised. Then again, the anthem used to be played at the end of cinema programmes in the UK, too. In short: everything changes, sometimes even for the better.

15

JanieM 09.26.17 at 8:30 pm

16

William Timberman 09.26.17 at 8:38 pm

On the subject of cornpone American idolatry, I prefer e. e. cummings take.

17

JanieM 09.26.17 at 8:44 pm

http://www.snopes.com/nfl-sideline-anthem/

Snopes article on the NFL and the military and $.

18

Howard Frant 09.26.17 at 8:47 pm

We Americans like our patriotism reflexive. No one has condemned Mitch McConnel’s really shocking lack of patriotism in refusing go along with Obama alerting people to Russian interference in the election, or the GOP’s tendency (McCain excepted, of course) to draft dodging.

But the flag has been politically radioactive since Bush 41 made an issue of Dukakis vetoing a Pledge of Allegience bill. I think Dukakis could have fought back over the fact that the Attorney General told him it was unconstitutional (Fantasy: “Some people think that the symbols are more important than what they stand for…”) but candidates from Massachusetts don’t fight back. Bush was completely sleazy (this was also when the Willie Horton ads were running) doing a photo op at a flag factory, etc. When Bill Clinton got the nomination, they made a big show of having everyone recite the Pledge.

As for the anthem, it does have the problem that most people can’t sing it. After 9/11, people were singing “God Bless America.” But no politician will ever suggest changing it; they have better things to spend political capital on.

19

Hidari 09.26.17 at 8:57 pm

@11

The Spanish national anthem (and those of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and San Marino) is the best.

It has no words.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcha_Real

20

Alan Morgan 09.26.17 at 9:38 pm

An excerpt from the 1940s-set British comedy about the Home Guard, “Dad’s Army”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uOYs4V6SGc

It suggests that in the early seventies, when the series was broadcast, nostalgia for the practice of anthem sprinting existed, even if there was none for the practice of playing the national anthem in the cinema. I think they stopped doing it around the time of the Suez crisis.

21

John Quiggin 09.26.17 at 10:29 pm

Trump has so far been quite successful in transferring his toxicity to everything he touches (and, conversely, increasing the popularity of everything he opposes). It will be interesting to see if he can discredit flagwaving jingoism.

22

dave heasman 09.26.17 at 11:47 pm

“There’s the bit in the Marseillaise about impure blood”

We sang an English translation in primary school – “Let their vile blood be flowing o’er the land..” – with some gusto

23

floopmeister 09.27.17 at 12:37 am

I hope no one tells Trump about Thailand…

Standing for the King before every movie is shown in a cinema is a serious business there:

https://youtu.be/hn2j63jYw9s

Interestingly, the song is not the national anthem, but a personal paean to the King – and for the previous king this was usually a song that he himself had composed.

You are pretty much forced to stand for the King personally – and there are some pretty stiff penalties for disobeying:

On April 22, 2008, Chotisak Onsoong, an ardent republican who objects to the degree that monarchy is revered, and Chutima Penpak, a devote Muslim who object to the idolization of human beings, were charged with breaking lèse majesté laws for not standing when the Thai national anthem was played at a cinema. They launched a campaign called ‘Not Standing is No Crime, Different thinking is No Crime’. A cyber petition has been launched at http://www.petitiononline.com to collect signatures to support their cause. Some Thai signed the petition to support Chotisak and his friend. Some, however, cursed them and told them to leave the country. [Source: Prachatai, April 22, 23, 2008]

Chotisak said he did not have any intent to insult the monarchy, and his ‘sitting still’ did not constitute an offense against the monarchy. He cited Articles 4 and 28 of the constitution that guarantee the rights and freedoms of Thai people to choose to do or not to do anything in accordance with their beliefs and faiths. And he called for the lèse majesté law, or Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, to be revoked, as it has been used to restrict people’s rights and freedoms and goes against the constitution. “Many people have exploited the lèse majesté law to destroy their enemies, without taking any responsibility. And the interpretation of the law has become ever broader to the point that anything can constitute a lèse majesté offence”, said Chotisak. [Ibid]

Describing what happened Chotisak told Prachatai: “On September 20, last year, we went shopping and saw a movie [in Central World shopping complex]. We didn’t stand up for the Royal Anthem [which precedes every movie in Thai cinemas], as I had usually not stood up. A man whose seat was two seats away from us turned to us, saying ‘Stand up’ [in English], as he probably understood us to be foreigners, but we sat still. He waited until the anthem finished, and then he went to call the cinema staff to deal with us, while the movie was starting. However, the staff didn’t do anything, but, instead, tried to calm him down. We later knew his name was Navamintr. [Ibid]

On his reasons for not standing up, Chotisak said: “If the law states that this is against the law, I will abide by the law, as the law has the real power over us. But I understand that it is not against the law, so I chose not to stand. According to some people, to stand up for the Royal Anthem may not be required by law, but it’s a tradition. Is this really a tradition? I remember reading an article, probably published on a website, that says previously the Royal Anthem used to be played after the movies finished, and no one bothered to stand, but just rushed out to go home. That was back in the reign of King Rama V, when the anthem was first introduced in theatres. The idea the anthem should be played before movies is even newer. So at what point are things considered tradition? Talking about traditions vs. rights, one finds that there are many traditions which people do not follow, and no one seems to bother. If violators of tradition are to be punished, many more jails need to be built. Traditions are man-made, not unlike laws. If they’re not appropriate, not right, anachronistic, or against people’s well being, they can be revoked. There were similar cases. For example, in 1979, there was a supreme court verdict giving a jail sentence to a man for not standing up and saying, ‘What song is this? Don’t understand a word.’ This is unlike my case where, even though I didn’t stand, I respected the rights of those who wanted to stand. I gave them my respect for their ritual observance by choosing to sit still.”

http://factsanddetails.com/southeast-asia/Thailand/sub5_8b/entry-3205.html

What’s not for Trump to like?

24

Yankee 09.27.17 at 1:14 am

In the US we play the anthem _before_ the event, so running away isn’t realistic. Many will sprint for the gates to avoid the traffic afterwards, but not necessarily staying until the end so not sporting.

25

alfredlordbleep 09.27.17 at 1:23 am

But the flag has been politically radioactive since Bush 41 made an issue of Dukakis vetoing a Pledge of Allegience bill. —Frant @18

I also recall in ’89 that a NYT editorial protested flag-burning (and in support of Bush 41’s demagoguery)*. I always say burning Bush, wrapped in a flag, would be symbolic speech joyfully aimed at dousing this rabble-rousing. Of course, the literal-minded can’t make this step.

Fundamentalism keeps it simple.

*It was summer so maybe the Times regulars were on vacation.

26

BBA 09.27.17 at 3:16 am

Setting aside the protests, which should continue as long as we have police, I say change the anthem to the more singable and comprehensible “America the Beautiful.” Or maybe “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

27

faustusnotes 09.27.17 at 4:32 am

Of course America has to play the national anthem before domestic football games because there is no ball game played by other countries that they can win at, so they need to pretend their domestic game has political value in order to salvage their self respect. Perhaps if they gave up this stupid game and played rugby they wouldn’t need to do something as ridiculous as playing the national anthem at domestic games.

(Oh how I would love the USA to become a top level rugby country!)

I read recently that Xi Jinping proposed a law to force Chinese to stand solemnly to attention during the anthem, a move that attracted the usual media outrage about China being repressive. Yet in America you don’t even need a law – just social pressure and moral conformity. So much for your much-vaunted “freedom of speech”!

28

JAFD 09.27.17 at 4:49 am

Wondering if anyone has noticed that you can take the theme music for “All Things Considered” (USA, Nat’l Public Radio) and use it to sing the lyrics to “Deutschland Uber Alles ?”

29

Howard Frant 09.27.17 at 4:59 am

alfredlordbleep@25

I also recall in ’89 that a NYT editorial protested flag-burning (and in support of Bush 41’s demagoguery)

I was curious, so i lookerd it up for you. Here’s one from ’90; if it’s the one you’re thinking of, your memory seems to have done the Times an injustice.

http://www.nytimes.com/1990/06/14/opinion/we-the-people-and-our-flag.html

30

Tabasco 09.27.17 at 6:31 am

More from the Marseillaise

What! These foreign cohorts!
They would make laws in our courts!

Obviously written before EU law became a thing.

31

TM 09.27.17 at 8:01 am

Rituals like anthem playing at non-state events (where I used to live, even the local symphony orchestra was required to start every performance with the anthem), worship of the flag by school children, and generally the ubiquity of national flags, these are hallmarks of totalitarian societies. From the outside, what amazes most is that even liberal Americans hardly seem to mind the exceptional jingoism. What other countries have comparable rituals? North Korea I guess. Any others?

32

alfredlordbleep 09.27.17 at 8:08 am

Me @25

Oophs, meaning burning in effigy. . . in case the FBI missed that.

33

Fake Dave 09.27.17 at 12:16 pm

I can’t stand Key’s mediocre poetry or the horrible English drinking song it’s been set to. Hardly anyone can sing it well. The semi-famous singers who get trotted out at sporting events to lilt and trill their way through it usually either completely butcher it, embellish it beyond recognition, or draw it out so long they seem to be actively punishing their captive audience. I mean, lots of national anthems are really bad because they almost all emerged from the same late Victorian nationalist up welling of pomp over substance that almost killed classical music, produced a lot of very boring novels with very long sentences, and saddled a bunch of countries with tricolor flags, Great Seals with laurels and women in helmets on them, and more official flowers, birds, rocks, and nicknames than anyone knows what to do with.

In a way, the colonial territories got off easy because at least they had a good excuse to abandon their kitschy Victoriana for something actually appealing. South Africa has one of the best flags around and “Oh, Canada!” may be lacking in substance, but at least it’s catchy.

I really wish we in the United States would start acknowledging to ourselves that this absurd patriotic burlesque isn’t what it means to be an American. People in the Civil War marched to tunes like “John Brown’s Body” and “The Battle Cry of Freedom” and, yes, “Dixie.” Sure there were old tunes like “Yankee Doodle” in the mix, but much of it was the vibrant, topical, and contemporary music of the people. It was only after the war, when the revolutionary generation and their children were dead and the Blues and Grays were getting on in years that we as a country decided that loving our nation meant venerating its past and ignoring its present.

As for Dixie, well that tacky old minstrel tune just refuses to stay dead, but when it gets stuck in my head, I like to think of the Northern version. It’s amazing.

34

GeoX 09.27.17 at 3:37 pm

Whenever I go to sporting events, I try to just mill around in the concourse area ’til the anthem’s over so I don’t have to engage in flag-idolatry.

35

harry b 09.27.17 at 4:40 pm

Do they still do it in theatres in Ireland? I saw Oklahoma! at the Gaiety on my first ever night in Dublin, and was horrified when everyone stood for the national anthem (and then relieved when I realized it wasn’t God Save the Queen, so I could stand, thus not risking offending my hosts). That was April 1982.

36

Mike Furlan 09.27.17 at 5:24 pm

Lincoln claimed that Dixie was a war prize and lawful property of the Union.

rhapsodyinbooks.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/april-10-1865-president-lincoln-asks-the-band-to-play-dixie/

37

Stephen 09.27.17 at 6:15 pm

JAFD@28: it has also been noticed that one can set words to the effect of “We are right, they are wrong” to many national anthems.
USA: We-e-e are ri-ight, the-e-ey are wrong, we are right, they are wrong, we are right they are wrong.
UK: We are right they are wrong, we are right they are wrong, we’re right they’re wrong.
France: We-e-e are right and they are wrong, we’re right and they are wrong.
Germany: We are right and they are wro-o-ong, we are right and they a-are wrong.
Don’t know if anyone can fit these words to “Advance, Australia fair”.

38

john c. halasz 09.27.17 at 6:16 pm

#27:

Umm… baseball.

39

anonymousse 09.27.17 at 6:50 pm

I guess I’ll argue with all of you. The issue really isn’t kneeling during the National Anthem-in spite of the fact that the football players do it, and in spite of the fact that Trump said it. And we all know it. The issue is that athletes are dictating to their customers how to vote. If you started a faculty meeting by telling everyone else how to vote in terms of abortion/gun control/the upcoming senatorial election/whatever, you would be in bad taste (I’d say you’d be fired, but academics are protected from being fired in a way the private sector isn’t). If you worked for private practice, and did the same thing (start a client meeting by telling the client to vote Republican. Start a meeting with the people who hired you to do web design that they need to vote against the Wall/etc/etc), you might well be fired-and you might well lose the contract, because the customer doesn’t agree with you. You don’t have the freedom of speech to tell other people how to value, or how to vote, or what political opinions to have, while on the job. That is a given that we all absolutely know. It also applies to millionaire professional athletes-if the customer wants to be lectured by his hired millionaire, he can. If he doesn’t, he can tell the hired gun to can it, or fire him. It appears that many NFL fans don’t want to hear it.

I disagree with most of you politically, and I am glad Trump is president. But really, if you are going to be academics*, and pretend to have a ‘broader’ view of the issues; why are none of you stating this? We all know this is what is going on. Its absolutely not a freedom of speech issue (as the Left says), and it is absolutely not a ‘disrespect to the flag/army/nation’ issue (as the Right says). The ‘National Anthem’ is just the kabuki theatre aspect of it. This is simply the athletic equivalent of ‘Shut up and sing!’ When I pay Greenday money to play guitar for me, I’m not paying them to hector me about global warming (even though they do-thus, I don’t pay them anymore). When I’m paying steroid addicts to run with a ball, I’m not paying them to tell me how to vote (even though now they do-I’ve never been a fan, but if I were, I’d stop).

anon

* lt’s fc t. cdmcs r nt ppl wh r wll rd ngh t ndrstnd sss bttr. Th r ppl wh r wll rd ngh t s bggr wrds t mk th sm shllw rgmnts tht dts mk.

40

novakant 09.27.17 at 7:17 pm

I remember being very surprised on New Years Eves in Ireland that the whole raucously drunk crowd would suddenly put on a serious face and sing the national anthem – only to go back to drinking themselves silly the moment it was finished…

41

M Caswell 09.27.17 at 8:31 pm

As far as difficult-to-sing, quasi-obligatory songs go, the anthem is a walk in the park compared to the execrable “Happy Birthday to You.”

42

Michael 09.27.17 at 9:06 pm

Looks like maybe the whole anthem thing started with baseball. See

http://www.espn.com/espn/story/_/id/6957582/the-history-national-anthem-sports-espn-magazine

The juicy hint here is that playing the national anthem at baseball games was a wizard commercial wheeze adopted by teams after it seemed to buck up ticket sales at the unexciting 1918 World Series. How All-American can you get?

43

hix 09.27.17 at 10:30 pm

Fortunatly, that you have to stand up for national worship thing is typically not something one has to endure in Germany. When i learned about the pledge of alegiance at school during English lessons, my first thaught was “thats horrible”. My second was however, “youre going to a staate school and still you are basically forced to stand up and pray from a catholic prayer book every morning, that one would be an improvement”. But to be fair to German schools, that was rather untypical. When i switched school, the prayers were gone (even so i was still in an all catholic class (classes are usually seperated by relgigion due to the obligatory 2 hour a weak religious education).

44

sanjiv 09.27.17 at 11:56 pm

1. In Indian cinema theaters, the national anthem must be played before the movie begins but people need not stand. The Supreme Court opined on this matter of grave importance last year.

2. Henry might not be the only one disoriented by the “required sincerity of American nationalism”. I am reading David Runciman’s very interesting book “Confidence Trap”, where he quotes Tocqueville observing Americans during a reading of the Declaration of Independence:

“It was as though an electric current moved through the hearts of everyone there. It was in no way a theatrical performance…Here was something profoundly felt and truly great.”

45

F. Foundling 09.28.17 at 2:33 am

@ Jim Harrison 09.26.17 at 4:00 pm

>Standing for the anthem or repeating the pledge of allegiance a pure gesture of loyalty. The meaning of the words don’t matter.

Well, it should. Saying (and doing) things as a mere gesture of loyalty without caring about their content is a terrible habit that has always had terrible effects.

>And I doubt if very many Frenchmen are all that bloodthirsty or still mad at Bouillé.

The ‘bloodthirsty’ lines of the Marseillaise express a commitment to freedom and readiness to fight those (foreign or co-citizens like Bouillé), who seek to deprive one of it; if many Frenchmen lack that commitment, that’s a problem with them, not with the idea that one should pay attention to the words of an anthem.

> Jerusalem is the de facto anthem of England, but the wild radicalism of its author is long forgotten.

It shouldn’t be forgotten. The basic ambition to build a new England far better than what it is in the present, as expressed in the text, is not only radical, but also perpetually relevant.

In general, while all anthems are doomed to be sung by rote, their words do have meaning and do matter.

@ Stephen 09.26.17 at 6:29 pm

>There’s the bit in the Marseillaise about impure blood (that is, English or German) flowing in the furrows of our fields. Any modern European speaking of the impure blood of other peoples might not be well received on CT or equally enlightened sites.

This is taking a quotation out of context to imply racism. Of course, the idea wasn’t that all representatives of the nations in the First Coalition as such were subhuman; the ‘impure blood’ line was conventional invective against perceived villains, in this case the enemy regimes and those fighting for them. Among the Revolution’s leaders, representatives and officers, there were Germans (Anacharsis Cloots, Nicolas Luckner) and Englishmen/Americans (Thomas Paine); the Revolution definitely wasn’t about blood-and-soil ethno-nationalism.

@ Fake Dave 09.27.17 at 12:16 pm

>It was only after the war, when the revolutionary generation and their children were dead and the Blues and Grays were getting on in years that we as a country decided that loving our nation meant venerating its past and ignoring its present.

Well, changing one’s anthem every few years or decades is hardly practical. Also, I don’t think that this kind of enshrining of specific historical moments/snapshots is necessarily a bad thing. After all, the basic devotion to values like freedom need not and arguably should not vary between nations; what varies and makes individual nations unique is precisely the concrete historical situations associated with that devotion. Something like that applies to individual humans – what makes us unique are our different specific memories, experiences and life histories, even if they are, ultimately, merely instantiations of the same basic, universal aspects of the human condition.

46

Dr. Hilarius 09.28.17 at 2:44 am

The conflation of standing for the anthem with respect for America’s military and war dead is something new, part of this country’s slide toward outright fascism. My family lived on army posts and air force bases, many in the deep South, and I never heard anyone make such a connection. The anthem and the pledge of allegiance were revered but identified with overall US values, not the military in particular. Non-observers were few and mostly ignored.

47

Mario 09.28.17 at 7:12 am

Trump has so far been quite successful in transferring his toxicity to everything he touches

Trump has so far been immensely successful in focusing people’s attention on trivialities. I sometimes wonder if it is plausible that this is all accidental, as after all the media go along with this very nicely. The Russia BS and all sorts of scandals like the anthem absurdity are just distractions from the fact that the Trump government is very successfull by its own standards.

48

maidhc 09.28.17 at 8:14 am

Although I’m not an American, I did attend public school in North Carolina in the early 1960s. In the three years I was there we never once sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” or recited the Pledge of Allegiance. I believe that the parents would have burned down the school rather than make any obeisiance to the hated Yankee flag.(The school actually did burn down, but I’m not sure that was the reason.) When the TV stations went off the air they used to play the Mormon Tabernacle Choir version of “Dixie”.

The Pledge of Allegiance originally went “with liberty, equality and justice for all”, but “equality” was removed specifically to get the southern states to adopt it, but it didn’t work.

It was Nixon’s Southern Strategy that got the South to accept the American flag and national anthem. I think people don’t remember how unpopular these were in the South before that. In the 1950s expecting people to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the South would have been nonsensical.

Aside from being racist, the song is virtually impossible to sing. In the memory of my in-laws the anthem (unofficial) was “Hail Columbia”. I’d go now for “Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies” with the line about God replaced by “Sweet land of liberty”. That would be a nice tuneful anthem.

I’ve been to public meetings in Ireland when they sang the national anthem at the end. At that time there were still people around who had fought in the War of Independence, so I can see why that would be a thing to do. The Irish national anthem has a decent tune, although the words are a bit bloodthirsty. If you have no Irish, is cuma leat.

49

Lee A. Arnold 09.28.17 at 10:57 am

I think that flags are good for easily identifiable short-hand labelling, as in here:

50

J-D 09.28.17 at 12:28 pm

anonymousse
Just at the moment, just walking around my local area, I regularly see signs in shop windows suggesting how I should vote (specifically, they are suggesting that I should vote ‘Yes’). (Note, suggesting, not dictating; they have no power to dictate to me; neither do the football players have power to dictate to you; your use of the word ‘dictating’ is a flagrant shameless lie.) Perhaps some people walking past don’t like seeing signs telling them they should vote ‘Yes’. If they don’t, the remedy available to them is not to go into those shops. You probably have a valid objection to being required to do business with somebody who is presenting a political message you don’t like, but it’s not a problem if you’re not obliged to do business with them. Nobody is obliged to attend football games; if they don’t like the political message they get when they do, they can stop going to the games. They should stop going to the games anyway, so there’s really no problem.

51

Francis Spufford 09.28.17 at 2:06 pm

Surely we cannot let this moment pass without recalling Morporkia! Morporkia!,/i>, the national anthem that says out loud what other anthems are content only to imply:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAqCbOJc6RU&w=560&h=315%5D

52

Layman 09.28.17 at 2:29 pm

anonymousse: “The issue is that athletes are dictating to their customers how to vote.”

Well, none of the kneelers have said anything about how to vote. They’re protesting police misconduct. If you see that as telling you how to vote, it must be that you think the current situation – that police officers are shooting unarmed black men in disproportionately large numbers for no reason remotely connected with public safety, that police chiefs are endorsing their actions rather than disciplining them, that prosecutors are declining to charge them, and that juries are declining to convict them – exists entirely because of who is being elected. Is that what you think?

53

efcdons 09.28.17 at 4:39 pm

I grew up in Australia and then moved to America and finished high school in St. Louis, MO. As a child I went to a Jewish day school (a specifically Zionist school in Melbourne) and I remember singing “Advance Australia Fair” and “Hatikva” (The Israeli national anthem) but I can’t remember if it was once a week at an assembly or once every term at a special assembly or what. It certainly wasn’t every day. When I was older I went to Melbourne Boys High School and we also sang the Australian anthem but I don’t think it was even once a week. In America I really don’t remember singing the American anthem at school ever. This was a public school, but a fairly liberal one in St. Louis County. We must have at some point but it wasn’t often. And I never saw anyone say the pledge of allegiance.

The biggest difference was with the anthem at sporting events. I used to go to a lot of AFL games (I was an Essendon junior member for years) and I never remember the anthem. The only time I definitely saw the anthem sung before an AFL game was at the Grand Final (the AFL’s superbowl).

Of course, they would play the anthem of each nation before international sporting events like at the cricket, international soccer games, rugby, etc. But I’m pretty sure it was just played over the speakers and it wasn’t some person singing the actual song like they do it in America. Maybe that’s changed now. Though I lived through the Howard years so I can’t imagine Australia has become more jingoistic than it was back then.

Maybe America needs to do what they do in a lot of Australian domestic sports leagues like the AFL and instead of the anthem play each of the team’s team song before and after the game. I used to love singing “See the Bombers Fly Up” at the start of the game and even harder when they would play it after the ‘Dons won.

My stepfather is American and a huge baseball fan so we would go to a lot of Cardinals games when I still lived at home or came home during college break (he has been a season ticket holder since like 1989). I haaaate “God bless America” and I got in to fights with people in the stands (just verbal, mostly. One time I had a “hold me back!” kind of altercation) because I refused to stand up. I stand for the anthem out of propriety, but not that song. Though I love standing to sing “take me out to the ball game” in the 7th inning. That song rules. “God bless America” feels on the wrong side of in your face jingoism like that horrible Lee Greenwood song. The fact it started to be sung at the baseball only after 9/11 reinforced my impression. As if the point was to implore god to actively take sides in a stupid war against goat herders in some impoverished country thousands of miles away.

54

Suzanne 09.28.17 at 4:43 pm

@47: It is not accidental. Trump is race-baiting. Everyone knows that the protesting players are black and why they are protesting. He knows what gins up his base.

@7: In a way it’s chickens coming home to roost for the NFL, which has always liked to wrap itself up in the flag and celebration of the military. Trump is using the owners’ own cynical ploys against them, and in a way it is a pleasure to see, particularly since there are so many Trumpistas among them.

I will say I never expected to see Jerry Jones taking a knee with his players. So Trump did accomplish something – he forced me to think nice thoughts about Jerry Jones and the Cowboys.

@26: “America the Beautiful” could also be advantageously substituted for “God Bless America,” which is almost as ubiquitous and annoying as the national anthem.

My own favorite anthem, which is also refreshingly brief:

Hail, hail Freedonia!
Land of the brave and free!

55

anonymousse 09.28.17 at 5:53 pm

“Well, none of the kneelers have said anything about how to vote. They’re protesting police misconduct.”

Of course not-you are being pedantic, and you and I (and everyone else) know it. I wrote ‘dictating to their customers how to vote’ as shorthand for ‘tell other people how to value, or how to vote, or what political opinions to have.’

“Perhaps some people walking past don’t like seeing signs telling them they should vote ‘Yes’. If they don’t, the remedy available to them is not to go into those shops. You probably have a valid objection to being required to do business with somebody who is presenting a political message you don’t like, but it’s not a problem if you’re not obliged to do business with them.”

Of course! You are agreeing with me! The football players don’t have a freedom of speech concern! The fans are not obliged to do business with them! The fans don’t like what they are doing, and are expressing themselves (Shut up and sing!)! If it upsets them enough, they will stop being fans!

I’m glad at least one person here gets it.

anon

56

Steve 09.28.17 at 7:04 pm

A bit off-topic, I know, but I honestly think that support for Welsh nationalism must gain about 10 percentage points from the fact that ”mae’r hen gwlad fy nhadau’ is such a great anthem to sing.

57

Lee A. Arnold 09.28.17 at 7:11 pm

Anonymousse #39: “The issue really isn’t kneeling during the National Anthem…”

You got this part right at least.

The current kerfluffle over U.S. televised sports looks like a classic case of moral compensation emerging from the subconscious, this time among Trump voters.

They (and you, apparently) have gravely dishonored their own country by electing a racism-whistling pussy-grabbing foul-mouthed weakling braggart. Even worse, all of the children took clear notice, poisoning the country for generations to come.

The realization of this moral horror has slowly begun to knock on the skulls of many Trump voters. It’s a dim, dull pain. It is growing within them like a malignancy. The discomfort was inevitable, and the acceleration of discomfort was predictable (and predicted) if Trump didn’t get anything real accomplished. If he had accomplished anything, they could have pointed to his accomplishments, to justify their bad judgment back on Election Day.

To be cured, the Trump voters would have to admit to their own culpability in the national embarrassment. Little chance of that! They haven’t even owned up to the fact that on the eve of the war, they were among those who were all-in-favor of invading Iraq.

Now instead, the Trump voters need somebody else to blame, to blame for something, almost anything. This is how it works: The individual psychological mechanism proceeds by deflection, by self-denial, by attempting to avoid embarrassment. But it would have to come at the social level, which is how this was reinforced at the outset. We see a sudden epidemic of psychological projection, of projecting one’s own immorality onto a kneeling athlete. Television handily makes it work.

Trump found them somebody to blame, found another issue for them to be angry and resentful about.

58

Ogden Wernstrom 09.28.17 at 8:16 pm

@36 Mike Furlan 09.27.17 at 5:24 pm

Lincoln claimed that Dixie was a war prize and lawful property of the Union.

[ link ]

I see that something called “Heritage Network” used the same citation in something titled Why Cities Shouldn’t Take Down Confederate Statues. I didn’t read it, but I assume I would find it a humourous article. However, today there is some risk that Trump followers may think that a President’s spoken words create law; they probably wonder when Hillary will report to prison.

The likely misinterpretation of that cite of Lincoln’s extemporaneous remarks reminds me of… Some Trump supporters thought NPR tweeted ‘propaganda.’ It was the Declaration of Independence.

59

J-D 09.28.17 at 8:56 pm

anonymousse

Of course! You are agreeing with me!

Not entirely, obviously, since I pointed out explicitly that your reference to ‘dictating’ was a shameless flagrant lie.

The fans don’t like what they are doing, and are expressing themselves (Shut up and sing!)! If it upsets them enough, they will stop being fans!

Oh, I do hope so. The more people who stop being football fans, the better.

60

F. Foundling 09.28.17 at 9:35 pm

Speaking of God Bless America! @ 45:

It turns out there was also a song from 1834 with the same title, and its first verse included the exclamation: And where’s the land like ours can brave | The splendor of the day, | And find no son of hers a slave? | God bless America!

The fact that anyone could write these lines in 1834, unironically, is impressive. It seems almost as if Americans of African descent were so invisible to some authors at the time that the metaphorical use of the word ‘slave’ in reference to the subjects of monarchies had displaced in their minds the literal meaning that referred to a phenomenon present in their very midst. It even makes me a bit less certain whether what appears to be the historians’ current consensus on the meaning of ‘hireling and slave‘ in Star-Spangled Banner is correct, and whether it isn’t, after all, more akin to the Marseillaise’s ‘Que veut cette horde d’esclaves, | de traîtres, de rois conjurés?’. In any case, it’s beyond question that, in later years, F. S. Key was an ardent anti-abolitionist, and one can scarcely doubt that in 1812, he had absolutely no sympathy for the escaped slaves that joined the British (as most white Americans probably didn’t). I still like the US anthem, mostly for its quaint randomness, lyrical and musical. If you are going to have an anthem (or a religion), why not at least make it so irrelevant, outdated or absurd that it’s impossible to take seriously? The same goes for God Save the Queen.

61

F. Foundling 09.28.17 at 10:36 pm

Re anonymousse @ 09.27.17 at 6:50 pm, 09.28.17 at 5:53 pm

I have little sympathy for the ‘shut up and sing’ position as a principle – it is not inherently wrong to make a political statement while on the job: surely we can all imagine *some* evils of sufficient magnitude that they are worth protesting against even at the cost of annoying some of the customers. It’s a matter of judgement. This applies especially to professions such as singers, entertainers, writers etc., in which presenting one’s personality, feelings and thoughts is very much part of the job – which is exactly why ‘shut up and sing’ sounds like an oxymoron. The disemvowelled part of the comment, while perhaps somewhat impolitely worded, is the only part that I agree with in substance to some extent. Indeed, academics, and intellectuals in general, do not necessarily understand issues better, and their learning is often simply an additional weapon that they use in favour of the ‘team’ that they have joined for whatever reason – that applies not only to politics, but also to small-scale university intrigues and sometimes even to scholarly debates. Learning and intelligence are often merely valuable resources that one sells, or rather hires out, to the highest bidder; the more knowledgeable and talented one is, the higher the price one can get for lying. This is depressingly obvious even in non-political matters, but ideologically, it is perhaps easier for me to recognise than for others here, since academics and intellectuals are usually right-wing in my country (in contrast to the West, where it is mostly the Right that is motivated to focus on their flaws).

Mario @ 09.28.17 at 7:12 am:

>Trump has so far been immensely successful in focusing people’s attention on trivialities. I sometimes wonder if it is plausible that this is all accidental, as after all the media go along with this very nicely. The Russia BS and all sorts of scandals like the anthem absurdity are just distractions from the fact that the Trump government is very successful by its own standards.

This observation and the linked article are absolutely correct, and furthermore – yes, as you suggest, it takes two to tango. If the Democrat/liberal side and their media had wanted to focus on the real and practical harm that the Trump administration is quietly causing, they would have. From day 1, it was obvious that that wasn’t the front that they were interested in fighting on.

62

faustusnotes 09.29.17 at 12:42 am

john c. halasz, nobody takes baseball seriously.

I’m amused that annonymouussse doesn’t pay Greenday to lecture him on global warming. So you pay money to listen to punk bands, but you don’t pay for the lyrics? Maybe classical music is more your thing.

63

John McGowan 09.29.17 at 1:44 am

I am late to the party but re anonymousse @ 39: I will trade shutting down football players telling us how to vote for forbidding tycoons to fund political campaigns across the whole country while also running independent PACs that tell us how to vote.

64

Collin Street 09.29.17 at 2:27 am

Of course not-you are being pedantic, and you and I (and everyone else) know it. I wrote ‘dictating to their customers how to vote’ as shorthand for ‘tell other people how to value, or how to vote, or what political opinions to have.’

An inability to tell the difference between a request and an instruction — or an inability to regard the distinction as meaningful, which amounts to the same thing and is implicit in your dismissing the distinction as “pedantic” — is no-shit-for-real a genuine, actual-clinical, language impairment. That will lead to severe communication and thus social consequences, and almost certainly already has.

Like I keep saying.

[the slightest breath from outside the self is intolerable pressure; only by insulating people from the social consequences of their choice can they chose freely.]

65

anonymousse 09.29.17 at 2:50 am

“I am late to the party but re anonymousse @ 39: I will trade shutting down football players telling us how to vote for forbidding tycoons to fund political campaigns across the whole country while also running independent PACs that tell us how to vote.”

No deal. I’ll just do my part to defund the NFL. You’ll have to rewrite the first amendment yourself.

anon

66

JA 09.29.17 at 3:37 am

Here in Bangkok the national anthem is played on the media at 6pm everyday and this includes the park where I take my daily walk. At 6 pm everyone in the park comes to a halt. It is quite a sight- there are hundreds of joggers in the park at this time – and I find myself stirred by the feelings of respect displayed by Thais. I realise that this particular issue can arouse different views in many other countries, but as a foreigner I have no problems in respecting Thai values, and the only people in the park who can be seen walking at 6pm are startled tourists who usually quickly adopt the local mores.

67

bad Jim 09.29.17 at 4:32 am

I attended a performance of Handel’s “Messiah” by the Pacific Symphony and was flabbergasted when the audience rose for the “Hallelujah” chorus. Apparently this is the custom hereabouts; fortunately they didn’t sing along.

68

Layman 09.29.17 at 5:28 am

anonymousse @ 55, I’m not being pedantic; I’m pointing out the consequence of your ‘shorthand’. If you believe that a protest against police violence perpetrated on black men is a way of signaling who you should vote for (or what you should value), then you believe that the actual violence against black men is a consequence of who has been elected and what those elected people (and their voters!) value. That’s a pretty incredible admission.

69

faustusnotes 09.29.17 at 5:33 am

It’s also worth noting that a lot of the people who want the football stars to “shut up and sing” (wtf?) also want them to be role models for young people, encourage them to donate to charity, expect them to wear special uniforms on the execrable “salute to service” week, and support firing them if they do things in their private life (like beating up a girlfriend, or engaging in dog fighting) that have no direct bearing on their work performance. They also, hilariously, demand that football players turn up to press conferences and speak to the media (enforced speech! Leading to the “I’m just here so I don’t get fired” hilarity). So these players are forced to answer media questions about their attitude towards their game, their personal lives, and often politics; but if they voluntarily simply take a knee on a political issue, they should be sacked.

This has been episode 7345689 of why conservatives are hypocritical dipshits.

70

Layman 09.29.17 at 5:37 am

F Foundling: “If the Democrat/liberal side and their media had wanted to focus on the real and practical harm that the Trump administration is quietly causing, they would have.”

What would that have looked like? I mean, I read the linked article, and reviewed the list of claimed accomplishments for the Trump administration, and I recall ‘the Democratic/liberal side and their media’ focusing on every one of them.

I can’t be bothered to do it for you, but maybe you should use the google, explore each of these accomplishments (though it seems odd to call announcements ‘accomplishments’), and see how ‘the Democratic/liberal side and their media’ reacted to them. I don’t think you’ll find that the answer was ‘silence’.

71

dax 09.29.17 at 10:53 am

I’m not sure what the rule is, but national anthems are played before at least some football (American soccer) matches between countries – friendlies, World Cup qualifiers, and World Cup matches. It would be considered extremely disrespectful for players not to stand at this time. In some countries it is considered disrespectful if their players don’t sing their national anthem while it is being played.

72

Dipper 09.29.17 at 12:20 pm

For any rugby fans the Welsh National anthem is always a real treat, particularly when sung before playing England as demonstrated here

England vs Ireland is always a strange one, with an anthem for some in the Ireland team, an anthem for all in the Ireland team, and an anthem for the England team and those in the Ireland team not covered by the first anthem.

73

Mike Furlan 09.29.17 at 12:55 pm

@58

Thanks Ogden, I appreciate your skepticism. But Donald and Sandburg also believe it happened.

And knowing this doesn’t stop me from wanting every shrine to white supremacy taken down.

74

F. Foundling 09.29.17 at 2:35 pm

me @ 09.28.17 at 9:35 pm

In retrospect, and in fairness, I must admit that I was wrong to imply that the Star-Spangled Banner is ‘so irrelevant, outdated or absurd that it’s impossible to take seriously’ – that was a very exaggerated statement, it’s just somewhat quaint and stern. I also have to recognise that the text of America the Beautiful is richer in ideas and more humane in spirit, in spite of all the God stuff. All in all, different songs have their different charms, but whatever the text and the lyrics, I’d say that the greatest virtue of any national anthem is not being played or heard too often, and this seems to be the real problem in this case.

75

Suzanne 09.29.17 at 5:59 pm

@61: “If the Democrat/liberal side and their media had wanted to focus on the real and practical harm that the Trump administration is quietly causing, they would have. From day 1, it was obvious that that wasn’t the front that they were interested in fighting on.”

If The New York Times and The Washington Post can be called “their media,” both papers have been regularly running articles on the under-the-radar damage being inflicted by the Trump Administration on the regulatory environment and the blatant sabotaging of the Affordable Care Act. The “Democratic/liberal side” just concluded a series of battles, from the grassroots up to Congress, in defense of that same ACA, battles that will no doubt have to be resumed next year. Up next is the colossal giveaway to the rich and corporate interests that the Administration is putting forward as “tax reform.”

76

F. Foundling 09.29.17 at 6:31 pm

@ 09.29.17 at 2:35 pm
Drat. The text and the lyrics music.

77

engels 09.29.17 at 7:14 pm

why not at least make it so irrelevant, outdated or absurd that it’s impossible to take seriously? The same goes for God Save the Queen

GSTQ has some good bits though

O lord God arise,
Scatter our enemies,
And make them fall!
Confound their knavish tricks,
Confuse their politics,
On you our hopes we fix,
God save the Queen!

78

kidneystones 09.29.17 at 10:36 pm

Good posts on revolutions, history, context, and ambiguities. National symbols are fluid, not static. Stanzas may be re-written, and omitted. I like the race for the exits very much. For me the NFL take a knee fuss is a fluff issue used as political fodder by the cynical on all sides with some notable exceptions here and there. The comments here are generally very good. I think almost everyone with the wit to pay attention understands that the media can’t be relied upon to get any story straight, especially those involving DT.

The latest Trump Tizzy is about the right of the theater producers to have the paid actors read their lines. Note that DT isn’t suggesting that paying ticket-holders stop purchasing tickets, or merchandise, if these ticket holders elect to scratch their private parts, go for a beer, check their email, or otherwise fail to give to the national jingle their undivided attention. DT understands that many paying to watch professional sports, including the NFL product pay, for a real or faux notion of American patriotism and that support for the corporation (yes, this is cash-cow above all else) bleeds into supporting the nation. This can be superficial and trite, or sincere and based on real sacrifice and service.

The anthem is part of the show and if an actor decided to sit down on the stage, rather than read her, or his lines, to protest income inequality all the while collecting a very hefty check for playing a key role in theater productions that pay his salary, that may not have the desired result.

Sure enough, http://dailycaller.com/2017/09/29/nfl-favorability-gets-nearly-cut-in-half-after-anthem-protests/ the self-indulgent/sincere posturing/protests have alienated a core subset of NFL consumers. The rights of the actors to rewrite the script and stage their own performances is an interesting one, and that’s how the NFL scandal should be viewed. Individual priests refusing to read out of the national prayer book. The issue is that potent for many devotees/marks. But given that morality is closely tied to cash, I’m not sure if many of the millionaires are willing to embrace a form of protest that places their income at risk. Already we’re seeing ‘compromise’ protests and I’d bet that within a few weeks almost all actors are back to reading their lines as expected having ‘raised awareness’ for the unfortunates.

As for real change, we might see that when the illiteracy figures among minority youth in California after 8 years of Obama are featured as prominently in the NYT as the daily diet of DT tizzies, instead of being omitted entirely.

You betcha!

79

F. Foundling 09.30.17 at 7:17 am

@engels 09.29.17 at 7:14 pm
>Confound their knavish tricks, | Confuse their politics

Exactly, that bit is my absolute favourite. The curse seems to work much of the time, too. I thought it was ‘Confound their politics, | Frustrate their knavish tricks’, though.

@JA 09.29.17 at 3:37 am

It isn’t surprising that such ‘Thai values’ and ‘mores’ tend to be maintained so strictly, given that many of them are enforced through egregious human rights violations, as seen in the case of the medieval royalty cult and the lèse-majesté laws in particular. People are given long prison sentences for tweets and Facebook posts ‘disrespecting’ the monarchy. It’s a disgrace that a regime that does things like this is considered a respectable member of the international community in the 21st century, but it seems that being seen as ‘exotic’ and ‘traditional’ helps regimes get away with an awful lot of things.

@Layman 09.29.17 at 5:37 am and @Suzanne 09.29.17 at 5:59 pm
>I read the linked article, and reviewed the list of claimed accomplishments for the Trump administration, and I recall ‘the Democratic/liberal side and their media’ focusing on every one of them.

I wouldn’t deny that these things have been reported and discussed as well, and I couldn’t claim that I have an accurate and balanced view of US media in general, but, FWIW, my impression is that the *relative* amount of attention devoted to them has been far from sufficient compared with the various distracting symbolic controversies/scandals, the Russia stuff etc. The linked article, too, confirms that ‘Regulatory policy does not make it into the press nearly as much’. Actually, I don’t think that even Trump-related posts and comments here on CT are an exception from this ratio. This seems like a good way to ‘honourably’ lose the battles in question.

>It seems odd to call announcements ‘accomplishments’

Many of the things mentioned in the article are executive orders, legislation etc. that are already signed and in force, certainly not just ‘announcements’.

@kidneystones 09.29.17 at 10:36 pm
> many paying to watch professional sports, including the NFL product pay, for a real or faux notion of American patriotism … The anthem is part of the show …

I don’t think it should be like this. The job of sportspeople is to play a sport, not to be actors and make a show of patriotism (and I doubt that many viewers pay primarily for the latter). Any part of the show that is external to the actual sport can only work as long as one believes it to be voluntary, sincere and non-scripted; to demand the opposite as a disappointed consumer is sort of sick, pathetic and schizophrenic: ‘I demand that you (continue) to lie to me! Fake an orgasm even though I know you’re faking it!’ Certainly, it does make sense that political statements should normally be excluded from a sports event, but what doesn’t make sense is to enforce and script some political statements and ban others.

80

Layman 09.30.17 at 5:00 pm

F. Foundling: “I wouldn’t deny that these things have been reported and discussed as well, and I couldn’t claim that I have an accurate and balanced view of US media in general, but, FWIW, my impression is that the *relative* amount of attention…”

Yes, it’s clear to me that you’re repeating the claim without really knowing whether it is true. That’s why I asked the question: What would it look like if the claim is not true? Or, if that’s too hard, look at the list of policy accomplishments, pick one you think has been ignored by the mad / craven Democratic elite and their big media lackeys, run a search for stories / commentary about it, and see what comes up.

“Many of the things mentioned in the article are executive orders, legislation etc. that are already signed and in force, certainly not just ‘announcements’.”

Well, why be coy? Exactly how many of them are executive orders which are actually being enforced? What do they do, and what does ‘enforced’ mean? Are the ‘bad’ ones, the real accomplishments, the ones being enforced, actually being ignored by the aforementioned treasonous Democratic elite and their lickspittle media lapdogs? Somehow I doubt it.

81

kidneystones 09.30.17 at 11:54 pm

F. Foundling. Thank you for the observations re: ‘what sport should be’ which, while clearly heartfelt, are most unlike your normally sharp assessments of what is, or may be. If it’s purity in sports your after that can only reliably be found with amateurs and the under-talented. You’ll be familiar I’m sure with https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2017/07/31/icarus-netflix-documentary-russian-doping-scandal/523785001/ I highly recommend the film if you haven’t seen it, not because it depicts Russia as the thug regime it very often is, but because of the extremely long shadow the doping scandal there casts upon professional sports of all kinds. Dope need not be involved. Here in Japan the venerable and honorable sport of sumo has been caught up in match-fixing scandals so frequently I stopped paying attention decades ago. I enjoy watching sports, but I keep the financial factor squarely in the frame whenever outcomes are the question. I hope you’ll forgive me for observing that your view of what professional sports should be strikes me as attractively antiquated, and even quaint. Offered as a fan, if it needs saying. And we should all retain such illusions.

Which leads to your second point re: the Dem response to DT. Layman is absolutely correct, if one searches Google on these topics we will not find the Dem response was silence. Many Dems do understand that the last two decades have been mixed to say the least, and are fully aware that they’ve been routed at the state and local level with predictable results. The problem Dems continue to face, however, is of a very different nature. Their ostensible allies in the media are interested in cash, not conscience. CNN is widely recognized as reliably anti-Trump and attracts a great deal of attention exploring scandals that range from the serious to the ‘Trump gets two-scoops of ice-cream while everyone else gets one’ variety.

Any serious discussion of Trump and the media cannot begin without reading the Harvard: https://shorensteincenter.org/news-coverage-donald-trumps-first-100-days/ which is far and away the most comprehensive study of Trump and the media. Whatever Dems are doing is lost almost entirely in the ‘Trump Russia – Melania’s heels’ coverage.
Read the ‘All Trump, All the Time’ section of the Shorenstein study:

“Trump’s first 100 days were a landmark.[14] On national television, Trump was the topic of 41 percent of all news stories—three times the usual amount.[15] It was also the case that Trump did most of the talking (see Figure 1). He was the featured speaker in nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of his coverage. Members of the administration, including his press secretary, accounted for 11 percent of the sound bites. Other Republicans, including Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, accounted for 4 percent. Altogether, Republicans, inside and outside the administration, accounted for 80 percent of what newsmakers said about the Trump presidency. For their part, Democrats did not have a large voice in Trump’s coverage, accounting for only 6 percent of the sound bites. Participants in anti-Trump protests and demonstrations accounted for an additional 3 percent” (My italics)

The Shorenstein study confirms what Trump has known since day one – give the media a story that is a financial gold mine, provocative, and horrifies our secular priests and that’s all anyone is going to be talking about. Van Jones noted the phenomena early on arguing that the reality TV host had not entered the political arena, the reality TV host had pulled the political entirely into the realm of reality TV.

The Shorenstein study is essential and certainly puts Trump’s anthem remarks in perspective. His candidate was a corrupt member of the GOP Alabama establishment and was sure to lose. Trump had to support Strange over Moore because of his own contractual obligations as ostensible GOP head, knowing Strange couldn’t win (see byron york at RCP on the Alabama primary). The anthem remarks sucked pretty much all the oxygen out of the room (Trump SOP) and he seized control of another news cycle with the predictable ‘this time he’s finished’ response from people who’d cross the street rather than pass the time of day with anyone adorned in NFL fan kit. The OP gets this, I think, as do most of the comments.

It’s a scam within a smelly bouquet of scams, but with some delightful and evocative resonances.

82

Collin Street 10.01.17 at 2:17 am

to demand the opposite as a disappointed consumer is sort of sick, pathetic and schizophrenic: ‘I demand that you (continue) to lie to me! Fake an orgasm even though I know you’re faking it!’

It’s not schitzophrenic! It’s a theory-of-mind impairment [like every fucking thing else]; if you don’t comprehend that people have internal lives, then the only aspect of them that exists for you is their external presentation.

83

Suzanne 10.01.17 at 6:06 am

@78: All sides? Or as “DT” would say, many sides? Colin Kaepernick has been run out of the NFL for initiating the protest. Careers in the NFL are mostly brief and the players’ union is a weak one. The owners are now taking pains to remind the players of these hard facts. Every player who takes a knee is putting a career already insecure at greater risk and that will be especially true going forward.

The latest Trump Tizzy was a bit of race-baiting initiated by “DT” in order to distract from his Administration’s latest failures, including the humanitarian disaster in Puerto Rico. Cynical? You don’t say.

84

F. Foundling 10.01.17 at 1:16 pm

@Layman 09.30.17 at 5:00 pm
>run a search for stories / commentary about it, and see what comes up.

I repeat, slowly and clearly: the — *relative* — amount — of — attention. The issue isn’t whether these things have been reported and commented on at all (of course they have – after all, that’s how I’ve learnt about them!). I think it should be obvious that, to verify my assertion, the relevant procedure would involve something like running a search for coverage of (each of) the accomplishments, running a search for coverage of (each of) the symbolic/distracting issues and then comparing the two sets (and then, ideally, comparing the ratio with the practical significance of one and the other). Such a quantitative research project would be a bit too ambitious for a CT comment, given that commenting here is not actually my job. Instead, I’m making an impressionistic statement about the ratio, which I note that the linked article itself makes as well.

>Exactly how many of them are executive orders which are actually being enforced?

Please, just go through the list in the article yourself; you can’t expect me to do this for you. There are some that are only announcements (or, to be precise, were only announcements at the time of the report) and quite a few that aren’t.

@ kidneystones 09.30.17 at 11:54 pm
On sports – I don’t consider (more) examples of ‘what is’ to be a relevant objection against a statement about ‘what should be’. Especially when the ways in which these facts deviate from ‘what should be’ are relatively unrelated to the original ‘what should be’ statement.

On reactions to Trump’s actions – you are making a legitimate point by emphasising the distinction between the Democrats themselves and the pro-Democrat media. One can certainly hold different opinions about the exact degree of their mutual independence and the exact degree to which the former can influence latter.

@ Collin Street 10.01.17 at 2:17 am
>if you don’t comprehend that people have internal lives, then the only aspect of them that exists for you is their external presentation.

There might be something to this psychological explanation, but I would add two less extreme ones: 1. A sufficiently engrained habit of deceiving oneself (you are capable of forcing someone to pretend and then making yourself forget that you have forced them, and even, in a way, of planning your own forgetting in advance); 2. A feeling of power and control over others (you can draw satisfaction from the very fact that you are able to force them to pretend, and in general to act in a certain way). All quite morbid stuff, no doubt about it, although most people are probably capable of exhibiting such tendencies to some extent, so the difference is one of degree.

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