The President has spoken (again) about the national anthem. And now that he has gotten his wish to “get that son of a bitch off the field” (a line borrowed from an FDR fireside chat, possibly) who declines to stand for the anthem, the President has offered a broad proclamation regarding his expectations.
It’s sufficiently broad to apply not only to the players and everyone else at field level, but to everyone else in the stadium.
“I don’t think people should be staying in the locker rooms,” the President said on FOX News Channel. “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem.”
One of the common arguments raised regarding on-the-job NFL anthem protests relates to the notion that, for most people, this kind of behavior would not be tolerated in their workplaces, and that the First Amendment rights the players hope to exercise on the sidelines don’t restrict private employers from establishing workplace rules that prohibit it. Regardless of whether those arguments have any real merit (especially when the anthem is being played in stadiums built in whole or in part by public money), the President’s latest words on the subject apply far more broadly than to the players at an NFL game.
“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or . . . you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”
This applies to anyone and everyone who is attending the game. All 70,000-plus people. Every last one of them. It applies to the fans in the stands who aren’t taking off their hats and aren’t standing at attention and aren’t ignoring their cellphones and aren’t not eating hot dogs and aren’t not screaming profanities and other insults at players from the visiting team.
It applies to the fans who are in the rest room or in line to get there. It applies to fans in concession lines. It applies to the concession workers.
It applies to everyone in the press box. It applies to everyone in the luxury suites. It particularly applies to the owners and their family members, friends, sponsors, and other assorted muckety-mucks who are schmoozing in the back of the box while the anthem is playing. (This year, there could be some interesting fan-made videos of what actually is happening in the owners’ suites during the anthem.)
Above all else, fans should do nothing during the playing of the anthem to in any way disrespect the song, including screaming “Ooooooooh!” at the outset of the “oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave!” or, in Kansas City, replacing the the final words of the song with “and the home of the Chiefs.”
Anyone who doesn’t comply with those standards isn’t truly standing proudly for the national anthem. And we now know you have to stand proudly for the anthem or you shouldn’t be there.
Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.