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Friday October 20 2017
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Black lives never mattered much to an obsolete national anthem

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If you still think global warming is a hoax, then obviously you haven’t checked the temperature of the political climate lately. It’s white-hot right now. There’s nothing fake about that news. Tensions are so blistering right now that it’s presently boiling over onto the playing field.

Of course, you’re aware of the Steelers remaining in the locker room during the national anthem at Soldier Field Sunday.  Surely, you’ve taken in Alejandro Villanueva and “tunnel-gate” by now.

It upsets you, doesn’t it?  The shear audacity of the move breaks down a lifelong ethos of America-first, and respect for your serviceman that you refuse to shift from now, even if it means disowning your football team, huh?

By now, some of you have probably used disparaging words to describe Coach Mike Tomlin, who announced that his team would remain in the locker room during the anthem.  Maybe to an even lesser few of you, black people in general leave a sour taste in your tongue after all of this.

All of this over a song that was written 203 years ago by a white slave owner that was feeling a high after watching American forces defeat the British in Baltimore.

Lyrics penned by Francis Scott Key, who was a proud owner of six slaves, and a lawyer who staunchly fought abolitionists—spending a lifetime waffling on the pros and cons of slavery.  Key also adamantly opposed The War of 1812, making his song of patriotism a tale of conflicting self-interests.

When you think about the kind of man Key was, you would probably prefer to place your hand across your heart to the tune of Yankee Doodle instead.

Skip to 1916, where Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order to designate the song, “National Anthem of the United States.”

Ever since, the melody has played consistently for 101 years in this country. 

The anthem played at Redland Field prior to Game 1 of the 1919 World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and the now-infamous Chicago Black Sox, just months removed from a mass lynching in Little Rock, Arkansas that claimed the lives of 237 black men, all because they chose to unionize as sharecroppers.  Because racial lynching naturally, was protected under Jim Crow laws, no white man was prosecuted for that horrific day that many history books have simply dismissed.

42,309 proudly held their hands to their hearts at then-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa just 5 months after digging their feet in with George Wallace, all trying their earnest to resist desegregation at the steps of Alabama University’s campus, just a stone’s throw away from the gridiron. 

You should know it by now.  “Segregation now!  Segregation tomorrow!  Segregation forever!” 

It took the national guard to remove Wallace and those ever-so-“patriotic” white Alabamans just to get two black students into the doors.

Do you think Emmett Till cared about the national anthem being played at sports venues across the nation in 1955 when a gang of white men beat, mutilated and shot him, tossing his dead corpse into the Tallahatchie River because he flirted with a white girl in a Jim Crow-south, where that action from a black man was strictly prohibited?  Did his mother grasp her heart to the melody when every man involved in the murder was acquitted? 

Was the anthem important to the Little Rock Nine, who were famously blocked from entering Central High by the national guard just three years later?  Black kids stopped abruptly by our own military from entering the classroom?

Fast forward to today, and we watch a black athlete in Colin Kaepernick spearhead the kneeling movement.  It offends white people.  Like some Pittsburghers are doing to Tomlin present day, they cast aspersions on the identity of the then-49ers quarterback.

Nobody cares to listen to reason anymore.  He’s black, this is a song of patriotism, so the equation adds up to he must hate this country and all who protect it.  To support him and other black athletes kneeling, sitting or completely dismissing the national anthem pegs the rest of us as draconian liberals with hyperbolic political correctness tendencies.

Bullshit.

I’m not politically correct.  I disagree with many liberal views.  I’m also practical.  I believe in a practical country that should be able to tell the difference between an obsolete song written by a slave owning, independence-dodging hypocrite during a war that no person presently on earth was alive for, and a genuine, personal salute to the brave men and women that protect our way of life every day.

It shouldn’t be hard to grasp the concept of a modern-world human being.

As a white man, I don’t pretend to know the arduous task to be black in America, to where a protest of a national anthem is my best way to show plight.  To have a consistency of a historical-to-modern beating as a race.  To know that the national anthem never really had you in mind in the first place, because in fact, you were property when it was written.  To be stereotyped by many, to have the itchiest trigger fingers watching your every move, to face inequality in a world where some now mask their hate for your skin color, while others can’t wait to show it off, using tiki torches, swastikas and white power as their arsenal.

Don’t take a dogmatic approach to an outdated song with an outdated meaning.  Be practical.  Know that every serviceman and woman in this country is saluted by all of those standing up against racial inequality.  It’s only unpatriotic to not be allowed to exercise your right to freedom of speech, something every serviceman and woman fights for.

And let us not forget what the message during these national anthem protests are all about:  Unity as Americans.  Together as human beings. 

Until it becomes a reality, voices and actions need to continue to exercise that freedom of speech in a forum where millions are watching.

That is how you make a difference in the land of liberty and justice for all.   

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