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I Have Never Stood Up for the National Anthem—and Never Will


I Have Never Stood Up for the National Anthem—and Never Will

Sonali Kolhatkar

I do not follow sports, so I had not heard of Colin Kaepernick before this week. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback took a simple action Friday during a football game: He chose not to stand during the national anthem, and for that he has now become a household name. His act was one to which I could strongly relate.


Good piece, Sonali. You are right --- Those of us who truly love our country the most, criticize her when she is wrong. We don't support her blindly.


Nothing good comes from patriotism, borders and flags - only bad. There is only one nation I recognize - the workers of the world - who some day, will unite.


"Here’s the rub: No country is worth pledging blind allegiance to. Patriotism, nationalism, anthems, flags and syrupy words about “love of country” or soldiers “fighting for freedom” are constructs aimed at fostering unquestioning obedience from people lucky enough to be deemed citizens. They are meant to quash debate and discussion and enable mobs to righteously proclaim treason by anyone who dares to dissent."

From professional sports to soldiering, these conformist rituals are a display of Mars rules and typically work better on male brotherhoods and their baboon hierarchies.

Many women--born outside the male clubs--see the idiocy for what it is.


I could never get into honoring (worshipping) a piece of fabric. A national flag is about the same as gang colors.

The national anthem is also a musical nightmare. It's hard to sing, the melody is not especially pleasant to hear, and the lyrics present bombs bursting in air as a Good Thing.

Not only that, Key was no composer here; he just wrote new words to a well-known drinking song.
At least that aspect of the anthem is fitting, since the "engine" of official Washington runs on ethanol.


Sonali Kolthakar is the sort of person in the best possible position to identify true USAmerican values, because she has chosen to lodge her citizenship and her life here. Unfortunately, those of us born here, especially in the triumphal midcentury, learned the rituals of jingoism as mere habit. I for one am grateful to Colin Kaepernick, among others, for demanding that I pay attention to what my habits are taken to signify. I will not stand again. I do not say the pledge. I will pick up the flag when someone else has let it fall to the ground, but I won't use the word "desecrate" because it is not an idol.

Kolhatkar's most cogent observation is that "Perhaps bowing in deference to a flag or anthem fulfills some deep, primal need in humans to identify as a tribe that’s bigger and better and stronger than other tribes." That, imo, is why the anthem is played at sporting events, where we find out which clan of the great tribe is stronger and better. We don't expect to think there. That's why so many are annoyed by Kaepernick's protest, because he has asked us to quit giggling and think.


Sieg America, volk.


As Dubya said "if yer not with us yer against us".

If Murkins don't suck it up and conform at football games, perhaps another 9-11 style shock doctrine may be on its way to whip them into conformity.


" For those whose instincts are democratic rather than totalitarian, "patriotism" means commitment to the welfare and improvement of the society, its people, its culture. That's a natural sentiment and one that can be quite positive. It's one all serious activists share, I presume; otherwise why take the trouble to do what we do? But the kind of "patriotism" fostered by totalitarian societies and military dictatorships, and internalized as second nature by much of intellectual opinion in more free societies, is one of the worst maladies of human history, and will probably do us all in before too long."...On Patriotism...Noam Chomsky.

I agree.



Also with John Carlos on the 200 meter victory stand in Mexico City, at the 1968 Olympic Games, was Tommie Smith, and a white man from Australia Peter Norman, they all protested together during the playing of the American national anthem.


Many men, and that includes the example at hand, Colin Kaepernick, see the idiocy for what it is too.
Somehow that appears not to register with you.



What does your response have to do with what I wrote? My point is that there is nothing good about patriotism - whether it be "The Star Spangled Banner", "Oh Canada","¡Mexicanos, Al Grito de Guerra!", "La Marseillaise", or whatever.

However, I do like the "Internationale" - the international anthem of the world's workers, which was, for a while, also the national anthem of the Soviet Union and "Gloria al Bravo Pueblo" (Venezuela - where I lived and worked way back) which sings of a down-trodden people throwing off their yoke and chains.


I love the musical composition of the Russian Federation's national anthem. Just saying.


John P. O'Neill was appointed head of security at the World Trade Center on August 23, 2001.
He reported for his first day of work on 9-11.
He was killed when the towers fell.
The story of how O'Neill came to be where he was on 9-11 is pretty twisted.


I have worked with Native American students for years. They do not routinely stand for the pledge of allegiance either. Good for them.


If you benefit from the nation you live in, you are patriotic and nationalistic; if you do not enjoy benefits, or if the nation state does not live up to your ideals, you believe that patriotism is a bad thing. The European Union is founded on the idea that the nation state is a flawed entity and should be eliminated by joining in a greater union that transcends limited national interests.

I don't care if you stand for the national anthem, Ms Kolhatkar, or if you feel patriotic. That's your private affair and as political statements go, I'm not impressed. Personally, I hate to read American history. Kind of makes me ill. The national anthem is bad poetry. On the other hand, I experience moments of intense national pride that bring tears to my eyes. When all is said and done, I do have a love of my country. I'm sorry you deny yourself such an experience.

Personal feelings aside, nationalism is an important stabilizing element in the world order. Nations are unique and breed individuals with certain unique and useful qualities. I am an "American". I am not a "global citizen". A Brit is a Brit, not a rootless citizen of an EU, what Kurt Vonnegut might call a "Granfalloon". Nationalism separates people, and that's a good thing, otherwise we'd all be subsumed in a global tyranny, which was the vision of the defunct Soviet Union. That's political death.


She did not write her article to impress you. You are entitled to your opinion and you have expressed it well. Fine. As the comments seen here establish, there are US citizens that agree with Sonali Kolhatkar. They too are entitled to their opinions. There is, however, a problem when a powerful country such as the USA has a lot of "patriotic" citizens. Such a country finds it easy to engage in imperial adventures that bring misery to citizens of the targeted, less powerful countries. That, in my opinion, is a bad thing.



Just the start of your errors. I'll leave the EU and USSR nonsense aside as off topic, but you're very rude to the writer. She never said that she does not experience the same "moments of intense national pride" that you do. But she did say that she chose the US in which to lodge her first real citizenship.


I believe I quit pledging allegiance to the wall in third grade and can't recall the last time I stood for any national anthem. Too much nationalism for me and hasn't that been the battle cry in enough wars already? We're citizens of the earth after all and when viewing the earth from space or simply driving past a state border, I can't see any borders. Can anyone, except maybe what a sign on a road says?It's one reason the late Carl Sagan managed to get NASA to turn one of the Voyager probes around and take a picture of the earth from near Saturn. Just to show how small our world really is and how we're all interconnected. Only governments divide. Not regular people. We'd rather get to know each other better.


"Nationalism is an important stabilizing element in the world order." That statement is patently absurd. I suggest you take a few world history courses at a reputable university if you actually believe that. The opposite is true.

The world and humanity have had enough of blind obedience and moronic patriotism. It is far past time to put national borders and isolationism in the dust bin. We have a global crisis of vast inequality, the decimation of climate stability, and continuing global fascism, to name only a few problems facing humanity.