What should guide U.S. immigration policy: self-interest or charity?
Date: Jan. 24, 2017
Author: John Garvey
You do not have to be a football fan to have heard about the controversy that erupted over the national anthem this season in the N.F.L. It began with Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, who took a knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest the treatment of African-Americans in this country. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said when asked to explain his action.
The demonstration caught on in other venues, including the N.B.A., professional women’s soccer, college cheerleaders, high school bands.
I confess I was offended. Federal law says that when the national anthem is played, people should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. There is, of course, no penalty for violation; the First Amendment would not allow it. But the protests take the bitterness and division of politics today a step further, into dangerous territory. They show a disdain for the country, not a particular party or candidate. Simple exercises like singing the national anthem at football games may seem trivial. But in a nation as large and diverse as ours, it is a ritual that serves to bind us together.
But my reflection on these symbolic protests has led me down a surprising path. The protesters got attention precisely because they took seriously the moral implications of standing during the national anthem. If it were indeed an empty ritual, there would be no point in protesting against it. But it is not like singing the 49ers fight song. Rather, our standing together is an affirmation of America’s essential goodness and a personal commitment to preserve, protect and defend our country. ...
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