I just read an article about George Steinbrenner's security staff ejecting a paying fan from Yankees Stadium because he left his seat to go to the bathroom during the singing of 'God Bless America'. Apparently, Steinbrenner implemented an order some time ago that everyone in the stadium (who PAID to be there, mind you) has to stand still and silent during the singing of the 'National Anthem' and 'God Bless America' (it seems he even had chains installed on the end of each row of seats to keep people in place!) or his Storm Troopers... sorry, I mean his security staff... could remove them from the game.
OK... is it just me, or does this sound Hitleresque to anyone else out there? Now, I'll admit that I'm not the most nationalistic person on the planet, which is shocking, really, given that I grew up in such a right-wing, patriotic house... hell, maybe that's the reason I feel the way I do (or don't)... I dunno. I'm certainly not an America-hater, though. I'm very appreciative of the freedoms I'm afforded by living here and I'm extremely appreciative and respectful of how hard-won most of those freedoms were. As such, I have great respect for the military (though not their current leader) and when our government or the American public provides support elsewhere in the world, or when Americans pull together to solve a crisis here at home, I do feel a sense of pride. I won't say that I'm necessarily proud to have grown up here, as I didn't have any say in the matter (and had the Australian or New Zealand government accepted our family's applications for entry back in the 60's, I very possibly would have grown up in the Southern Hemisphere), and I could move away from here without feeling like I'm betraying anyone or anything. I think most countries and governments have their fair share of positives and negatives, and like many Americans (far more patriotic than myself), I'm certainly not proud of some of things our government has done (here and abroad), and I have absolutely zero respect for the current administration (again, like many, many Americans... which, just to clarify, doesn't make them un-patriotic).
So, as I say, I'm not the most nationalistic person and I actually DO tend to stand respectfully for the 'National Anthem', but I think it's un-American (and indeed, Hitleresque) for someone to tell me I MUST do it, especially in a venue I paid money to be in! Showing respect under force is not respect at all, is it? It's compliance... it's bowing to coercion and intimidation. Do we no longer have the right to disagree with the powers that be? What about the right to choose for ourselves whom and what we respect? What happened to an American's right to dissent? And bear in mind, I'm not talking about a man standing on his seat, waving his arms and screaming, "America Sucks! All Americans should die!" I'm talking about a man who had to pee, and chose the period of time when the bathrooms would be empty to go so he wouldn't miss any of the baseball game HE PAID TO SEE (and if you've ever been in the bathroom of a large stadium during any sort of break in the action, you know exactly why he left his seat when he did). I've no idea what side of the political fence this poor guy sits on; I don't know whether he loves or hates his country; whether he's a Christian or an Athiest; whether he flies an American flag or burns them every chance he gets. But in the end, does it really matter? Does anyone have the right to force his beliefs on others? George Steinbrenner thinks so. I say thank God he's not in politics. But I'd bet that if he was, there'd be a few of us out there, shouting "Heil George!"