Last weekend I did something I haven't done in a long time. Something I swore I'd never do again. Something I'm deeply ashamed of.
I stood during the singing of the national anthem.
To be fair, I was kind of tricked into it. My brother was graduating college mid-year, and we stood as the graduates entered the hall. I thought we were still standing for the invocation, which was first on the program. By the time I heard the sacchirine choral strains of "Oh say can you see..." it was too late. I couldn't bring myself to sit down and draw attention to myself when the attention belonged on the graduates.
In most situations, I just never stand up. And by most situations, I mean baseball games, because a person who doesn't stand during the singing of the national anthem is a person who rarely attends events where it is played.
I first refused to pledge to the flag during the first Gulf War. In my seventh-grade heart I felt no allegience to the flag of the United States of America, nor to the republic for which it stands, because I did not believe it had ever provided liberty and justice for all. The last thirteen years have provided very little evidence to encourage me that the American flag is one I should stand for, as it increasingly becomes one the world needs to stand up to.
Some say that America has been hijacked by the current administration, that its actions defy the spirit and the law of what is truly American. That may be true, but when a bomb falls on a family in Iraq, the United States flag is on it. When a human being is publicly executed in a prison, the United States flag flies proudly outside it. And when a human being is secretly tortured in a prison, the United States flag flies outside it, too.
I won't stand for the American flag because I won't stand for what is done in its name. I won't stand for the current war in Iraq, I won't stand for the last war in Iraq. I won't stand for all the wars before that. I won't stand for its selectively faulty elecotral process and I won't stand for its unelected, renegade government. I won't stand for its medieval attitude towards sexuality and privacy, for its violent misinterpretation of Christianity, for its refusal to deal sanely with AIDS and all other global health crises, for its environmentally suicidal stance on climate change, for the hypocrisy of its practices, for the torture of its prisoners, for its executions and its drug wars and its oil wars. I won't stand for any of these things, and I won't stand for the United States of America, or its flag or its anthem, until they change.