Nationalism - loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially: a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups. An extreme form of patriotism
Patriotism - love for or devotion to one's country
So the NFL has decided to fine any team that has players that do not stand for the National Anthem.
Great, they caved. The growing nationalist sentiment in our country "won." And the country loses as a whole.
Let's not mince words, nationalism is not a good thing. To quote a very insightful post I saw yesterday, a nationalist supports their country no matter what (to expand, even when their country does something that is not worth supporting). A patriot makes their country worth supporting. And sometimes that means fighting back against the country, even when it's not popular. Even when your motives are not understood. Even when it draws undue attention to yourself.
You cannot force patriotism. Even by "requiring" players to stand, they will not be making them patriots or will not be doing the patriotic thing. In fact, it could be argued the greater patriots will be the ones who continue to protest. Like the New York Jets who have already indicated they will pay whatever fine is levied their way.
And let's cut out a disingenuous line of thinking right now - neither the flag nor the National Anthem represent the members of the armed services. And refusing to stand for a National Anthem, to take part in the recitation of the pledge, or the like, is not in any way denigrating or dishonoring their sacrifices. The flag, the National Anthem, and the pledge represent our country as a whole. They represent the United States of America, for good and bad. And you will find many, many veterans who support and recognize that they fought for a citizen's right to protest that flag, the National Anthem, and the pledge. They believe that is what their sacrifice was for.
Because, if we do not have the right to protest, especially peacefully, if we do not have the right to "criticize the King," who are we as a country?
I know some of you take issue with what they are protesting. Some of you take issue with their form of protest. But here's the thing, at some point, when someone tells you that you have hurt them, you have to believe them. If we as a country continue to have a race of people telling us they are still receiving unfair treatment, at some point, we have to believe them. And that requires action to make it better.
I started this with the difference in patriotism and nationalism. And here is what the issue really boils down to for me.
The patriotic response to this issue would be to say "I recognize that you have identified an issue that needs to be addressed. Let's work together so that we can make this a country you have no problem standing for. And I'll stand by you until you can."
The nationalist says, "just get in line."
What will happen when it's our turn to kneel in protest? Given especially how some Christians paint the state of our nation and the "degradation" of Christian's rights in this country, that could be a lot sooner than anyone would think. How will we respond when it's our turn? And what will we expect from those around us?
Let's do better.
Update - 7:06 am, 5/24/18 - I did not expect to add to this so soon, but now apparently our President thinks 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."
No. Just no. There are many reasons why people do not stand. And there have been long recognized reasons for not doing so. There are religious freedom reasons why people do not stand, including for particular groups within the Christian religion (groups who will not swear allegiance to or exalt anything beyond God alone).
To make such a statement goes against the very core of the foundation of our country.
How have we come this far?