THE AMERICAN CIRCUS: Patriot Games

I’ve said from the beginning of this recent controversy morphed into conflagration regarding NFL players kneeling, sitting, not appearing, raising their fists, and performing other shows of vague defiance (or disrespect, as the case may be) during pregame performance of the National Anthem and presentation of the American Flag, that it is, in reality, a false issue—false on the one hand in that the vast majority of the NFL players when asked about it haven’t even the ability to express a coherent thought about what their so-called protest means, or why they’re doing it, and what they hope to achieve; and false on the other hand by the endless parade of shameless pundits and politicians who preen and gather on the so-called pro-flag/national anthem side of things and sanctimoniously lecture upon the virtues and absolute necessity of patriotism and the sanctity of the American flag.

Meanwhile, the rest of us, the “forgotten Americans” are left to watch the spectacle and take sides as our individual preferences, emotions, and experiences dictate.

Now, weeks into this continuing false controversy, it is nearly forgotten that the original controversy began last year when then-Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (presently unemployed) began his protest and President Trump reignited the issue this year with (what else?) intentional and planned comments (not off-the-cuff, as some have suggested) to cause a diversionary disturbance which would live beyond many consecutive news cycles to which he could rally upon the always most popular side of the American flag and all things American — and this is exactly what happened. Indeed, the NFL flag/anthem controversy has lasted several weeks so far and may well run all season — all to President Trump’s political benefit — particularly against the backdrop of a fully Republican Congress that refuses to move on key aspects of Trump’s agenda, and a strange assortment of high-profile Democrat Congressional leaders whose antics resemble some of the best characters out of the old Looney Tunes cartoons.

Meanwhile, the rest of us take our various sides of this false issue, and continue to go about our regular lives which, to great extent, are completely antithetical to American patriotism and all things that the American flag and National Anthem are supposed to be about.

For instance — the vast majority of us continue to shop and demand the lowest prices for everything — from food, electronics, clothing and shoes, to household appliances, furniture, building materials and tools, automobiles, and everything else we buy — 98 percent of which are produced in places other than the United States by labor compensated at rates which are the merest fraction of the current average U.S. minimum wage, and that labor often consists of children and other human beings who produce in surroundings and circumstances comparable (if not worse) than a sweatshop right out of a Charles Dickens novel.

Yet we so-called patriotic Americans keep demanding it and paying for it — even while knowing that most of the products are junk and at least qualitatively inferior to the same products we used to purchase not so long ago — and also accepting the wasteful insanity of the present regime of corporate strategy for maximizing profits, which is planned product obsolescence.

We, the American people, would die of sticker shock if we had to pay a fair price for quality products produced in the United States — indeed, our standard of living would be adjusted. It would be quite a Wow for most of us to operate as a consumer in the kind of American nation we used to be where most of our products were produced by our fellow American citizens and we paid a fair and reasonable compensation for them. Of course, on the other side of that equation, that reality simultaneously existed with a commitment to quality — not planned obsolescence.

My point is simply that most of us openly disrespect the old notions of flag, anthem, and patriotism every single day of our lives. And so while some of us will take the bait and take a side in the current false controversy (shall we call this one a truly “false flag” controversy?) it means absolutely nothing because we now live our lives in a manner that essentially cannibalizes all the traditional notions of what American values (and their emblems and songs) used to mean in the furtherance of maximizing profits for the privileged few at the expense of the vast majority of American society.

We’ve become so cheap that we can’t even agree to expend money to put Americans to work repairing, rebuilding, and improving our vast national infrastructure.  Instead, we categorize it as ‘deferred maintenance.’

So… let us decline to purchase a growler of that local-made really good beer down the street (because it’s too expensive) and instead buy a six-pack of whatever cheap AB InBev swill and sit back and tune-in today’s NFL game and give those nasty, disrespectful, kneeling, predominantly incoherent, goofy-haired, goofy-tatoo’d, America-haters some hell! Or, if we find ourselves too full of false patriotic ardor and outrage to watch the NFL, then we may tune-in instead to one of the house-flipping/renovation shows — despite them also being a direct affront to all former notions and understanding of American values not so many years ago.

We seem to be living in an epic tragicomedy of unknown duration. I don’t think even Shakespeare could have written a play to encompass the present state of affairs of American culture — as the ironies, tragedies, and comedies of it are so profound, interconnected, and deeply ingrained.

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John Corderman

John Corderman is a writer living in Phoenix, Arizona — with extensive experience in retail management, commercial construction, and financial brokerage services. He composes regular comments about American politics and culture.