In response to the controversy generated by Colin Kaepernick sitting down during the playing of the national anthem prior to San Francisco 49er football games, singer-songwriter and award-winning producer Joe Henry posted the following on Facebook:
Back when my children were still in elementary school, I sometimes drew looks when, at each holiday pageant, I would stand for the pledge of allegiance but always with my hands held behind my back –never across my heart; for in truth –and though I deeply love my country— my allegiance is not first to a nation but to the human family.
So it ever shall be; for I can cherish my country while refusing nationalism, and do.
Such personal choice of expression –as would one to the contrary— falls within my ownership and ultimate authority; and any who might deem otherwise hasn’t understood the concept or its fierce intention.
I come by my citizenship honestly, and by the happy accident of my birth; and thus require no one’s permission to have the relationship with America that I authentically both enjoy and wrestle; refuse the invitation that I leave if I cannot, in fact, love it to the prescribed satisfactions of another. My “marriage” to my culture and nation of origin, then, is as mine to my beloved: private, complex, and –with all due respect— wholly resistant to your concern and druthers.
Likewise, Colin Kaepernick will express his national alignments and the lack thereof as his heart, experiences, and the brutal histories of his peers and elders direct. And those throwing flags suggesting otherwise should go back to saluting their own if so moved –wherever it happens to fly.
Silent and seated observance is neither disrespectful nor unpatriotic; but any insistence that it might be most definitely is.