By Staff Writer Jackson Valentine
If this title doesn’t mean anything to you, I would highly recommend checking out the SNL skit “Black Jeopardy”. Very funny and well worth 7 minutes of your time. More importantly, however, this is going to be about the fact that all of a sudden it’s a controversial thing to stand or sing our national anthem. Perhaps as a music performance major as well as a former marching band member, I could present a unique perspective.
It has long been a tradition in our country for school marching bands to incorporate the playing of the national anthem into its pregame performance. Recently, this part of the performance will elicit nervousness, people looking around wondering, “what’s going to happen this time?” “Who’s going to take a knee?” “I hope no one feels offended”. It is a shame that the song written to commemorate the bravery of our nation has created tension you could cut with a knife, but more importantly, a dangerous precedent is being set by allowing band members to “protest” the national anthem by refusing to play and not standing while on the field. If it is acceptable for band members to exercise their first amendment right (and indeed it is their right) by disrupting a performance, the slope that the organization begins to slide down becomes very slippery.
A perfect example of this comes from our colleagues down the road in Greenville, North Carolina. About 20 band members decided ahead of time to take a knee during their performance of the anthem, and some of those that did not agree chose to carry American flags out to the field with them to protest the protest, so to speak. What if someone decides to protest the protest of the protest and refuse to even come onto the field to play at all? I imagine that if that were to happen, there would be people protesting that protest. You can probably see where I am going with this…
One of the focal points of marching band is to look the same, sound the same, and march the same, so as to not attract attention to any one individual with the goal being a polished product from the band as a whole. When I was a section leader in high school, I can’t tell you how many times I heard something like “who cares if you can play your part perfectly? If one person in your section can’t, then it doesn’t matter.” I believe that’s true whether you’re working on marching in practice, or standing on the field playing the national anthem. You come together to make music and blend into something that is bigger than yourself and it is most certainly not the place to air out your political laundry for the whole world to see. Maybe if I were still in the Marching Tarheels, I would take a knee for the school alma mater because I disagree with their lack of academic diversity in the faculty. I wonder if everyone would stand up and applaud my bravery and solidarity then?
I wont have as much to say on this one, because I’m not really an athlete and haven’t played competitive team sports in quite some time, but I would like to point out that the man who started it all, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, definitely has something going on other than simply showing opposition to police brutality in America. Kaepernick was seen in a post game interview earlier this season sporting a New Black Panther Party t-shirt, and in practice he was seen wearing socks depicting police officers as pigs. These things point to a larger problem in that it seems Kaepernick is actually very racist. If you wear the shirt of an organization that believes in committing violence against a particular race, it’s kind of hard to PR your way out it. Imagine if Tom Brady rolled up to his post game interview wearing a KKK t-shirt. It would more than likely be the end of his football career, and possibly the end of his professional life. The double standard here seems obvious, but double standards are something the media is quite familiar with.
Also, I believe that it is important to note the same principles of unity and comradery that come with being in a marching band also apply to being on a sports team. When you have some team members coming out for the anthem and others staying in the locker room (Millikin University), it shows disunity among the team which I’m sure carries over into performance. Again, not the time or place to air out your political laundry.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, all of these people definitely have the right under our constitution’s first amendment to do basically whatever they want without being arrested, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone else. Organizations also reserve the right to boot people based on insubordination or any other number of factors that they deem fit. The worst part about this whole thing is that the left says not only is it their right, but they should be able to kneel for the national anthem or do a host of other things without repercussions because it is “free speech”. It’s funny how free speech has suddenly become extremely important to a party that has a long-standing tradition of free speech suppression, which is predominantly on display in our nation’s colleges and universities. Whether it is boxing in open dialogue into “free speech zones” (which we do have here at UNC) or denying protest permits to groups they disagree with. Well UNC snowflakes, you certainly didn’t care about free speech when you tried to ban the Center for Bio-ethical Reform, the Alamance County Sons of the Confederacy, Ben Shapiro, or David Horowitz from our campus because it was “unsafe for students”. Hey Campus Y, where was my safe space when the band members took a knee? Why wasn’t I given a trigger warning beforehand? Oh yeah, because these things fit your agenda and Shapiro doesn’t. There’s that double standard again…