Forcing Athletes to Stand During the National Anthem is Fascist

Forcing Athletes to Stand During the National Anthem is Fascist

The new NFL policy raises a red flag for this country's direction.
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In 2016, American football quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem before the start of the games. He later described his actions as an act of protest against racial injustice in the United States. His protest had been met by praise as well as anger by activist and NFL fans alike. Many of the fans demanded Kaepernick be suspended and even jailed for not standing for the national anthem. The President of the United States, Donald Trump even tweeted “Get that son of a b**** off the field now. Out! He’s fired!”

Despite the outrage, the NFL allowed Kaepernick to continue playing, however he wasn’t drafted for the 2017 and again for 2018 despite his talent. Kaepernick wasn’t the only professional football player to kneel during the national anthem, Kaepernick also kneeled with teammate Eric Reid and later in the 2016 NFL preseason, Seattle Seahawks player Jeremy Lane also did not stand for the national anthem. In the regular season, other athletes including Denver Broncos player Brandon Marshall, as well as Jelani Jenkins, Arian Foster, Kenny Stills and Michael Thomas of the Miami Dolphins. More people protested in the 2017 season as well including twenty-seven members of the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars during their game at Wembley Stadium in London. Protest continued throughout the season with players from various teams choosing to kneel, stay in the lockers or interlock arms during the national anthem. However, it was announced this year that the NFL created a policy banning players for displaying any form of protest during the national anthem. According to the policy, if an NFL athlete is protesting on the field during the national anthem at anytime, they will be subject to discipline from the league. Furthermore, the entire team will also be subject to discipline form the league following the incident. Discipline can include fines and even suspension.

In the past, the NFL didn’t require that the athletes stand for the national anthem, stating in the guidelines that they “should”stand for the anthem. Making this policy change removes the choice. Many who believe that this policy change is fair believe that standing for the flag and the anthem is a way to show patriotism for the country as well as people who have fought to protect this country. For me, this is similar to a school forcing children to stand during the pledge of allegiance, threatening kids detention or suspension if they don’t comply even if they don’t necessarily agree with what the pledge stands for. The issue with forcing people to be patriotic is that they aren’t given the choice to be proud of their country.

I feel a lot of people can agree that America as a country has major problems. It’s not perfect. And as a citizens, we shouldn’t be required to support that if we think it’s wrong. That’s why we protest. That’s why we speak out. There are countries past and present that don’t allow their citizens to speak out if there is something wrong. There are people who might feel that protesting is unpatriotic, but really it’s admitting that there are things that need to be fixed in this country and that it’s okay to admit that and start the conversation. Believing that you should support the country no matter what isn’t patriotism, it’s nationalism. And forcing people to be a twisted version of patriotic is definitely on a road to fascism.

Thankfully, as a citizen, I do have a choice whether or not I want to stand during the national anthem or whether or not I want to speak out against this country or whether or not I can write this article about this issue. But seeing franchises like NFL supporting policies like this that are supported by our very own president, it raises a giant red flag.

If you want to consider yourself, patriotic, go ahead, but understand what that actually means. It doesn’t mean supporting the country no matter what. It means supporting the good things about your country and not the bad. And forcing people to support your country is what fascists do. It’s what dictators do. We are supposed to be the land of the free and a sport that advertises itself as iconically American forcing it’s athletes to stand “in respect” for a song and a flag is not free.

Cover Image Credit: pexels

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Minority Representation Was Never Just About Historical Accuracy

Gemma Chan's casting in "Mary Queen of Scots" has far more reach and impact beyond the issue of historical accuracy.

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The past year has been regarded as a revolutionary time for Asian representation, and it seems to begin with what came to be known as "Asian August" in 2018. The momentum from "Asian August" has carried through into 2019. A recently prominent figure in Asian representation is Gemma Chan, who starred in "Crazy Rich Asians" and "Captain Marvel." Her role as Bess of Hardwick in "Mary Queen of Scots," however, drew some criticism from viewers, who questioned the casting of an Asian woman as a white historical figure. Chan has since responded to this criticism in her Allure cover story.

Chan stated in Allure, "Why are actors of color, who have fewer opportunities anyway, only allowed to play their own race? And sometimes they're not even allowed to play their own race." To this, she added, "If John Wayne can play Genghis Khan, I can play Bess of Hardwick." She makes an important point about representation here: many roles of historical figures of color have been played by white actors. Actors of color have very few opportunities, and in many cases, are even denied roles of historical figures of their race.

It's true that a major argument for better representation has been accuracy to the source material, but the actual issue of representation is not about historical accuracy. The push for better representation is a push to see more actors of color onscreen and to open up more opportunities for actors of color, especially when white actors are placed in roles of historical figures of color. Gemma Chan brings up John Wayne, who was in yellowface for his role of Genghis Khan.

The barring of actors of color, who already have fewer opportunities, from the roles of these historical figures is the true problem, not a lack of accuracy to the source material. There is a backlash when a white actor plays the role of a person of color because actors of color already have very limited opportunities.

Gemma Chan further states that "art should reflect life now" and that "If we portray a pure white past, people start to believe that's how it was, and that's not how it was." Her role in "Mary Queen of Scots" aids in fighting the whitewashing of history and of film and television as a whole. She also comments on her compound racial identity, stating that she feels both Asian and British. This is especially important to members of the Asian diaspora who are stereotyped as "perpetual foreigners."

Gemma Chan's role in a period film solidifies her British identity, helping to break down the "perpetual foreigner" stereotype and assert that her being Asian does not take away from her being British. For members of the Asian diaspora, it is important to see an Asian actress in a role where she can embrace the duality of her identity rather than having to be exclusively Chinese or British. Gemma Chan's casting in "Mary Queen of Scots" has far more reach and impact beyond the issue of historical accuracy. Seeing an Asian actor in a European or American period film is very rare, and Chan's role should be celebrated for its importance to Asian representation rather than criticized for not being historically accurate.

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Irish-American History Is Just As Important As Any Other Culture, You Can't Prove Me Wrong

I cherish being Irish and I will not let anyone let me feel bad for that.

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Depending on when you're reading this, Saint Patrick's day has either just passed or is around the corner. For me, Saint Patrick's day is tomorrow. I've been debating this article for some time now because I didn't know how it would be perceived. At this point, though, I feel it's important for me to get out. No, Irish people were never kept as slaves in America, and I will never be one to try and say they were. However, Irish people were treated tremendously awful in America. A lot of people tend to forget, or just try to erase entirely, the history of the Irish in America. So much so that I felt shameful for wanting to celebrate my heritage. Therefore, I want to bring to light the history that everyone brushes under the rug.

In 1845, a potato famine broke out across Ireland. This was a big deal because the Irish lived off, mainly, potatoes. They were cheap, easy to grow, and had tons of nutrients. So when the famine struck, many people either died of starvation or fled to America in seek of refuge. When the Irish arrived in America they were seen as a threat to the decency of America. People viewed them as drunk beasts, sinful savages, barbaric, violent, belligerent, stupid, and white apes. When the Irish would go to look for jobs, many times they found signs that read "Irish Need Not Apply," even when the job was hiring. Therefore, the Irish did the jobs no one wanted, and even jobs African slaves wouldn't do. The biggest example of this is when Irishmen built canals and drained swamps. They were sent to do these things because of the enormous amount of mosquitoes; in the swamp, they would get bit and ultimately die of malaria.

Also, during this time, Irish people were poor and therefore lived in the same neighborhoods as the free African Americans. A lot of the Irish people were friendly with their neighbors of color and even got into interracial relationships. Because the Irish lived in these neighborhoods they were seen as dirty and even a lot of people at this time put African Americans higher on the totem pole than Irish. One person during the time even said, "At least the black families keep their homes clean."

The main reason American's outlook on Irish people changed was that most Irishmen took up fighting for the Union in the Civil War. I make this argument, not because I think the Irish suffered more than African slaves. I don't say this in means of trying to erase the struggles of the African slaves. I do not think that any of our ancestors should have been treated the way they were. I mean to say that the Irish did in fact suffer. Irish people were treated wrongly on the basis of...nothing. Simply because my ancestors hailed from the shores of Eire, they were treated with malice. And I write this simply because I want people to remember. I want people to understand what happened.

On Saint Patrick's Day this year, next year, and for the many years to come, I want people to embrace the Irish culture. I want the folks of Irish heritage to not be ashamed of where they come from; to not be ashamed to share their culture the way I have for many years. I want everyone to have a beer, wear some green, eat a potato or two, and dance the Irish step; to celebrate the history of Irish people with a bit more understanding than before.

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