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Forced Patriotism: Unlawful and Un-American

Corey Friedman on

Following high-profile national anthem protests, lawmakers passed a local ordinance requiring citizens to "stand solemnly and deport themselves with dignity" while the anthem is played.

Before conservatives cheer this development too loudly, they should know the law was enacted last year in Hong Kong and refers to "March of the Volunteers," the anthem extolling communism in the People's Republic of China.

More than 8,000 miles away, Republican legislators in Tennessee and Texas have similar designs on forced patriotism.

While Hong Kong soccer fans booing the Chinese national anthem prompted the law in China's semi-autonomous region, our domestic discord stems from athletes kneeling to protest racial injustice while "The Star-Spangled Banner" is played.

Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and 26 state senators signed a Feb. 22 letter urging chancellors at the state's public universities to forbid student-athletes from kneeling during the anthem. The letter was drafted a week after the men's basketball team at East Tennessee State University took a knee.

"To address the issues, we encourage each of you to adopt policies within your respective athletic departments to prohibit any such actions moving forward," Senate Republicans wrote.

 

In Texas, Senate Bill 4 would bar local governments from signing deals with professional sports teams that involve taxpayer money unless teams agree to play the national anthem before each home game. Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has applauded the bill.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's decision to stop playing the anthem before games prompted that measure. The Mavs' experiment ended abruptly last month when NBA officials said the league would require all 30 of its teams to include the anthem in pregame ceremonies.

Controversy continues to swirl as the silent protest former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started in August 2016 spreads throughout the pro, collegiate and scholastic sports ranks. Kaepernick initially sat on the bench while teammates stood for the national anthem, but after meeting with Nate Boyer, a former Seattle Seahawks player and Green Beret, he began kneeling to show respect for veterans and fallen troops.

Kneeling is a more reverent gesture than standing -- service members kneel at military gravesites, and penitents kneel in church to humble themselves before God -- but many conservatives still take umbrage at the protest posture.

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