It seems to me that we often have irritants that somehow insinuate themselves into our lives. Sometimes they are very small things that disturb us much more than their minuscule size would indicate such as when I somehow get a tiny pebble in my shoe. It aggravates me no end until I can locate and get rid of it. Those tags on the inside of shirt or pajama collars can be irritating so I usually remove them very carefully avoiding leaving a stub that would prove even more irritating. There are other irritants, however, that are not so physical. I once had a rocking recliner chair that squeaked when I rocked – and that squeaking was intolerable. Anyway, I don’t know how many cans of spray lubricant I used on that chair mechanism but the squeak kept coming back. Finally I got rid of the chair – and the irritating noise.
The reason this subject has surfaced in my consciousness is that some folks in our country are going through what could be called a reaction to an irritant – or several related irritants. While this reaction started with a single individual it has been spreading rather rapidly. The irritant I’m referring to consists of the playing/singing of our national anthem at public events, particularly athletic contests. . (While some folks might object to the manner in which this song is often yodeled by performers who search vainly for almost any correct note, this is not the irritant I allude to.) So what’s the deal?
According to 36 U.S. Code § 301 which I have paraphrased here the composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is designated the national anthem. Conduct during a rendition of the national anthem is prescribed in the following manner.
When the flag is displayed: individuals in military or law enforcement uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and, all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. When the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.
Didja note that those who have dedicated part of their lives in service to our country are granted a special manner of showing their respect – the military salute – in recognition of their loyalty.
Those signs of respect for these symbols of our nation, the anthem and the flag, and what they stand for are the irritants that are the center of this protest movement. The protestors refuse to conform to the protocol prescribed by the U S code and instead employ other physical responses during the playing of our national anthem to show their disrespect, their contempt for our nation.
The leader of this protest movement – a backup quarterback for a professional football team who currently is paid over $9 million a year – has publically proclaimed, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder. ”
He added that he would continue to protest until he feels like, “[the American flag] represents what it’s supposed to represent”. Neither he nor his supporters specify what criteria must be met to end their show of disrespect for and loathing of our country’s anthem and flag, so this presents a problem with no apparent solution.
Well, perhaps there is one. When we encounter irritants we remove them from our lives. We can do so in this case by eliminating the national anthem and removing all national flags from the venues. such as athletic contests, where protestors demonstrate. Furthermore, since the leader of this movement and his followers characterize law enforcement officers as “pigs,” law enforcement officers in uniform should no longer be present. With no anthem, no flags, and no “pigs” there would be no “irritants” to respond to – and no publicity, right?
Sure, lots of people might object to removing our national anthem and our flag from sports events, but lotsa people object to seeing protestors disrespecting our country and this response would eliminate their opportunity to do so. Might be worth a try. At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at [email protected]