We Need Symbols of Shared Identity

Marcher with flag

Jim Geraghty’s comments on the anthem controversy this morning are oustanding:

Americans would be better off tackling this problem with empathy. For the average law-abiding young black man, getting pulled over on a traffic stop can be terrifying, gripped by the fear that one can do everything right and still get killed over a misunderstanding. Similarly, citizens should pause and recognize that every time a police officer puts on his badge and goes out to perform his duties, he wonders if this day will be his last, and whether he will be ambushed by some nut with a grudge against cops.

Of course, instead of understanding, the country got former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick wearing cops-are-pigs socks and denouncing police brutality while wearing a t-shirt bearing the image of Fidel Castro.

Trump is of course, as always, a racist, misogynist, illiberal reprobate eager to seize any advantage, at whatever cost to the country that he so clearly despises. (All nationalists despise their countries, because they are idolators and like all idolators they despise their idols for failing to deliver the goods.)

But ESPN and all the others who decided to make a hero of Kaepernick and demand viciously that everyone must pay obesience to his integrity should have known better than to play into his hands.

They have handed Trump perhaps his greatest political victory ever. Honoring the flag and the anthem are now signs of support for Trump.

The loss of the flag and the anthem as symbols that command allegiance across all boundaries would be incalculable.

If anyone says that oppressed peoples never saw the flag and the anthem as symbols that command their alligance, I strenuously deny the claim.


How will we find common ground without a common identity, and where will we find moral commitments with which to bind scoundrels like Trump if not in a common identity that people like him have no choice but to at least nominally affirm?

MLK: “I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

Of course we can’t compel respect for the flag and the anthem. Forcing players to stand would only increase the division. That’s why it was so very, very important for ESPN not to make a divine hero out of Kaepernick in the first place. Now they’re stuck. (Of course it was also important for Trump not to be a racist, misogynist, illiberal reprobate, but that ship has sailed.)

Finding a way to restore the flag and the anthem to their rightful, nonpartisan place is a matter of national emergency.

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