By All Means, Let's Take Politics Out of Sports—Starting With the National Anthem

Rid private functions of all symbols of the church-state. Then play ball.


Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire CGV/Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Newscom

Defenders of Donald Trump's condemnation of NFL players who "take a knee" during the national hymn—sorry, anthem—beg a few questions. They assume the truth of matters that are or should be in dispute. So, not so fast, Trump defenders. You have work to do.

The first question begged is whether kneeling or sitting during the "Star Bangled Banner" is an act of disrespect to "the country," the flag, the song, or the military. It's not enough to assume it is. Trump and his defenders have to demonstrate this, which would be difficult since we're talking about a state of mind. Any behavior can be consistent with many states of mind. Maybe one player or another intends disrespect, but disrespect doesn't seem to be the message most players wish to send. In fact, some have been quoted saying they mean no disrespect. Rather, they say, their actions are meant to express their belief that the ideals supposedly symbolized by the flag are being dishonored, for example, by police mistreatment of black people. Who's to say the kneelers are lying?

That could end the discussion, but I think a much larger question is begged by Trump and his defenders. People sympathetic to Trump's tweets—for example, former generals and CIA directors Michael Hayden and David Petraeus—lament the kneeling because, they say, football of all things should not be "politicized." Their mistake is in thinking that the players initiated the politicization.

They did not.

Football, like other professional sports and public spectacles, first politicized their events by displaying the flag, playing the national anthem, and lauding the military. To assume those things are not political is to beg a whole lot of questions.

The flag necessarily is a political symbol, and so is a song that sacralizes it. The country, which the flag is said to symbolize, is a political entity. The term the country is rarely meant to indicate merely the middle North American civil society that exists south of Canada and north of Mexico. That term is inextricably tied up with the government of the United States of America. Most people couldn't imagine the country without the government. Trump and his defenders certainly cannot. Indeed, they think it holds society together, for example, by securing its borders.

While some people certainly believe the flag symbolizes freedom, one is justified in seeing it as a symbol of something rather different—of war, empire, and oppression at home and abroad. Empire-building began at the very start with the attempted extermination or expulsion of the Indians. The government supported the buying and selling of human beings.

Yes, that was long ago, and some amends have been made. But that flag was carried (I'll avoid a tediously long list) to the Philippines, Japan, Germany, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and all the other places where the U.S. government and its armed forces waged and still are waging war (conventional, chemical, nuclear, etc.), imposed or supported tyrants, and killed and tortured innocents. That flag is emblazoned on warplanes and naval destroyers, not to mention the uniforms of men and women who, on the orders of hack politicians worried about their political futures, ignorantly barge into other people's countries with the intent to kill.

And we shouldn't overlook domestic oppression, like the war on drug users, merchants, and manufacturers, which has been an effective cover for the persecution of blacks and Latinos. Police wear the flag too.

So the flag is inherently political and controversial. Thus, reacting to it by kneeling or sitting or turning one's back can hardly be deemed an initiation of politicization. It's just an inevitable response.

That most people don't see the state and its symbols as political is a testament to the effectiveness of government education and the obsequiousness of the mass media. TV interviewers are obligated to thank present and former members of the armed forces for their "service to the country," and we're regularly told that Americans died for the flag. (Really?) Questioning any of this is heresy. You may criticize a given war — as long as you call it a mistake and not a crime — but don't dare go deeper than that, and especially don't disrespect the warriors—"the troops"—who "fought for your freedom and your right to dissent."

But what if they didn't actually do that? What if the wars, and therefore the warriors' lethal activities, were in fact opposed to the interests of the people? What if the wars were the schemes of self-serving and dishonest politicians and their whiz-kid social engineers? What if it's all been a "racket," as U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler said it was? After all the indisputably bad consequences in this young century, who can still think the wars in the Muslim world have benefited anyone outside the ruling class and the military-industrial complex?

Sacralization of the flag and uniform—and the anger directed at even mild dissent—are further demonstrations that, contrary to popular myth, church and state in this country have not been separated. They have been fused. The church is the state, and the state is the church. That's where nationalism takes you.

Those who don't want sports politicized should say: no flags, no anthem, and no military. Rid private functions of all symbols of the church-state. Then play ball.

By all means, let's take politics out of sports and other public events.

This piece was originally published by The Libertarian Institute.

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  1. No. Let’s let the owners of professional sports teams decide what messages they want their team to send, keeping in mind that their audience has opinions. Maybe they want to send the audience a political message, and maybe the audience will send them a financial message.

    And let the athletes decide if they are willing to limit themselves to whatever message the team owners dictate, or whether they want to o something less well paid for a living.

    OK, maybe it would be nice if the President stopped tweeting Patriotic Rah Rah and focussed on a Libertarian agenda. But that isn’t the Brand that got him elected. The Brand that got him elected involves a certain amount of populist patriotic rah rah. Scolding him for being true to his successful Brand doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    Does playing the National Anthem before a football game make sense? No. Why should that be different from the rest of the afternoon’s entertainment. The core audience (if ratings numbers are to be believed) appear to like it. And what makes even LESS sense if gratuitously irritating the people who support you financially.

    1. Cntd.
      Of course, the Progressive Left has made a fetish out of insulting the Common Folk they pretend to care about. Most of the Arts have gone that way, which is why art museums, ballets, symphonies, and operas so desperately need government money; the Common man won’t pay for them voluntarily, and the Progressives are cheapskates.

      So, now the Progressive Left wants to bring its unloved message of ‘you’re all awful’ to the entertainments of the Common Man, and the common man is rising in wrath to tell them to fuck off.

      And Reason seems to think that freedom of speech is somehow involved. The ‘protesters’ have no right to speak on their own while on the clock for their employer and wearing his uniform…because his freedom of speech involves the right to keep his trap shut. If they want to blovate on their own time, I’m sure CNN and ESPN will be happy to accommodate them. Trump isn’t preventing anyone from speaking who should be free to do so. He’s calling the ones exercising their ratchet jaws names. That’s HIS freedom of speech. He’s calling on the men who own the teams to exercise THEIR freedom to NOT speak. That’s his prerogative, too.

      The NFL does need to consider whether it wants to be an entertainment business or a political platform for ingrates.

      1. +1

      2. The players do have freedom of speech. They can’t be punished by the state for what they’re doing. That’s all freedom of speech means. There’s such a common misconception that you can do or say anything you want to express yourself, that’s never the case on private property.

        Clearly the league, owners, or coaches can implement any punishment they want within the contracts they have between the NFLPA or the players themselves.

        However I’m so sick of this “controversy”. If we could just ignore it, it would go away.

        1. I don’t know….I’m finding it kind of amusing to watch the likes of the NFL and ESPN commit economic suicide by annoying their fan base. I suppose the next step is a growing whine on the Left for subsidizing Pro Sports Teams so their nitwit players continue to have a platform for their ignorant political statements.

          The political Left doesn’t seem to be able to ‘get’ it; there is a huge swath of society that finds their opinions something ranging between stupidly offensive to actively blasphemous. That said group considers them ill-educated, dull-witted, self-indulgent, tiresome, and nauseating. That shouting at this group and calling them evil names convinces nobody. And, finally, that said group wields an awful lot of economic and political power that the Left has failed to consider in its calculations.

          The term ‘pratfall’ tends to spring to mind.

          1. Seeing progtards suffer is enjoyable.

          2. subsidizing Pro Sports Teams”
            The State already subsidizes political speech by sports teams: the Pentagon pays the NFL millions of dollars each year for the sorts of “displays of patriotism” Richman criticized here. IIRC the funds are part of the Pentagon marketing efforts for recruitment; the military’s marketing budget has long been abused to generate domestic propaganda despite the illegality of such measures.
            There may be times when the State ought to engage in advertising. I wouldn’t have qualms with the town dogcatcher advertising pictures of animals they have seized. State Election Boards might advertise polling places & times.
            Instead we have propaganda. Liberals spent millions convincing the country to use Obamacare w stupid web videos & a broken website. Conservatives smile on the Pentagon’s use of it’s largesse to convince kids to go kill and die in the Middle East using army-produced video games, expert “advice” for filmmakers that make jingoistic drek like Why We Fight or Zero Dark Thirty, and ads everywhere – television, YouTube, on the side of energy drinks, wherever.
            The propaganda continues to be made because the electorate has long abandoned any principled notion of limited government or a nation governed by laws and not men. The problem, says the American Voter, is that *their* guy is in charge & spewing (liberal/conservative) lies. Wait until *our* guy gets elected – then everything will be different.

            1. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

              This is what I do…

          3. The stupidest extension of this protest “logic” is a demand from some number of players that some GM somewhere show solidarity by hiring Kaepernick. So now he’s a charity case.

            Again and again: the NFL is a meritocracy. Every owner dreams of a deep run in the playoffs. No owner is going to pass up on that chance. So it’s up to Kaepernick to earn his way onto a roster somewhere. If he can’t, that’s on him not some BS “institutional racism”

  2. I’m all for bagging on mindless line towing of wars and so on… And in other contexts where there was more REAL principle or substance behind it I would be more okay with it… But this particular instance is mainly just lefty tools trying to push their stupid “all white people are evil” agenda which they’ve got really active with in the last decade or so.

    Anyone who REALLY looks into the racial profiling stuff with policing in the US has to come to the realization that most minority groups are not being overly represented beyond reason. Their groups COMMIT MORE CRIMES, and by necessity have more interactions with the cops. I can buy blacks may be hassled more for saaay weed than whites, although proving it is tough. What they do do though that I don’t think is over represented by false means is commit 50% of murders (give or take depending on the year) while being 13% of the population. Similarly high rates for rape, assaults, and so on. I don’t think these types of crimes are just randomly blamed on black folks or disproportionately prosecuted. This means they have a SERIOUS problem in their community that needs to be addressed.

    1. If heavily policing neighborhoods that are responsible for half of the serious crimes, but only covers 13% of the ground you have to cover with beat cops doesn’t make sense then I don’t know what does. This probably contributes to them getting nabbed on smaller offenses more often… But it’s still not unreasonable to any sane person. There’s more to it than that too. I suggest everybody out there really delves into the numbers if you want to have real image of what’s actually going on. The “We’re all oppressed still, and getting shot for no reason!” narrative is bunk, it’s self inflicted if anything.

    2. OTOH, the police, for a variety of reasons, are seriously out of line. They are out of line with freaking EVERYBODY, but it has more effect on the poor than on the people who can shrug and pay fines.

      ?Dynamic Entry raids for non-violent crimes, frequently on the word of known liars, and all too often on the wrong addresses. And then some local government stooge holds a press conference about how “all relevant department guidelines were followed”. Hey, shithead, if “all relevant department guidelines were followed” and the result was a dead citizen because the cops on the scene apparently cannot fucking THINK, the both the cops on the scene AND the asshole who wrote “”all relevant department guidelines” need to be jacked up.

      ? Police Unions that get Cops treated with kind gloves, even when they ave been caught beating on rending citizens and then lying about it.

      ? Don’t even get me started on ‘Civl Forfeiture’; that’s the police as a criminal cabal, period.

      The thing is, BLM and the rest of the Professionally Oppressed are taking theses very real issues and using them to make matter worse.

      1. There is no ‘BLM’. Anyone notice those ‘Workers of the World’ banners at some of the recent ‘BLM’ marches.

        1. Oh, there is a Black Lives Matter, all right. Sure, it’s,a,puppet group set up by the (mostly White) intellectual Left, but it does exist. And it CAN exist because, damnit, the cops get away with far too much shit in the name of various bullshit initiatives and programs that hit the poor hard.

          IF cops that raided the wrong address, when basic competency would prevent it, got canned and stayed canned, I would have less sympathy for the Black poor who get conned by BLM. I suspect that BLM exists because the (mostly White) intellectual Left LIKES police pograms (no, I didn’t misspell) that keep Blacks under the thumb of the State. That BLM is intended to bleed off justified outrage in such a way that nothing useful gets done and the Blacks keep voting for the Democrats that court BLM….and keep the poor, poor and dependent.

          One monkey wrench in the Left’s plans is the spread,of 2nd Amendment activism to the inner cities. Now DC HAS to start giving CC permits. This ought to be good!

          1. Not everything is a conspiracy. BLM is a reaction to out of control police, prosecutors & judges. It’s the sort of reaction that happens absent an inspired, charismatic leader like MLK & within a society that overwhelmingly supports *some* form of fascist authoritarianism & holds the principles of nonviolence in utter contempt.
            BLM is the result of decades of identity politics spewed by both political non options in the US. It’s the result of an education system too incompetent to indoctrinate children but expert at disenfranchising them w a lifetime criminal record. BLM & protests groups like it are what happens when a large group of ppl have a very legitimate grievance with their government but lack the ability to agree on & maintain a methodology for resolving that grievance. For all of the faults of BLM, it requires an immense degree of intellectual dishonesty or sheer moral bankruptcy to judge between BLM & the police & declare that the police are on the right side if history.

      2. And all of the things you mention I am totally against. The thing is that these guys didn’t start with “Cops need to be reigned in period” they started with the false premise of “Racist cops are specifically going after innocent black people.” Even though black cops are more likely to shoot black perps than white cops are… And a million other stats that poke holes in the premise.

        That said, it does happen sometimes. But I don’t think it is appreciably worse than cops hassling white trash meth heads in bad parts of town. The fact that these BLM folks riot and burn down their own neighborhoods and whatnot when reasonably justified shootings of career criminals happens simply proves my point that it’s more just racial animus against white people than anything else.

        If they only peacefully protested against REAL police injustice I’d have way more sympathy. I did in fact when it all first started up. Then they started rioting over people that I know I would have shot if I was the cop, and it devolved into a “hate whitey” thing more than anything else. I’m all for reigning in police abuse, but I’m not going to stand behind particular activists or groups where that is secondary to other goals, like hating 65% of the country for the color of their skin…

  3. Spot on, Sheldon. What kind of libertarian, or anyone else for that matter, should pledge allegiance to a flag? I’ve always stood in grumpy silence when forced to take part in this hoary ritual, but it’s really time to just sit this one out.

    1. So basically “libertarians” that don’t think like you are incapable of being whatever you perceive them to be?

      Because that’s what it sounds like you are saying.

      I’m sure I’m not the only libertarian, or libertarian leaning, individual who loves my country and respects the flag. Now I don’t think that anyone should be forced to think like I do, but for me it means a lot.

    2. I startled my VERY Liberal in-laws by agreeing that the words “Under God) shouldn’t be in the Pledge, then outraged them by saying that their reasoning was pigswill. The reason the words “under God” don’t belong in the pledge is that the man who wrote the flipping thing didn’t put them there. I am against editing original work to fit momentary expediency. If you don’t like his pledge they way he friggin’ wrote it, write your own. Don’t take his work and adulterate it.

    3. AmSoc, of course you don’t, you’re a communist traitor to whom the constitution and the concept of individual freedom is anathema.

      1. Give it a rest w this already. Argue on the merits or take your rhetorical shit-throwing to Breitbart or wherever partisan hacks are going this week to beat the tribal drum and repeat the sacred words over and over again. Free minds & free markets means an honest exchange of ideas. Libertarianism triumphs over socialism because markets produce a freer, more affluent society than an economy run by centralized fiat.
        We don’t win because we can hurl better insults.
        Your behavior degrades not just H&R but helps to reinforce delusions about libertarians that prevent correct ideas from gaining wider acceptance. If you are a libertarian, know that whatever infantile glee you gain from insulting strangers on the internet comes at a cost to lib ideas when someone reads this drivel & decides that libs really are just racist bullies after all.

      2. Last of the Shitforbrains, is the Federalist cracker-ass hillbilly commentariat not enough of an audience for your Contarded drivel?

  4. This narrative, that the Right (or anyone else) must show that these political displays are about X, is bullshit. I fully support the rights of these players to make idiotic political statements right up until they alienate their fans so much that the league has to fire them for the grandstanding, hijacking morons they are. There are two problems with these protests. First, the reasons the players are giving for kneeling are by and almost uniformly idiotic, and typical leftist garbage (all cops are pigs, or structural, systemic racism, blah blah blah…). They deserve all the ridicule they are getting for holding these non-nuanced world views. Secondly, just because I burn a flag and then claim I’m not protesting the country, just demonstrating my hatred of cold pizza, doesn’t mean that that is how 95% of the country is going to interpret my demonstration.

    1. I disagree. I support the right of the players to make whatever statements they want…on their own freaking time, and out of team uniform. If you are on the clock at McD’s and wearing the uniform, you do not have the right to speak out about the quality of the food. That’s for your own time, and in civies.

      It isn’t like they’ll have a dearth of venues open to them.

      But if you are taking them man’s money and wearing his colors, and he tells you to shut your yap and stand at attention, you freaking do it. Or he has the right to fire your ass.

      1. “But if you are taking them man’s money and wearing his colors, and he tells you to shut your yap and stand at attention, you freaking do it. Or he has the right to fire your ass.”

        Of course, but…

        “If you are on the clock at McD’s and wearing the uniform, you do not have the right to speak out about the quality of the food. That’s for your own time, and in civies.”

        They’re not saying that the quality of football is lousy, but also, NFL players make more money. I don’t say that as a way of implying they have special rights, just that every job is unique and some allow more latitude for an employee to express themselves. Treating the NFL as if it’s your job doesn’t make much sense.

        1. Hell, it IS their job. The issue is, are the owners going to let the Players piss off the fans in an ostentatious manner, and just accept the monetary loss, or are they going to tell the players “OK, you think these folks are racist assholes. That’s fine. Tell them so on your own time, and maybe we’ll all have these cushy jobs this time in five years. Or keep ticking them off wen they tune in, and all the revenue will go away and you’ll need to find something else to do.”

          1. My own father, who has been a die hard NFL fan for over 60 years now refuses to watch any NFL games. I predict if this shit persists they will lose over a third of their viewers. They’ll eventually get some of them back, but not anywhere near all of them.

            1. If I were a gambling man, I’d be more than willing to take you up on that bet. They have and will lose viewers, but the extent to which people are revolting is overblown in my opinion. Maybe I’ll believe it when Kaepernick’s jersey stops selling so well despite not playing a single down.

            2. Last of the Shitforbrains — I predict your Contarded old man will drop dead one day very soon and his boycotting of the NFL will have zero effect. Sucks to be you, whining Con-Flake.

          2. When the owners think that the protests are going to really hit their bottom line, they’ll tell the players to stop. It’s their decision. Boycott away, that’s your right too.

      2. Neither the owners nor the league are saying that they can’t do this. So whether you like it or not, the employers are perfectly fine with what is going on, and thus the players don’t have to “do it on their own time.” I think it’s great that these guys have a voice and a stage upon which to use it.

        Now, I obviously believe that if the fans hate what they’re doing so much they should stop supporting the games. But they won’t, because the flag-worshipping masses also generally like to watch giant humans smash into each other.

        1. “Neither the owners nor the league are saying that they can’t do this. So whether you like it or not, the employers are perfectly fine with what is going on”

          Maybe the owners will also be perfectly fine with reduced revenue when they’re done alienating their customer base.

          “Now, I obviously believe that if the fans hate what they’re doing so much they should stop supporting the games. But they won’t, because the flag-worshipping masses also generally like to watch giant humans smash into each other.”

          Wrong. Its already happening.


      3. The NFL can fire these players if the choose to. If I were in their shoes, I would. They haven’t. That decision is solely that of the NFL or the Team managers. So, as long as the NFL wants to support this grandstanding jackassery, so be it.

  5. My issue with kneeling during the national anthem has nothing to do with worship of the flag. It’s simple dismay that it’s apparently impossible for people to stand united for even 90 seconds at an entertainment event anymore.

    I think what some libertarians don’t understand is that people have a natural desire to feel connected to a larger group. And since we have decided that our country is not that group then we can all look forward to the new group that people place themselves in.

    1. Kneel during the National Anthem if you like. It’s an adaptation of an old English drinking song anyway, so I’m not convinced that it deserves a lot of respect. But if you do in while you are being paid by someone who would rather you didn’t, expect to be looking for work come Monday.

      1. “It’s an adaptation of an old English ____”

        So is the United States of America.

        1. Expanding on this: America is the country that makes marble statues of rail-splitters and B-list actors, astronauts out of farmboys and guns and warships out of donated pots and hubcaps.

          The idea, then, that we ought not to take the Anthem seriously owing to its being derived from something mundane is… What do the kids say these days? Ah, yes: “problematic”.

          1. I’m saying it’s a lousy tune. And it is. But rah rah isn’t supposed to make sense. Most National Anthems strike me as bad music, bad sentiment (doesn’t the Anthem of the Netherlands still pledge loyalty to Spain?), or both. So what?

            The point stands; if your job is to take part in a spectacle that includes standing for the playing of a tune (be it an Anthem or POP GOES THE WEASEL), then do what you signed on for, and blovate about it on your own time.

            1. If you don’t like the Anthem for its melody, then whatever. But I stand by my statement that “being an adaptation of an old English drinking song” is an illegitimate criticism. As I noted earlier, “adaptation of an old English drinking song” is a decent metaphor for the entire US of A. In this country, it’s not supposed to matter where you came from, be you a person, anthem or otherwise.

  6. I’m not suggesting that we change the law, because we shouldn’t. But I’ve always believed, socially speaking, freedom of speech has to be more expansive than that. If we punish someone for expressing an opinion that we don’t like, even if we can under the law, we just undermine the intent of the first amendment and make it easier for government or others to restrict it illegally at certain times. Certainly, this is just my opinion, and to each their own, but I feel like not being able to tolerate a little politics in the workplace, etc. says more about our emotional and intellectual maturity than anything else. When that guy -his name escapes me presently- was fired for having donated money to groups that oppose gay marriage, it wasn’t really ok, even if the company was just responding to market forces.

    But, at the very least, we shouldn’t be hypocrites and say certain politics are ok, but others aren’t…again, socially speaking, and it’s just my opinion.

    1. I appreciate the sentiment… But this is how politics plays out in the real world. People discuss things politely sometimes, people publicly shame people for wrong think other times. That’s how it goes. The side that has more people with a view tends to win the argument. We’re at a really extreme point right now. In 1910s Russia wrong think got you shot, not just shamed or fired. We may be there ourselves before long.

  7. “to the Philippines, JAPAN, GERMANY, KOREA, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and all the other places where the U.S. government and its armed forces waged and still are waging war (conventional, chemical, nuclear, etc.), imposed or supported tyrants, and killed and tortured innocents.”

    “I cannot stand for the flag of a country that oppresses civilians on the Korean peninsula, attacks Japan unprovoked and unlawfully occupies a sovereign European nation.”

  8. “we’re regularly told that Americans died for the flag. (Really?)”

    If you don’t believe that, maybe you should take some time out of your busy schedule of fruitlessly searching the folds of your crotch in vain hopes of one day finding some hint of a penis and instead ask one of the ones that survived what they think of the flag.

    But of course the latter activity would likely serve to remind you of the former’s quixotic nature.

    1. Sheldon should take his bullshit down to the local VFW and regale the gentlemen there with his ideas. When he gets out of the hospital, he might want to get some laxatives to help him finish shitting his own teeth out.

      1. The VFW is just really committed to the lie.

      2. Save it for Brietard, Last of the Shitforbrains.

  9. “Rid private functions of all symbols of the church-state. Then play ball.”

    How about we let the private individuals who run those private functions to make their own decisions? Because, frankly, this sub-header sounds an awful lot like prior restraint of speech. At least as much as insisting that private functions kowtow to the church-state.

    I’m not for forcing the NFL owners to play the National Anthem. I’m not for forcing them to NOT play the National Anthem. I’m for letting them decide what they want to do, and then standing back and letting them do it. And take the consequences, including (maybe) being ranted at by Trump, or the Left, or little green men from Alpha-Centauri.

    1. If I were owners I’d do what some have done and don’t bring the team out until all the patriotic and pro-military displays are done with. You can prance around displaying your love of country in all the symbolic ways you can think of, but it doesn’t make you more of a patriot.

      Do you know how much the DOD pays the NFL for all the jet fly-overs and martial ceremony? It’s your tax dollars going down the drain for ineffective recruiting tactics.

  10. Of course the anthem is political. Loving the US or Hating the US didn’t used to be a political topic up for debate in the US. Or most any country.

    But it is now in the US.

    It’s another sign of the rampant DoubleThink that the America Haters claim be for unity. All American rise up, joins hands, and Hate America Now! United in Hatred of our neighbors at last!

    Civilizational arson.

    They do their best to destroy civic nationalism, while feeding racial identity politics. This is what you do when you want to watch the world burn.

    1. No, this is what you do when you want to bring to world to the brink of burning because you think you will be able to step in and take over.

      As Rocky the Flying Squirrel says “That trick never works”

    2. Exactly what is going on. The truth is though that the left really does hate basically every single thing the USA stands for. They do. So they HAVE to destroy it, and make people actively hate it, in order to get their wishes. All the racial tension they have created is just a means to an end, and if it makes those same minorities lives worse… So what? They don’t care.

      They better watch out that they don’t push it too far though, because if it goes to a shooting war I’m 99% sure some flavor of right wing party will be the one to win. I just don’t see womens studies students beating war vets and rednecks in a shooting war.

      1. Who is this ‘left’ that hates America? If you include all the people who voted democrat instead of for Trump or Gary Johnson, that’s a very wide range of people and the “radical professor” types are a tiny minority. The most popular major group for women now is health sciences (nursing, biology etc). In 2015 (the latest year I can find stats for) only 2,494 Women’s Studies degrees were awarded out of a population of about 20 million college students.

  11. No Sheldon, you’re among the people who are injecting politics into sports.

  12. Seriously, why does Reason publish this moronic bullshit?

    1. Cocktail parties?

    2. To rile up the Fauxbertarians such as yourself, Last of the Shitforbrains?

  13. Why the hostility to religion?

    1. And for that matter, what does the flag have to do with being a “symbols of the church-state”? Nihilistic nonsense

  14. “The first question begged is whether kneeling or sitting during the “Star Bangled Banner” is an act of disrespect to “the country,” the flag, the song, or the military.”

    Trump does not have to prove anything since that is exactly what the protester claim it is about . or do you not even believe the protesters? do the protester have to prove their own claims? talk about a stupid comment by the author

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  16. There is a good argument to be made that the anthem exercise before sporting events should be dropped. But Richman — cut out the Noam Chomsky stuff. Did you really want Hitler to overrun Europe or Japan to occupy Hawaii? Some of America’s wars have been problematical, but some have been justified, and the one from 1861-1865 to our standing as a moral nation. And while some of the tributes to our veterans bleed over into obsequy, the kind of mistreatment they endured during the Vietnam era was much, much worse. Richman’s (and those like him) disdain for so much of what many Americans are attached to is the main reason we have Trump.

  17. Would it be asking too much for Reason writers to stop the egregious misuse of the phrase “begging the question”? It has nothing to do with raising or asking a question.

    Begging the question means to assume as given a fact which must be proved. Colin Kaepernick and others beg the question when they assert their protest is against the “genocide” of black men carried on by the nation’s police. That is an allegation which must (and cannot) be proven.

    Put another way, please stop taking your grammatical cues from semi-literate sports announcers who cannot pass up any opportunity to make it sound like they actually got an education.

  18. NFL football games are not private events. The games themselves are open to the public and they are broadcast over public airwaves by broadcasters licensed by the federal government. The games are held in stadiums paid for or at least subsidized by tax dollars from city, state and Federal taxes. The only real private aspect of this are the profits.

    I don’t dispute the author’s description of our nation and its recent history. Although I disagree with the idea of just giving up on the flag all together. Given current conditions, it might be good to remember what the flag was meant to represent. Indeed reciting the idea of “liberty and justice for all” at least keeps the concept alive

    1. No argument, but the First Amendment issue is whether the League stands in the shoes of a government actor. You might argue that it comes close, but it doesn’t really get there.

      It doesn’t particularly matter to me whether they play the anthem at sporting events or not, but if they do then I really don’t think it’s asking too much to expect the players to show the flag the basic respect it deserves.

  19. NFL football games are not private events. The games themselves are open to the public and they are broadcast over public airwaves by broadcasters licensed by the federal government. The games are held in stadiums paid for or at least subsidized by tax dollars from city, state and Federal taxes. The only real private aspect of this are the profits.

    I don’t dispute the author’s description of our nation and its recent history. Although I disagree with the idea of just giving up on the flag all together. Given current conditions, it might be good to remember what the flag was meant to represent. Indeed reciting the idea of “liberty and justice for all” at least keeps the concept alive

  20. So why is country and the government the same thing? I can certainly imagine them as separate. The government is not a monolithic entity. It’s still composed of people. US government in 2017 is not the same government as in 1952. You can certainly be respectful to the country and its ideals while being critical of the current government. And no, im not American, but I just felt the need to point that out.

    Richman also seems to have a very strong hate against US. Certainly US have made mistakes and questionable things in history, but is he seriously saying that the US intervention in WW2 (he lists German and Japan) was a bad thing? If the US didn’t join the allies, the Nazis would rule all Europe now. We Europeans owe a lot to US. And how about Korea?. Without US intervention Kim Jong-un would rule whole Korea now. Even Vietnam war was waged not because of resources, or “imperialism” , but to stop North Vietnam from conquering the south. Richman likes to bash US, but never talks about its enemies. Apparently the fact that thousands of south vietnamese were sent to “re-education camps” doesn’t concern him a bit. Richman sounds like a conspiracy theorist. Indicating that every single US politician and general is evil, but doesn’t provide any hard evidence of it.

    I agree with libertarian view of small government and free markets, but sometimes I feel like they are just isolationists, but who would never help a stranger getting robbed. After all it’s not “their business.”

  21. Fuckin’ A. Watching everyone try to out-patriot one another is just embarrassing. We’re not North Korea.

  22. Criticizing the gaudy laundry and stupid war song sure riles up the Con-tards.

  23. I would also like to point out that Claus von Stauffenberg and other members of the July 20 plot didn’t try to kill Hitler because they hated their country. They tried to kill Hitler because they loved their country. So they definitely saw the difference between country and government. So why can’t Richman? This is true for most if not all coups in the world. Don’t they teach history at US schools? Country is more than just the people who lead it.

    Besides if the country and the government are the same thing, then why not countrymen, meaning citizens too? This makes sense. After all US is a democracy and lets people vote who will lead them. People can also influence the government via protests and addresses. Trump is not a dictator. He didn’t conquer the White house in an epic battle and execute his predecessors. He got to power because millions of people voted for him. Doesn’t make him right, of course, but it’s a fact many have conveniently forgotten. And if you think that democracy is a good thing, then you should respect the choice of the people. So, maybe we are all government? You, me, and everyone else. I assume Richman is a citizen of the US(?) so he is part of the government too!

  24. Sheldon Richman :

    Male bovine excrement is generally consider beneficial for landscaping and gardening. However the brand/variety you are selling is a thinly disguised super herbicide that can only create a hazardous waste site.

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