About 15 years ago, back when Comrade Hermit was just a lonely, self-absorbed, goth kid at a tiny Central Pennsylvanian Catholic middle school, a president named Bush dropped a shit-ton of bombs on a city called Baghdad for reasons that just didn't add up for yours truly. I had never been particularly political aside from a dedication to the Consistent Life Ethic I had inherited from my devout mother, but watching that beautiful, ancient city get reduced to rubble live on CNN that Sunday night in March, 2003 broke something deep inside of me. It broke my patriotism. It never mended.
The following day I came to school with a peace sign strapped to my right arm and not long after I chose to stop standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. I just couldn't bring myself to salute a flag that flew over the corpses of innocent children like flies. I could no longer muster pride for a nation that condemned terrorism with one hand and committed it with the other.
Needless to say, my minor insurrection didn't rest well with the Vichy jingoists who ran the St. John the Evangelist gulag. I was already on their radar for the high crime of being a sexually confused loner with people problems, this was the straw that broke the camels back. One day I was called into the principals office and accused of everything from Satanic cattle slaughter to planning the next Columbine but what it really all came down to was my treasonous lack of patriotism in those trying times. In their eyes this moral stand against war made a 14 year old kid dangerous enough to the status quo that they felt the need to call the arch diocese to figure out what should be done with me.
All things considered, I got off rather easy. I ended up with a slap on the wrist after they found out I was on anti-depressants. They decided to chock up my civil disobedience to mental illness rather than calling in an exorcist but the damage was done. Word spread of my indiscretions and soon all those fine Christians at the church I grew up in had reduced me and my whole family to leper status, including my devout mother who makes Mother Teresa look like a syphilitic lot lizard. I never trusted another person over thirty again. So much for the 9th Commandment.
A decade and change later, Colin Kaepernick, arguably one of the ten best quarterbacks in the NFL today, is trapped in the veritable Purgatory of free agency because he dared to take a knee during the National Anthem in protest of this countries trigger happy police state. They blame it on the fans in flyover country but the reality is that the One Percenters who own these teams are scared shitless of an inner city black kid with something to say and the brains to back it up. The last thing those Scrooge-y cunts want is another Mohammed Ali on their hands.
Their attempts to silence Kaepernick backfired badly as his stand inspired the better part of the League to take a knee. The spectacle was so great that our Moron In Chief, Donald Trump couldn't help but to pour gasoline on the fire, insulting the players mothers and suggesting they should be fired. It served as a convenient distraction from his smoldering dumpster fire of a presidency, at least until the next mass shooting. But Colin Kaepernick remains unemployed. All because of his principled refusal to genuflect at the alter patriotism. So much for the First Commandment.
I'm not trying to compare myself to Kaepernick. He's clearly payed much more dearly than I did, at least financially, and he runs a far greater risk, as a black man, of getting capped by the pigs than I ever did, as a sullen white teenager, of getting drone striked by neocons (then again....). But the principle remains the same, as does the question- What the hell is wrong with our country? We're talking about pendants and jingles here. Tokens of patriotic kitsch. Is this shit really worth firing talented athletes and traumatizing at-risk teens over? And For what?
Yeah, yeah, I know, "People died for them there flags!" right? Well does that really make it better? As far as I'm concerned that makes it ten times worse. People DIED for that FLAG, literally millions of people, both American soldiers and their victims, died for a fucking rag. A piece of fabric with stars sewn to it that symbolizes undying obedience to a nation founded on the twin pillars of slavery and genocide. These rituals, the Pledge and the Anthem, are designed to sanctify authority the same way the Romans used the cross to justify the crusades and the Germans used the swastika to justify the Third Reich. Patriotism is just a classy word for fascism and fascism always fucking sucks.
So do me and Kap a favor, dearest motherfuckers, burn a flag and take a knee. Lady Liberty could use a good punch in the tits every once in a while.
Peace, Love and Empathy- CH
Soundtrack: Songs that influenced this post.
* B.O.B. By Outkast
* American Girl By Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
* School By Nirvana
* Police Truck By Dead Kennedys
* Policy Of Truth By Depeche Mode
* I'm A African By Dead Prez
* Paper Planes By M.I.A.
* Get Up, Stand Up By Bob Marley & The Wailers
* Rockin' In The Free World By Neil Young
* Minor Threat By Minor Threat