Angry Listener Forces me to Reconsider Anthem Stance


Dallas Mavericks v Atlanta Hawks

Dallas Mavericks v Atlanta Hawks

This posting is not meant to imply that I'm never wrong. I'm wrong all the time. But it is rare when I change my opinion on something so quickly, as has happened today.

Here's the background:

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, as recently as 2017, said he expected his players to stand during the National Anthem, with hands over hearts. He has since agreed with those athletes who protest during the Anthem, and has even suggested he'd join them in protest. This season, though, he just decided to solve the issue by no longer having the Star-Spangled Banner before Mavericks games.

I said on the radio this morning that I was fine with this decision. Not only have I complained about several disrespecting the Anthem during sporting events over the years (not standing, not stopping talking, not removing their hats, changing the last word to CHIEFS!!!!!, etc.), but I guess I've never really understood why we need to have someone sing the song before every single sporting event anyway. It wouldn't make me less patriotic if they stopped doing that.

But then Lucy Chapman asked a great question on the radio this morning as I was espousing this opinion. "Where are people going to hear it, then?" I fumbled for answers as I could hear her question repeated by that annoying little voice in my head. Where are people going to hear it, then?

It was as I wrapped up the radio show this morning that this e-mail from Michael slapped me across the brain:

For someone with supposed principals and morals you are seriously disappointing. I’ve seriously lost a lot of respect for you today. Just disregard the anthem. Let the disrespect go to another level. I’m a disabled combat veteran and you just stabbed all patriots in the back. I don’t have the time to tell how I really feel but I think I’m done listening to you. Props to Mary for standing up to you. (He meant Lucy; Mary is on in the afternoon with Chris Baker.)

Until that moment, I'd only looked at this as an either/or issue at NBA games: Either you sing the Anthem and watch players kneel in protest and everyone gets upset, or you just don't sing the Anthem and the problem is solved. Right?

No, that's wrong. Eliminating the National Anthem is just one more step towards creating a society where we just cancel anything that makes some people irrationally uncomfortable. And it eliminates a beautifully jarring sentiment that happens all across America when the Anthem is sung: Seeing the tears well up in the eyes of a veteran or a veteran's family member who has a very personal relationship with that song and that for which is stands.

We need more chances for young people to hear our nation's rallying cry and consider what it means to those around us, the good and the bad. Simply eliminating the song ends that important discourse, and we clearly need more of that (and the empathy that goes along with it) today.