Remaining Seated for the Star-Spangled Banner

When I went to the soccer game between the San Jose Earthquakes – an unfortunate name choice – and Toronto FC yesterday, as has been my practice since Donald Trump became President, I remained seated for the Star-Spangled Banner. As far as I could see no one else in the crowd, except my son Nathaniel who shares my views, joined me. And, Canadian soccer fans not being a particularly politicized group, no one else cared.

But for me, sitting for the Star-Spangled Banner is a political statement about my disagreement with virtually every policy position as well as the character of the current President of the United States. I was inspired to this action by (former?) NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest against racism that began before Donald Trump became President.

Sitting for the Star-Spangled Banner is also an expression of frustration. As a non-citizen, I am generally not entitled to participate politically in the US. I am not allowed to donate to American political causes. US elected officials, including those I know personally, have obligations only to their constituents. I can urge the Canadian Government to indicate its displeasure with the Trump Administration, but I know that the Canadian Government’s policy has generally been that of non-interference, in order to get the best possible deal in the NAFTA negotiations. Prime Minister Trudeau’s oft-repeated unwillingness “to lecture” the Trump Administration seems to encapsulate Canada’s approach.

There are a few things I have done and am doing to express opposition constructively. I participate in a list-serv with members of my undergraduate class, almost all of whom are Americans. I try to provide a unique perspective to influence their thinking. After the Senate’s close but wise decision not to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, I wrote a post entitled “Health Care is a Fundamental Human Right,” making the argument that it is better to think about health care from a human rights perspective, as is the case in most other countries, than from an insurance perspective. I felt gratified that this post got considerable response.

In my teaching and writing I try to analyze various aspects of the Trump campaign and administration and to go beyond the analysis to make judgments. As soon as Trump began to appoint cabinet secretaries, I anticipated conflict with career public servants and wrote about it in my post last December 9. I was prescient. I will soon be writing an article about public sector innovation, and I will show why the Trump Administration’s practices discourage it. These are practical things I have done and will continue to do.

I would not recommend that American opponents of President Trump remain seated for their national anthem. They are more effective if they speak as patriots and do not in any way undercut their bona fides. And I recognize that standing for a national anthem is an expression of respect for a nation, regardless of what one thinks of its leadership. I will stand during other national anthems. Nonetheless, I will continue to sit out the American national anthem while Donald Trump is President and in other personal ways do my part to ensure that – as Mitch McConnell said of his predecessor – he is no more than a one-term president.


1 comment

  1. I always enjoy your perspectives, thanks for sharing.

    This time, I would disagree with your reasoning, although I respect your right to sit.

    2 thoughts.

    Sitting disrespects the 320 million US residents and their ancestors. Sports attendees standing next to you will neither understand nor appreciate your failure to display a modicum of respect (see public response to Kapernick).

    Your issue is with the office-holder, not the institution, the citizens/residents, or ideals of the nation-state. Who would know this? Kapernick had numerous opportunities to make clear his focus (policing), yet this did not get heard. Even while almost all Americans would agree with his policing concerns (in varyying degrees). However, in terms of Trump, roughly 40% still support any given policy and the man himself. Not so clear-cut. Nor have you Kapernick’s soapbox. Your message (Trump) is blurred in the noise of your protest.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have a better suggestion.

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