May 4, 2011

The National Anthem And The Idea Of Respect

Peter Abraham has an Extra Bases post criticizing various Red Sox and Angels players and coaches for not being in the dugout when the national anthem was played before last night's game.

There is no rule stating that players have to be on the field or in the dugout during the anthem, although there was a note posted on each clubhouse door before Monday's game: "Be in the dugout for the National Anthem!" I cannot be sure, but I believe all players and coaches were standing along the two foul lines during the celebration of the reported death of Osama bin Laden.

But then Tuesday came, and Abraham got miffed,
when the National Anthem was performed, there were eight people standing outside the dugout, most of them Terry Francona and his coaches. The Angels had a few more, maybe 11. The note on the clubhouse door had been erased.

Maybe there should be a rule. ...

To me, it's not asking too much for every player to [sic] on the field for the National Anthem and stand in something of a straight line for two minutes. I understand that MLB has players from countries across the globe and that the the [sic] song may not mean much, if anything, to some of them. ...

But do it anyway. Showing respect shouldn't be something that is occasional.
Abraham's insistence upon "respect", while making a point in the context of celebrating someone's murder during an illegal invasion/occupation that has lasted almost 10 years, has killed or displaced more than 5,000,000 citizens of Iraq (estimates in 2007 were of 4 million), led to the torture and rape of innocent men, women, and children in secret concentration camps around the world (one camp was going to be in Illinois), cost US taxpayers nearly $1.2 trillion so far (the final total will likely top $3 trillion), and killed nearly 4,500 American troops and injured hundreds of thousands more (at least 320,000 veterans have severe brain injuries), seems somewhat incongruous, but maybe that's me.

As I said in comments on Monday, I found the ceremony bizarre, disgusting, and devoid of anything except theatrical artifice. The decision to have the ceremony and drop the giant flag from the Wall was made -- not by MLB, as I first thought -- but by Red Sox ownership. I'm sickened and saddened by their decision to pander to the common bloodlust of the public in an arena that should not prize one political opinion over another.

Which brings me to the anthem. I believe the practice of playing the national anthem before sporting events should be abolished. If you step back far enough, it becomes a very strange idea. We do not play a recording of the anthem before we begin our jobs, or before we watch a play or movie, or before a marathon begins. The only apparent reason to keep doing it is "we've been doing it for a long time". Which is not a reason at all.

Jingoism, like religion, should be something that people can practice freely in their own homes, churches, or other meeting places, but not in public. If Red Sox fans want to sing the national anthem before a game, they can do it in their own homes before they leave their house, or maybe in their car on the drive to the park. If that sounds silly, then perhaps you'll understand how I feel when I think about the anthem being played in baseball parks.

The Red Sox showed no "respect" to those fans who may have disagreed with the idea of the ceremony, but came to the game unaware of what was going to happen, and likely (and understandably) felt under tremendous pressure to not voice or show any displeasure with what was going on, and to simply go along with the other 37,000 people.

If the anthem will not be canned - and it won't - then the pre-game ceremonies should include the national anthem of every player on either roster. For instance, at tonight's Red Sox/Angels game, to show the proper "respect" to every player in uniform, we should hear the national anthems of:
United States
Japan
Venezuela
Dominican Republic
Australia
Mexico
Puerto Rico
In the end, Abraham pisses on the very idea of freedom that he implies is at the root of the celebration. In a nutshell, the US military is fighting for freedom and everyone should respect that. (Again, pro-military = normal; anti-military = political, which is bad and unwanted at a ball game.)

Abraham says he knows that not everyone cares about the US's national anthem, he truly understands that, but who the hell cares? In the name of freedom, do what you are told! Because it's all about "respect".

40 comments:

9casey said...

Thats why you are Canadian...

allan said...

Thats why you are Canadian...

Because I value individual freedom of choice? ... I don't stand for "Oh Canada", either. And I'm not happy my current taxes are subsidizing death and torture in Afghanistan. I don't think where I live factors into this post all that much.

May 4, 2011 3:29 PM

Jim said...

PAbe's colours are becoming more and more apparent. Comments-whore, bully, sanctimonious and not as objective as he pretends. Very deliberate to whom and when he uses four-letter words like "just" and "only" for background stats.
I'd say something nasty about big guys with no necks and brush cuts that start in the middle of their foreheads, but I'm not like that.

allan said...

Comments-whore, bully, sanctimonious and not as objective as he pretends. Very deliberate to whom and when he uses four-letter words like "just" and "only" for background stats.

The snark of the blog posts, his obsession with Crawford's bank account, and his apparent (so I have heard) inability to take criticism aside, I have found his few social or political comments actually refreshing. They have often come in his waiting-in-the-airport entries and while they were not radical by any means, I was pleasantly surprised at them.


Very deliberate to whom and when he uses four-letter words like "just" and "only" for background stats.

I'm unclear of how this would appear. Any examples?

FenFan said...

I went to Wikipedia to look at the "National anthem" page. A small excerpt (with my emphasis):

National anthems... have also come to be closely connected with sporting events. During sporting competitions, such as the Olympic Games, the national anthem of the gold medal winner is played at each medal ceremony; also played before games in many sports leagues, since being adopted in baseball during World War II. When teams from two different nations play each other, the anthems of both nations are played, the host nation's anthem being played last.

These was a link following the bold text that I had hoped would shed more light but it only led to a photograph and a short text. But, given the time period, it sounds like it was born out of WWII and US culture at the time.

laura k said...

Beautiful post, Allan.

9C, just FYI, I felt this way my entire life, long before I ever dreamed of living in Canada. The US is said to be a free country. Yet if you don't conform to rituals like this... No need to finish that thought, I've posted my GBA enough here, I'm sure!

Nathan said...

I suspect this will not be one of your more popular posts, but I have to say that I think this is one of your best.

Steve Promisel said...

I enjoy your detailed baseball analysis....your politics, not so much. Getting rid of Bin Laden eliminates a symbol for people that celebrate death more than they love life. I have to think that you would be approaching this differently if busses and cafes started blowing up down the street from your home. There is no reasoning with people who love death over life, just need to send them on their way to hell.

As far as the National Anthem goes, I'd rather have a reminder that we live in a country where there is a very low risk of people shooting up the field...there are too many places in this world where people risk their lives just to attend a sporting event.

Jim said...

Actually, I never used to bother with the "Extra Bases" stuff until I noticed his updates sometime last season. I was initially impressed with the way he was always filing reports with info that had game relevance. That's all I look for. I get my entertainment from watching the games. Lately, I've found him irritating--maybe I'm getting too sensitive about how it seems be to all about the hype these days. Like who continually poured gas on the fire of pre-season expectations and are now carping about poor starts? How about every writer in Boston.
As for examples of his "just" and "only" to modify simple stats, I'll have to try to find some links. I guess my broader point is that you don't need to point out that somebody has "only" (insert stat). Nothing today except for Crawford's "bad jump". He didn't get ANY jump cuz he was watching the ball--the correct move. Then scored anyway--which Pete rightly describes. I'm waiting to see how he words Salty and Dice-K performances when appropriate because those are 2 (to me) he rarely has anything good to say about (even when warranted).

Jere said...

I completely agree with Allan on this post. (And as a bonus, I've found PeteAbe's postings off-putting since about a month into his covering the team, at which point I stopped reading him.)

On Sunday, hours before we found out about Osama, I was in the bleachers and couldn't help but notice that many of the players still were in the clubhouse at anthem time. Only four were on the field. I thought this was odd--but ONLY because it means they still weren't out there that close to game time. (But even in that case, so what, as long as they take the field when the game starts. I wonder if Abe's ever been stuck on the concession line during the anthem.) Turned out to be a funny picture since even the mascot (there for VT day) was out there, and stood there with a goofy smile on his face next to Pedroia.

Then the next night, I had tickets. But I didn't go. I didn't know the team would be doing anything special, but I imagined what the reaction to the anthem would be. It usually scares me anyway, but in this case I didn't even wanna be there. I imagined people beating me up for not chanting USA. After seeing they did a full-on ceremony, I'm glad I made the right decision to avoid the place altogether. Also note that they whipped out god bless america in the 7th that night, which is normally only played on Sundays and holidays. Would they have done all this for an announcement that we're pulling troops OUT of somewhere? I think not.

Kimberly said...

I totally agree with this. I especially abhor the fly-over. What does a fleet of death machines have to do with baseball?

allan said...

I have to think that you would be approaching this differently if busses and cafes started blowing up down the street from your home.

I lived in New York City from 1987-2005, and in Manhattan for the last 15 of those 18 years. I worked in the World Trade Center's North Tower (59th floor) for three years. Some of my co-workers had been during the 1991 bombing, and I am sure some of them were there in 2001.

On September 12, my partner and I went down the west side of Manhattan to 14th Street, as far south as regular citizens was allowed to go, where we (and hundreds of other people) stood around and stared at the hole in the skyline and smelled the acrid smell of whatever was burning down there.

mattymatty said...

Abraham's insistence upon "respect", while making a point in the context of celebrating someone's murder during an illegal invasion/occupation that has lasted almost 10 years, has killed or displaced more than 5,000,000 citizens of Iraq (estimates in 2007 were of 4 million), led to the torture and rape of innocent men, women, and children in secret concentration camps around the world (one camp was going to be in Illinois), cost US taxpayers nearly $1.2 trillion so far (the final total will likely top $3 trillion), and killed nearly 4,500 American troops and injured hundreds of thousands more (at least 320,000 veterans have severe brain injuries), seems somewhat incongruous, but maybe that's me.

[fingers in ears] Communist!!

No seriously, you couldn't be more right about this if you tried, Allan. I just read Abraham's piece and immediately came here hoping you had commented on it. Thanks for that.

laura k said...

I have to think that you would be approaching this differently if busses and cafes started blowing up down the street from your home.

The World Trade Center blew up down the street from me. Yet I feel the death of Osama bin Laden is utterly meaningless, and I found the celebration of it disgusting.

And many people in war-torn countries want peace, rather than revenge.

As far as the National Anthem goes, I'd rather have a reminder that we live in a country where there is a very low risk of people shooting up the field...there are too many places in this world where people risk their lives just to attend a sporting event.

It sounds as if you might benefit from another kind of reminder. Right now, the country that you celebrate is blowing up homes, cafes, weddings, schools, hospitals and so on, in at least two different countries.

The Afghans and Iraqis who live under that terrorism, yet had no part in 9/11, would also like to be able to attend a sporting event - or simply live in peace. Just like you.

allan said...

Steve: Thanks for disagreeing in a civilly. It's a dying art form.

... eliminates a symbol for people that celebrate death more than they love life. ... There is no reasoning with people who love death over life, just need to send them on their way to hell.

There is only one country on earth that is hellbent one exporting death and destruction to every corner of the earth in service of its own selfish desires. There is only one country that is currently running military operations in 75 different countries. There is only one country that has used a nuclear weapon on a civilian population -- and then three days later, did it again. There is only one country on earth than insists on having its military bases in numerous countries around the world with reciprocation. That country, the country of my birth, is much more comfortable with death and the elimination of democracy than any other country or group on earth. That is simply a historical fact.

And the death of this one guy* will not create one job, or give one family a place to live, or give a starving person a dinner. It will do exactly nothing - like you said, it's a symbol.

* OBL was offered to the US by the Taliban a few weeks after 9/11 if the US would provide the evidence the US said it had that linked OBL to 9/11. You can debate whether that offer was legit, but the fact is the US flatly refused. And despite promising in late 2001 to show the world that evidence (Colin Powell's infamous white paper), it has never been shown to anyone (if it ever existed).

allan said...

That should be the 1993 WTC bombing in my comment above, not 1991.

allan said...

You can all thank (or curse) Tim for this post. He was replying to something related to my complaining to the Red Sox PR Dept. the other day and then said: "Oh god. PA just came up in my twitter feed with something about the national anthem. This oughta make for a good JoS post later."

I did not not what he meant, but thought I was done with this subject and would not even bother looking. But so I looked and ...

My reply to Tim was: "well, thanks a lot for showing me that... that was 90 minutes i could have spent outside with the dogs!"

allan said...

The anthem was played before the first game of the 1918 World Series. (Boston's third baseman, Fred Thomas, received special permission to leave the Navy base he was at for 10 days and play for the Red Sox.)

And I believe it was played at every other game, too, though I don't recall many specific mentions of it in game stories from the time. There was a band on the field for that series. (Public PA systems came around in the early '40s, so that obviously helped.)

I don't know how common it was to play the anthem before games through the 20s and 30s.

allan said...

Right now, the country that you celebrate is blowing up homes, cafes, weddings, schools, hospitals and so on, in at least two different countries.

The Afghans and Iraqis who live under that terrorism, yet had no part in 9/11, would also like to be able to attend a sporting event - or simply live in peace. Just like you.


This is very important to remember.

Jim said...

Back to our regularly scheduled post--apologies--I didn't mean to hijack with the PAbe rant.
I'd only add one thing to your post--how does everyone enjoy air travel these days? Border crossings? Anyone expect any changes? (rhetorical)
You can't legislate respect. No matter what you think about somehow equating a national anthem with the military, routinely playing it at a commercial sporting event trivializes it. Besides, it's been turned into entertainment anyway. Who's doing it and did they butcher it is reverence? Forcing people (and players) to stand there in order to demonstrate their "freedom" needs no further comment.

Rasputin said...

Getting rid of Bin Laden eliminates a symbol for people that celebrate death more than they love life...There is no reasoning with people who love death over life, just need to send them on their way to hell.

You're celebrating a death because it's a victory for people who value life more than death? Fucking for virginity and all that.

I am not anti-military. I think we need one and should respect and honor the people who serve in it because they're called on to put their asses on the line so I can sit on my ass and watch baseball.

That said, I shouldn't have to say that to be taken as a sincere, patriotic American who loves his country despite its flaws.

And you know what is more important than America? Americans. And Canadians, Czechs, Slovaks, Australians, Russians, Iraqis, Pakistanis, and Saudis.

People are what matter.

The death of Bin Laden is only justified because he is among the tiny fraction of the world's population that is the most evil.

We shouldn't be singing the national anthem before every game because it cheapens the anthem. People who put their hands over their hearts for God Bless America (which we also shouldn't play, but for other reasons) piss me right off.

When you cheapen sincere feelings to the point where they become routine rituals and are only noted in their absence then you have cheapened them too far.

If I were running the Red Sox, I would have an opening day ceremony where I played the national anthem of every player on both teams. Celebrate the universality of the game. In a world where there are so many things driving us apart I think we should spend some time remembering the things that bring us together.

Jere said...

"played the national anthem of every player on both teams. Celebrate the universality of the game."

The Sox had the right idea back in 2007.

Steve Promisel said...

I guess we'll disagree on this one. I've spent enough time in the Middle East (in Arab countries and Israel) to understand that while there are plenty of people that want peace, schools, running water, and food, there are too many people in power in Iran, Gaza, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc that simply want to eliminate anyone or anything that stands in their way. I'd love to live in a world where we don't need to spend tax dollars on maintaining a strong military force but we just aren't there.

Ewa said...

I also saw PAbe's post and came right here looking for another perspective. Keep up the good work Allan.

tim said...

Thank you for posting this. As I told you in e-mail, thank you for translating my thoughts into something more sensible than "that's fucking bullshit!"

***

The anthem is a meaningless tradition, which exists solely because it is a TRADITION. There is no real reason for the anthem to be sung before the start of what started out as a children's game.

As stupid as it was, the fact that they told the fans not to boo the anthems before the Bruins/Montreal playoff games shed some light on how stupid the tradition is. There are more Americans on the Montreal Canadiens than the Bruins have; same thing vice versa (as far as I know) which just furthers the point that the anthem isn't actually about the players on the field/rink.

As for PA, I agree with A that some of his offbeat political comments were actually amusing to me, this is a bit of a shock as I thought he was rather progressive. While his other comments (i.e. Crawford's salary) irritate me, his baseball analysis is decent and I hope he at least continues that part of his blogging. All this anthem shit needs to stop though.

Tim said...

Out of curiosity, why not post what
I imagine have to be a deluge of negative comments, only posting the ones that agree with you, or that you can bash?

allan said...

Actually, I have rejected only one comment. It was around 3:45 or so and it was positive, but he was plugging his own website, so I zapped it.

johngoldfine said...

We shouldn't be singing the national anthem before every game because it cheapens the anthem.

Games I go to, very very few people actually sing. A few sort of moan or bleat rhythmically, myself among them.

If you wanted to eliminate the Anthem the day after tomorrow, all you would have to do is end the organ or canned music tomorrow--if it were up to the 37K people in Fenway to actually sing without accompaniment, it would be the vaguest of whispers.

I thought the Osama celebration was revolting, but I don't think singing the national anthem before games, graduations, or at any public gathering is bad, however bad the policies, attitudes, or actions of the nation. The Anthem is not tendentious, has no particular political or religious slant, and belongs to everyone.

'God Bless America' is a different story.

Dr S said...

This brings me back to the good-old-days when I could fire up JOS and get both a political and baseball fix all in one spot.

I like the hybrid genre here, I say keep it going like its 2003/4/5 (is that the right time frame?).

laura k said...

And you know what is more important than America? Americans. And Canadians, Czechs, Slovaks, Australians, Russians, Iraqis, Pakistanis, and Saudis.

People are what matter.


Amen to that. Thank you.

laura k said...

I guess we'll disagree on this one. I've spent enough time in the Middle East (in Arab countries and Israel) to understand that while there are plenty of people that want peace, schools, running water, and food, there are too many people in power in Iran, Gaza, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc that simply want to eliminate anyone or anything that stands in their way.

I agree with this completely. I would simply insert the words "US" into both sides of the list.

If Steve is from the US and he has lived in the Middle East, and he does not include the US in his list of countries/peoples that "simply want to eliminate anyone or anything that stands in their way", he is either outright lying or wilfully ignorant.

See Allan's list for "only one country". Those are not opinions that can be disagreed with. They are facts.

Steve Promisel said...

Wow, so much for civility...I do not appreciate being called a liar or ignorant. It is clear that you don't like my government (which, by the way, my government allows you to fully express your opinion compared to the other countries on my previous list). That's fine, it's your opinion. And if you want to insult people that disagree with you, that's fine too. My opinion is, relatively speaking (no government or society is perfect), I'd rather have my government with its flaws than have a significant lack of freedom and continual risk of life that is a way of life in Iran, Saudi, et al.

Allan, I respectfully suggest that this blog sticks to baseball....

laura k said...

I chose my words carefully, and have re-read my comment several times. I don't think it's insulting or uncivil, merely factual.

This is Allan's blog, not mine, so if you find my comments uncivil, that should not reflect on Allan at all.

Obviously, however, what Allan posts is entirely up him. Many JoS readers love Allan's political posts (as this thread indicates).

laura k said...

The choice of war and imperialism vs freedom of speech is a false dichotomy. Many non-aggressive, non-imperialistic countries enjoy freedom of speech.

allan said...

(which, by the way, my government allows you to fully express your opinion compared to the other countries on my previous list

That is simply not true. (Not that it matters, but for 43 years, it was also my government.)

Check out Matthew Rothschild's "You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression".

There are no doubt thousands of instances throughout American history (including all the way back to the Sedition Act of 1798, which imposed criminal penalties for unpopular speech against the president less than a decade after the First Amendment was created) that disprove your statement, but I'll limit myself to a few things I read in depth about while researching the 1918 Red Sox:

Eugene Debs was sentenced to 10 years in prison for speaking out against World War I in public. (He ran for president in 1920 from his Atlanta jail cell - and received a million votes.)

Robert Prager of Collinsville, Illinois, was lynched for allegedly making pro-German statements.

A mob of 200 people in Willard, Ohio, forced a German couple to salute and kiss the American flag, and fly it outside their store.

Karl Muck, the conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, was arrested, held in a Georgia internment camp for more than a year, and forceibly deported.

Kate Richards O'Hare was sentenced to prison for expressing anti-war views in a letter to her local newspaper.

I respectfully suggest that this blog sticks to baseball....

I saw no reason to mention this story at all (because I believe it is extremely trivial) until the Red Sox got involved.

If you want me to stop posting about the Red Sox waving their pom-poms for war and death, I suggest you tell the Red Sox to stop waving their pom-poms for war and death.

allan said...

I realize that some of those examples above do not involve the government, but I think the point stands.

andy said...

Rasputin that comment was amazing...right on.

Allan, great post...I also saw it on Extra Bases and wondered what may appear up here. The entire discussion in here was very interesting to read.

Thanks as always for such quality material.

Dr S said...

In all seriousness, one of the things that has historically made this blog excellent (and it really is a shame that you have pulled away from this model for a while now) is the combination of politics and baseball. To my mind, it has always read as a refreshing counter-voice to the implicit conservatism of the baseball world.

And on this particular issue, the jingoism at baseball parks is pretty awful and has only become worse since 01. Try not standing for the anthem and the troglodytes come after you quickly.

allan said...

Excellent timing!

Restoration Of "Star Spangled Banner" Uncovers Horrifying New Verses

deang said...

We do not play a recording of the anthem before we begin our jobs

Don't give American employers any ideas, Allan. There are several places I've worked where starting the day with the national anthem or the pledge of allegiance would have been perfectly in keeping with management's political views.

Great post, by the way.