A while back, I implied that Colin Kaepernick's refusing to stand for the National Anthem may have been in part a strategy to avoid being cut from the 49ers.
I apologize. Even if that were true -- and it was pure speculation on my part -- he has done everyone in this country a favor. Until a month ago, there was no ceremony much more empty than the pro forma singing of the National Anthem at sporting events. As I wrote before,
I am not a big fan of enforced loyalty oaths and patriotic rituals, finding these to historically be markers of unfree societies. For these sorts of rituals to have any meaning at all, they have to be voluntary, which means that Kaepernick has every right to not participate, and everyone else has every right to criticize him for doing so, and I have the right to ignore it all as tedious virtue-signalling.
In the past, people stood for the national anthem because that is what you do. Mindlessly. It was, for many, a brief ritual before you got to the good stuff. It was singing happy birthday before you got the cake. (I am speaking for the majority of us, I know there are folks who have always approached the anthem as a deep and solemn rite).
But this weekend, suddenly, and perhaps for the first time at a ball game, everybody who stood up for the National Anthem at an NFL game likely thought about it for a second. They were not standing just because that was what everyone else was doing, they were standing (or sitting) to make some sort of statement, and what exactly that statement was took a bit of thought. Standing for a ceremony that has 100% dutiful participation means zero. Standing for a ceremony with even a small number of folks who refuse has a lot more meaning.
So thanks, Colin.