I came across a video yesterday perfectly showing the psychosis currently plaguing the United States right now. During a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, in what appears to be a high school, a kid sits at his desk. Another kid then takes it upon himself to show the sitting kid what America is all about by kicking the chair out from under him.
It’s a spectacle of violence that, unfortunately, some acquaintances of mine celebrated. It’s “patriotism” run amok, indicative of what it means to have an opinion on something in Donald Trump’s America.
I’ve written about my thoughts on the Pledge of Allegiance before, so I’m not going to dive too much into it right now. But despite the differences of opinion these two boys obviously have, at the end of the day, the kid in the chair was on the receiving end of politically-motivated violence. That, by definition, makes the kid who kicked his chair a terrorist.
But let’s not harp on that. Let’s instead focus on what’s really going on here.
To exist in the United States these days, and have an opinion on just about anything, is to walk around with a target on your back. It’s not even just politics that puts someone in the crosshairs. It’s even innocuous crap like sports and entertainment. We judge each other harshly, without even so much as a thought about how moronic we look doing it. We say dumb shit for the purpose of pointing out things we believe to be dumb shit and when someone calls us out for saying dumb shit, we get defensive and only succeed in making ourselves look like a dumbshit.
This is at it worst when it comes to topics having to do with patriotism.
It’s totally fine if someone believes that a refusal to stand for the National Anthem or say the Pledge of Allegiance is unpatriotic or deserving of ire. It’s a completely different thing to support an act of violence in the pursuit of your patriotism. In searching YouTube for the video above, other titles that popped up included:
INSTANT JUSTICE! AFTER THIS EMO SNOWFLAKE DECIDED TO DISRESPECT AMERICA HE INSTANTLY REGRETTED IT (posted by The Next News Network)
Student won’t stand for Pledge of Allegiance. Patriotic student isn’t having it (posted by 50 State Report)
Each of these titles celebrates an act of violence. This celebration is unfortunately the new normal, the perfect diction to entice people like the acquaintances I referenced above into not only supporting the reason for the violence, but the violence itself.
Speaking as someone who hasn’t said the Pledge of Allegiance in over 15 years, by choice, I do not believe it is obscene to the sanctity of the American identity to refuse to say it. Similarly, I do not believe that is obscene to the sanctity of the American identity to kneel in protest to the National Anthem. When you strip away the context for why the National Anthem protests are happening in the first place, like way too many people already do, all that’s left is the obvious: we’re fighting vehemently over whether or not someone stands in the audience of a piece of cloth already subjected to our daily disrespect. It’s an asinine thing to fight about. Yet, here we are, fighting about it to such an extent that it has prompted that bloated tangerine-hued sack of discharge leaking all over the Oval Office to demand pro sports team owners discipline their players if they participate.
It’s times like these when all I can do is sigh and say the following about this country I genuinely love being a part of: fuck us.