Yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence made a powerful statement. He visited the Colts-49ers game. He stood for the National Anthem and presentation of colors and when a number of players did their kneeling schtick, the Vice President left the stadium.
For about a year now, a coterie of spoiled millionaires has been using the setting of what used to be the nation’s favorite spectator sport to advertise their contempt for a nation that has given them a lot and asked for absolutely nothing in return…other than a tiny bit of pretend respect. Somehow we are all supposed to nod our heads solemnly and agree that they have a right to show this contempt and we, out of some obligation to some conservative principle that for the life of me I can’t identify, are all supposed to go along with it.
There is no doubt that what Mike Pence did yesterday was calculated. You can call it a stunt if you wish but so what? Is there a law that says you can pull stunts but I can’t pull a counter-stunt. Inasmuch as it was a stunt it was much less so than the egregious bullsh** the NFL has allowed its players to pull every week because Pence’s stunt actually supported a civic norm that we all should support but many seem unable to for no greater reason than Donald Trump is president.
Yesterday was the foreseeable climax of this drama. Eventually, either Trump or Pence had to show up for an NFL game or they were going to be accused of being afraid to do so. Once either showed up it was obvious what had to happen. They could either walk out or tacitly endorse the protest using the “I oppose abortion but who am I to interfere with your choice” method so beloved of Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins. Obviously they were going to walk.
Being president is as much about symbolism as it is about policy. If the House and Senate are under its current leadership, symbolism becomes more important because the Congress is simply unable to pass legislation or confirm appointees.
The president has been an opponent of this institutionally supported disrespect to the nation and the best way to combat symbolism is with symbolism. Pence’s symbolism was, in my view, exactly what was needed to bring this nonsense to an end and it had some immediate effects. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, referencing Mike Pence’s walk out, has ordered the Cowboys to stand.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Sunday that any of his players who disrespect the flag during the national anthem won’t play in games.
“I’m saying our vice president, if in his opinion, there’s disrespect of the flag then he should express himself however he wants to say. He’s got rights, too. He felt that not standing for the flag is disrespectful. I do, too. The league in my mind should absolutely take the rules we’ve got on the books and make sure that we do not give the perception that we’re disrespecting the flag.”
This morning, the Miami Dolphins said no more kneeling:
Add the Miami Dolphins to the list of teams that will not tolerate kneeling during the national anthem.
“We’re standing for the national anthem,” head coach Adam Gase said Monday, per Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel. “If you don’t want to stand, stay in the locker room.”
I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind. But my ass is really tired at being told what I have to believe by people whose ideology apparently stops at “Donald Trump is the anti-Christ.” If you think calculated disrespect for the national colors and National Anthem is deserving of anything but public mockery, don’t expect me to go along with you.
At one time conservatives could have agreed that opposing a grotesque, public disrespect for the nation was something that we could all oppose. For 20 years, support for a Constitutional amendment banning flag burning was part of the GOP platform. Those times are apparently long gone.
If you think what Mike Pence did yesterday was wrong, we don’t have any common ground and so discussion or argument would just be wasted effort on both our parts.