For those who aver that one is constitutionally obligated to stand for the playing of the national anthem lest ye suffer eternal hell fire, no matter what, I must ask that you try a little thought experiment. If it is postulated that the principle of "standing for the anthem" is non-negotiable and sacrosanct then it should follow that one's conclusions should not be altered by particularities. In other words, the circumstances currently stated to be insufficiently exculpatory for not adhering to the over arching dictum of proper patriotic behavior, i.e. a collection of black athletes protesting police brutality and unequal application of the law, should be irrelevant to one's stance on the matter. The principle is all that matters. Standing for the flag. No matter what. The racially charged subtext is mere fluff and distraction. One is simply being principled.
If this is truly the case then imagine the following scenario:
In response to the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting of 2012, President Barack Obama is able to harness enough public support and leverage enough political capital to push through a bill that bans all semi-automatic assault rifles from the open market, closes the gun show loop hole and enacts additional regulatory measures involving waiting periods and background checks in an attempt to decrease the number of mass shootings in America. The country has had enough. Something needed to be done. On the whole, the new legislation is popular; polls show that 62% of Americans approve. It is universally acknowledged by political pundits across the spectrum that President Obama has taken a terrible tragedy and effectively transformed it into a force for change.
But not all Americans.
Some are pissed. The NRA is chastened by the defeat. But many in the heartland, still stung by Obama's comment about "clinging to guns and religion" decide they need to make a stand. This is the beginning of socialism, of government intrusion into our lives, the end of freedom, the end of America as we know it.
Six weeks later at the Daytona 500, several drivers band together and decide to protest the recent gun control legislation by remaining in their cars during the playing of the national anthem. Afterwards, they express their undiminished respect for American soldiers and the sacrifices of the military but that this present attack on their 2nd Amendment rights as American citizens warrants and deserves an unyielding stand.
President Obama, feeling confident, perhaps even a bit cocky after his recent legislative triumph, re-affirms the incontrovertible justice of the recent gun control legislation and asks: what kind of American doesn't stand for the National Anthem? Don't these drivers know that they are privileged to be able to earn millions of dollars per year? Don't they realize that it isn't their own (now illegal) semi-automatic weapons gathering dust in basement gun cases that made this possible but the blood and tears of the soldiers of yesteryear and today who made this country free and safe for capitalism's prosperous advantages?
He ends his speech by demanding that NASCAR team owners make their drivers stand for the anthem. The oratory builds and builds to his climax: "To all those drivers who refuse to stand, let me be clear: Please step out of your cars, sirs! Please. Please step out of your cars for America! Let us stand together as one, let us stand as Americans!"
Is hypothetical Obama being a righteous patriot? Or is he infringing on the rights of Americans to protest a perceived injustice? Which is it? And how does your answer square with Colin Kaepernick and the current African American athlete protests?
Are you principled? Or is it something else?