The Uses of Patriotism

High school football players, let me try to persuade you why pulling a Kaepernick is counterproductive.

Comments: 202

  1. David, according to my personal theory of pride, developed over a very long lifetime, one can only take pride in one's own accomplishments. According to this theory, to express pride in the country one was born in, entirely an act of chance, is meaningless.

    In my theory one can be thankful to have been born in a particular country just as I am thankful to have been born in a United States that perhaps no longer exists.

    It follows that I do not see anything wrong with kneeling when the national anthem is played. There is an irony in the photograph, and that is that the kneeling players create an almost religious atmosphere of respect, probably because in some religions people either kneel or prostrate themselves.

    For that matter why David do you think we should play the national anthem at all in such settings?

    Only-NeverInSweden.blogspot.com
    Dual citizen US SE

  2. Larry, very interesting viewpoint. Defining pride is, of course subjective. It appears from your blog that you take pride in many things that you yourself have not accomplished - and iroically you note your dual citizenship in your comment here. But already we have missed the point of Mr. Brooks' piece - by chance or not, we live in a country founded on the ideals Mr. Brooks feels are important enough to preserve through shared gestures. Simply by paying taxes, in my opinion, we are contributing to this continued support of those ideals, in other words, it is an accomplishment of mine. And, I believe that many feel that way. Your theory is fine, but I don't see you living it. Let people be proud for their own reasons, let Mr. Brooks make his point which is well intentioned, designed to support the ideals that have supported you - by chance even.

  3. Something to think about

  4. I too found it to look profoundly respectful. Ironic and somewhat humorous!

  5. As a school man with 45 years of service to young adults, I see these demonstrations as a civics learning opportunity. As guaranteed by the Bill of RIghts, young athletes are physically demonstrating, in a harmless and respectful way, as if in prayer, their solidarity with those who have witnessed and are angry and want to express their sadness and outrage with the grotesque lack of equity and justice that they all too frequently see on video recordings of young people being gunned down by police. Rather this quiet and dignified protest at a high school interscholastic athletic gathering than the dangerous riots and violent insurrections that regularly occurred in our public high schools that I witnessed during the late 1960's. I trust that the young people's coaches will take the opportunity to contextualize the students' quiet and dignified protest in the locker room, and students in classes will also have an opportunity to discuss their feelings and affirm and validate the ideals of our Constitution as expressed by these young athletes.

  6. You comment is better written than Mr. Brooks' column. Typical of him it is based on his assumptions of what the world is like. Thank you for all of your points.

  7. Great point. In Germany, one of my Civics teachers used quotes from famous people to teach us about patriotism. This one by Albert Einstein I thought was very powerful, especially given the context of Germany:

    “He who joyfully marches to music rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”

    I hope you are right and teachers all across this great country (yes, it is great, but so are many others) will take this opportunity to educate today's youth about the perils of unreflected patriotism.

  8. "Typical of him it [Brooks' column] is based on his assumptions of what the world is like."

    Are not most of our opinions based on our "assumptions of what the world is like"? This *is* an Opinion column, you know..

  9. Hi David,
    Perhaps you 're not familiar with the second half of the third verse:

    "No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave, And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."

    Somehow I don't get a sense that "we're all in this together" from an anthem that damns the slave to the "gloom of the grave" while exulting in "the land of the free" for the rest of the people.

    The most recent Guccifer 2.0 docs, even if the grand old dame never prints them, show an excel spread sheet of how we are all NOT in this together. It shows the amount contributed to the DNC and corresponding job awarded. Head of the FCC at over 3 million is pricier than Head of Homeland Security but all achieve "greatness" through bribery.

    I applaud these young players for bringing attention to the ways so many people continue to be treated as commodities in our society. If you read the TISA preparation papers, that is the word used to describe workers.

  10. You are right, but you leave out that the Republicans have always done the same. Look who gets appointed ambassadors to favorite countries. Big donors. The hackers are doing their best to get Trump elected by their selective hacks and releases.

  11. The American crisis is not "a crisis of solidarity" and it is utter sophistry to say that American "universal nationalism" is OK and Trump's "ethnic nationalism" isn't. All of that All-American-style flag-waving military-loving mindless my-country-right-or-wrong patriotism is poison and enables all the crimes the US commits worldwide. This country is the scourge of the earth, invading and laying waste other countries without the slightest provocation. The only thing President Obama does that the Republicans don't complain about is kill whomever he pleases with drones. The military is so sacrosanct here that no national politician dares say "troops" without saying "heroes" in the same sentence. Only 52% are extremely proud to be Americans? Really? Proud of all that murder? Proud of all that racism? Proud of all the ignorance, stupidity and bigotry that makes a fool like Trump a serious candidate? Good for you, Colin Kaepernick, you're a stand-up guy.

  12. Our pride has been tarnished by Bush failing to prevent 9/11, failing to defeat the Taliban and capture Bin Laden, lying about and the destroying Iraq and the lives of million Iraqis, torturing prisoners, kidnapping and handing prisoners over to torturers, failing to regulate financial markets, failing to protect the environment from the fracking oil industry. Our pride has been diminished by the inequality Republicans promote by lowering taxes on the rich and by corporations hiding profits to escape paying taxes.
    Our pride has been smeared by Donald Trump, the most shameful demagogue to ascend to leadership of the GOP. Trump defeated his Republican opponents because he is MORE Republican than they are. Racist, "America First" antisemitism, "drug selling, rapist"xenophobia", "bleeding from wherever" misogyny, universal Muslim religious bigotry, and "Second Amendment rights" threats of violence are not original Trump ideas. They are Republican. Americans are beginning to understand that when Republicans say "the American people" they mean the very wealthy only" Americans are learning that a vote for any Republican is a vote against their own best interests.

  13. @PoloniusMonk

    And yet...

  14. What about the Americans, the first Americans, not the hyphenated Americans? Perhaps this overheated patriotism is the result of having to take by force what others had owned first. You always seem to conveniently forget that history is a convoluted subject, mostly remembered by those that survive as the story told by the victors, and the story of the vanquished is forgotten.

  15. This history lesson doesn’t detract from the fact that ours remains a deeply racist society – it’s not as murderously racist by a ton as it was in times past, and, fairly, it’s not as racist in effect by a ton as it was before 1865 or before 1964; but it remains racist in effect.

    There’s a lot of truth in what David asserts about our weakening national solidarity, the loss of reverence for an aspirational American psyche rooted in history, and about the dangers to our continued ability to provide a beacon to the world that’s just as real as our racism.

    But I don’t have a problem with kids kneeling to protest the reality of persistent racism, and to keep nudging us all to a more inclusive America.

  16. @Richard Luettgen - New Jersey - Richard, funny thing, today we agree, on everything. The phrasing a "deeply racist society" is much better than what we often see "Country is a racist country" since it is the people that display racism.

    Larry an American as well as Swedish citizen, something you missed the other day!

  17. Larr:

    Being a citizen of the world is an aspiration that's probably more achievable in the 22nd Century than the 21st. I might wish that I'd been born later, except that I'd probably have to train myself to smile at everyone else, and my face might crack at the effort.

  18. It bears noting as well that these kids are kneeling. They are not remaining seated, they are not twiddling their thumbs or playing Pokemon Go. They are civilly and respectfully expressing themselves. Would that Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton take note. Would that we would all take note.

  19. Despite Mr. Brook's attempt to provide a solid philosophical argument this column simply smacks as another hot take on how minorities should protest "the correct way".

  20. Mr. Brooks, I've been a serial critic of yours for some time, as some few commenters in this forum may have noticed. I have, in the main, attempted to do so with courtesy and civility. This column of yours today invites rudeness but I will not descend to your level of insult and intellectual dishonesty. A few facts may enlighten you.

    The settlers of this country were conflicted, writhing between God and the devil? Are you serious? They were thieves, Mr. Brooks, thieves. They usurped the cultures and histories of the First Americans, raping first their land and then their dignity and nobility, all because of the sophisticated technological arsenals ready to their hand. Their numbers were swollen by "immigrants" (this word has explosive contemporary political reference, does it not?) who "settled" lands to which they had no title and appropriated by government decree. In short, Mr. Brooks, America was midwifed by unholy liars and thieves, all the while employing a creed foreign to the First Americans as the moral and legal justification for the plunder writ large.

    And so today America is taught that it was constructed out of a rough-hewn work ethic, blessed by Providence (Manifest Destiny), become the world's beacon of light. Young people, as does Colin Kaepernick, know the truth and are angry that their pledges of allegiance ring both hollow and untrue?

    And you're surprised?

  21. That was bad to the bone. Thx.

  22. David Brooks need not worry. When these high school kids go to college they'll head for straight the comfort of their safety spaces where they will be shielded from ideas contrary to their own. They've already been taught in revisionist American history class that when Europeans first settled this continent their goals were to slaughter the Native American tribes and pillage this unfamiliar continent because they were motivated by greed. There was land ripe for the taking not to mention seizing amazing riches like gold and furs. Many states are replacing Columbus Day with Native American Day because Columbus was an evil white European racist who was simply lost on his way to conquer India. Clear so far??

    There will be a test on Friday.

  23. @Sharon5101,

    Are you denying that Eurpopeans DID end up slaughtering the Native American tribes and pillaged the "New World", as it was called? Perhaps the slaughter of the Native Americans was not the specific stated goal or intention of most of the European settlers originally, but it's what happened.

    It's uncomfortable to admit when one's ancestors or even direct family did bad things. But burying one's head in the sand or accusing those who fight the mainstream narrative as "revisionist" won't change the facts of what happened.

  24. In short, we have to fake it to we make it huh? Act like we are unified until some how we will become unified? Instead of telling my kids to be more patriotic why not tell other folks kids to be more tolerant of peaceful protest?

  25. "We will lose the sense that we are all in this together."

    I see the quandary here: How does one convince someone who has been pulled repeatedly for "driving while black" that they and Mr. Brooks are "in this together"?

  26. Mr. Brooks, I contend that the young people of today see very clearly that your vision of "moral" founding fathers was far from the reality on the ground. When you wrote:
    "By 1776, this fusion of radical hope and radical self-criticism had become the country’s civic religion. This civic religion was based on a moral premise — that all men are created equal — and pointed toward a vision of a promised land — a place where your family or country of origin would have no bearing on your opportunities," did you forget that the lifestyle that allowed many of those founding fathers to study the great works of philosophy and participate in civic functions was made possible by black slaves? People who had no choice in coming to the United States because they were kidnapped and dragged here in chains? That they had no chance to enjoy the "moral" pronouncements that "all men are created equal" because they were being bought, sold, and used like animals? I think our young people have very clearly heard the platitudes and have seen the reality of our history, and take note of yawning gap between the two. They question the basic principles of our nation because they see the difference between "The Star- Spangled Banner," and how those in power treat those without power. Their expression of protest, small and completely legal as it might be, is one of the few ways they can ask those in charge to take notice of their fears and do something about it.

  27. Here is how those in power treat everyone else:

    https://goo.gl/ySxk4m

    you have to click on the graph and scroll down to the very bottom to find the United States

  28. Concentrated wealth impels identity politics.

    Your GOP has only one prime directive: the ever greater concentration of wealth & power. They do this by 3 ways: 1-attacking the agency of other groups bargaining power (Unions/Workers, ACORN/poor, Quality&Affordable Education/Middle Class); 2-Getting people to vote against their interest regarding their bargaining power and; 3-Fortifying the agency of the rich/powerful, i.e. Corporation (see TPP).

    The GOP has been immensely successful:
    https://goo.gl/ySxk4m

    (Our) Anglo-Saxon civics works best when people vote their own self interest.

    If you're worried about social cohesion picking on groups that choose to protest is "counterproductive". The source of our rapidly withering social cohesion is our rapidly withering social contract.

    Sitting out the national anthem, raising a fist, that's exercising ones bargaining power to influence and affect change.

    Mr. Brooks, your plea to stop this is just another GOP gambit to try to convince the afflicted to surrender their bargaining power to the rich.

    Here's how it works: sit on your helmet during the national anthem today; raise your fist during the national anthem tomorrow, march against the wealthy and powerful with pitch forks in hand and guillotines in tow tomorrow.

    Mr. Brooks you should consider that you & your ilk have been forewarned and served notice by these mild & gentle acts of protest today. It is to them you should be addressing. Things won't be so nice tomorrow.

  29. Now if you could explain to the young men who take a knee rather than stand up and sing the national anthem how, exactly, putting your hand over your heart and standing will fix the roads, bring jobs back to the inner cities, change the mind of the policeman about to fire, make education, healthcare, housing affordable and make the justice system such that a young black kid who shoplifts a candy bar and gets 3 years in Rikers while a white banking executive gets a big, fat bonus for money laundering billions then maybe you can persuade them that it has any real meaning and not as Samual Johnson tells us "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"

  30. Talk about entirely missing the point of Brooks' column.

  31. "then maybe you can persuade them that it has any real meaning and not as Samual Johnson tells us 'Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel'"

    And this seems as good an opportunity as any to cite Ambrose Bierce's brilliant comment in his _The Devil's Dictionary_: "In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit it is the first."

  32. squiggles: the loudest voices raised in protest at the kneelers are the voices of those who blocked measures to fix the roads and bridges. Inner cities, as now constituted, never had jobs, so the promise to bring jobs back there is a fraud, as is much of what passes for patriotism. Do you think the NFL owners are more moved by the anthem than by the bottom line?

  33. David, I'm not a high school football player but if I was, your lame argument wouldn't have convinced me to ignore what is, to celebrate what you tell me was supposed to be. You almost got me with the 'this is what gives Donald Trump a platform.' Then I remembered Trump wants to take the country back to the patriotic era that existed before Black had rights that a white man had to respect (or close to it). No thanks. I'll sit, or kneel, this one out!

  34. Dear Mr Brooks -- You are eloquent but utterly wrong.

  35. The "civic religion" of America, the passion for reform and the respect for debate about how to achieve it, the belief that respect for our differences can unite us--these are things that are honored by exercising them.

    We are living in a time when half the country wants to throw our ideals and institutions in the trash, and turn the country over to a mendacious and thuggish entertainer, simply because he flatters their craving for entitlement and self-pity. In that context the athletes who are using their voices to engage real issues are beacons of patriotism.

  36. Conservatives like the idea of mindless conformity, but they also have no sense of irony. So when they see someone taking a stand by kneeling down, it confuses them. They tell us that our forefathers didn’t fight for freedom so that people could actually exercise that freedom. It’s un-American.

    We got off to a bad start when we forcibly took the Land of the Free from the braves who were already living here.

    That land of the free now incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country on earth, and to compound ironies, most of those in jail are descendants of former slaves. We respect life above all, but unlike most other civilized countries we kill murderers to demonstrate how much we value it.

    In a country settled by people looking for religious freedom, the freedom to profess no religion is barely an option. But we treat all people equally, unless you're poor, sick, a woman, a member of a minority or an LGBT citizen.

    In a nation whose founders valued intelligence, Donald Trump might become our next president.

    The early settlers came to America to find freedom. They left their homes to escape religious persecution, civil unrest, political instability and injustice. In short, the early settlers were running away from the kind of country we’ve become.

    As long as we mindlessly stand for the national anthem, we’ll apparently stand for anything.

  37. Very well said!

  38. I always enjoy reading your comments but this is perhaps the best I've ever read.

    Thank you, gemli.

  39. gemli,

    Wish I could "recommend" this multiple times!

  40. Dear David, you are so utterly wrong about this.
    You should be applauding the young generation for taking a more balanced look at patriotism instead of lamenting that they might not be "the most patriotic people on earth" anymore, because fundamentally patriotism is the conviction that a particular country is the best in the world because you were born in it, as Bernard Shaw used to say. What's great about that?
    This kind of unreflected patriotism impedes critical thinking about one's country and an honest reflection on the country's history, and America is the prime example.
    Native-Americans are locked away in their reservation yet every year the country basically celebrates their holocaust at Thanksgiving. There is a huge memorial for all the poor American souls sacrificed during the Vietnam war yet no mention of the genocide of the people there. The country was made on the back of slaves yet African-Americans are still shot for driving while being black.
    You are right that "we have a crisis", just look at the two presidential candidates or Congress. But the way forward is not through some "shared displays of reverence", but exactly what the people "pulling a Kaepernick" are doing: a critical assessment of the current state of affairs, an honest historical reckoning, and a willingness to be counted.
    About time. Germany, Japan, South Africa, Ruanda and the Catholic Church did it. Israel at some point will have to do it.
    If there ever was a time for the US to do it, it is now

  41. Very well put. America needs some serious soul-searching and with the backdrop of the two worst presidential candidates in history, now would be the time to do it.

  42. Important perspective and great analysis as usual. Always looking forward to your take on these opinion pieces. Thank you.

  43. "There’s been a sharp decline in American patriotism."

    All I can say is: Thank God! Patriotism in the U.S. has been used incessantly to stifle criticism of Extreme Capitalism, defend the Law of the Jungle, defend the 2nd Amendment (foreign invasion? Gimme a break!) and to prepare the citizenry for Wars of Choice from Vietnam to Iraq. The very worst crimes have been committed, and continue to be committed, under the guise of the 'Patriot Act', a title so vehemently obnoxious as turn the stomach of everyone who sees through it.

    The patriotic brainwashing is to be seen in the ubiquitous Stars and Stripes, and even with anthem singing at Little League games: Get them while they're young! Create and nurture an Orwellian society that jumps to attention whenever its government identifies 'enemies', suddenly announces them as 'friends' and then switches back again (Saddam, Qaddafi, .....) or decides that the instigator of 9/11, Saudi Arabia, was totally blameless.

    Mark Twain called patriotism "the last refuge of the scoundrel", so the decline in U.S. 'patriots' is a promising development.

  44. As the other commentators have pointed out, this column is so ludicrous as to defy description. Let me just make one factual point. "Many schools no longer teach American history." We can argue whether American history is well taught...and we can certainly have a lively discussion with educational reformers as to whether it was EVER well taught...but as far as I know it is still taught in almost every if not every school in the nation.

  45. The same America that elected President Obama might soon elect the Chief Racist, Trump. Do we accept the good with the bad in America and continue to stand with the flag if that happens? I don't know.

  46. High school football players,kneeling during the national anthem, are not engaging David's elitist concept of "post nationalism", they are responding to the the stark reality of police brutality and institutional racism. Today's column, a paean to "American Exceptionalism", is best answered by Ta-Nehisi Coates. "American Exceptionalism understands itself as God's handiwork, but the Black Body is the clearest proof that America is the work of men." When David alluded to the Puritans "launching their process of Americanization" was he including their witch trials, misogyny, slaughter of Native Americans,and dominance of the slave trade? Oh and by the way, in 1776 if your family were slaves, it had a definite bearing on your opportunities. It is the epitome of presumption and arrogance, when David Brooks us what it means to sing the National Anthem. The glaring omission from today's column was any reference to the essence of America, freedom of choice and expression.

  47. So did David Brooks even bother fully reading the links he provided for the decline in patriotism, or did he just want to cherry pick data to fit his argument? The 2003 spike in patriotism was a post-9/11 reaction. The cited Gallup poll shows that the percentage of US adults to be "extremely proud" to be American was 55% in 2001, 70% in 2003 - the post-9/11 high, 57% in 2013, and 52% currently. Both the links cited state that the plunge in patriotism happened during George W. Bush's presidency. Let's see, what happened in 2003 to cause a steady plunge in patriotism from 70% in 2003 to 57% in 2007? The disasterous Iraq War that Brooks and his Neocon buddies cheerled - a war fought with American and Iraqi lives on behalf of Saudi Arabia and Israel and Evangelical Christians, the oil industry and military industrial complex. And then we had Bush's financial crisis where unregulated - based on Republican free market dogma - Wall Street fraud destroyed the American and global economies. Patriotism was steady at 57% between 2007 and 2013. Yes, it's declined to 52% (assuming Gallup poll has that kind of precision) in last 3 years - based on some the issues Brooks raises. But it is Bush and Brooks, who now deceptively hides behind the flag and anthem, that are far more responsible for the decline in patriotism than the very legitimate criticisms of critics like Ta-Nehisi Coates.

  48. David Brooks appears quite out of touch with the plight and fears of black youth in this country today. I'd say he has lived his life insulated from this part of America. When I read his editorial, I hear an attempt to keep the views of black youth suppressed using a rational argument of white patriotism based on the white history of the country. I would argue that such protest should not be inhibited because it has provided significant attention to the black/white conflict in the country in a peaceful manner.

  49. Mark:
    I'd say Mr. Kaepernick has too.

  50. When and why do you think that a solo performer of our National anthem has taken away our units voices singing it?

  51. The national anthem celebrates a particular battle in a particular war, and not the country. It is centered (in name and text) on our flag. The Pledge of Allegiance is to "pledge allegiance to the flag". Neither celebrates the country you want us all to be proud of. How about singing "America the Beautiful" and someone writing a pledge to the ideals of the Constitution and making sure we all know the words "We the People, of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty" would be more likely to bind us as a nation. Perhaps using those direct words from the Constitution is enough of a pledge (just change "in order to" to "pledge to" or "strive to")! ! I leave to others the debates over our history and the role of nationalism itself, but let's at least celebrate the country and the Constitution, not just the flag!

  52. To sum: If African-Amerocans simply showed reverence to the flag that has oppressed them, there would be empathy from white people and we would all just get along. Ironically, by calling out Coates, Mr. Brooks has made it clear who is actually qualified to talk about this issue. If only the Times took notice and updated their historical and social commentary to the current century.

  53. Mr. Brooks, I think you have it backwards. Optimism is said to be a good thing, but it can also take one into the realm of Martin Luther King Jr. lived and worked at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement, when it was (perhaps) reasonable to presume that systemic change was possible. Not any more. Move forward fifty years and how do see "middle" America respond to the election of black President?

    The emergence of a successful political moevment (the Tea Party) whose entire purpose is to frustrate that |President's policies, regardless of their merits.

    State legislatures working to suppress minority voters with "surgical" precision.

    Drug laws which have he effect of imprisoning (and often effectively enslaving) minority males in disproportionate numbers all to the benefit of the for-profit prison industry.

    Unarmed and/or compliant black males shot down by police with in frightening numbers and with few (if any) consequences to the shooters.

    And a Presidential candidate running at 40% support who is the nation's Number 1 birther, and whose entire campaign is openly and unashamedly built around the premise that (1) white American males deserve a free pass to the head of every line on the planet and (2) that no person of color can ever be a true American.

    Why would any reasonable person want to show "solidarity" with a nation which had an opportunity to change, but choose not to?

  54. When Europeans first settled this continent? Is that what happened? This continent was unsettled until Europeans arrived and settled it? Is this what you learned in your American History classes?

    Did Dr. King sing the national anthem before he wrote from a Birmingham jail cell:

    "I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season."'

    This column seems to be calling for order.

  55. There were people here before the Europeans arrived with their ethnic problems. Remember the Dutch bought Manhattan from the Manhattan Indians for 24 bucks worth of beads. But the Duke of York took New Amsterdam by threat of force!

    Ethnic cliques are still a problem. Our Ceo class has exacerbated the issue. Our politicians follow their lead. There is a reason for having a country, but most people seem to think that it is to serve their needs alone. We are a washed out nation, waiting to be exploited by a loon running for Potus.

    The problems started before 'W' but he really got the landslide going. I hate to keep mentioning the H -1b jack ups from 65000 to 195000, but our nation's best were disenfranchised. A generation later, things are worse and the day glow head can't fix them!

  56. Mr. Brooks,
    You are out of your mind. This says nothing to me and even less to my 18yo son who on any given day can be killed by state apparatus and labled a thug by virtue of how he looks, a 6'3 black kid football player who appeared menacing to you. On or off the football field we will sit. Wake up sir.

  57. He is "out of his mind" because he holds a different opinion from you? I appreciate your point and your feelings. But, if we cannot disagree with our fellow citizens without insults and name calling, we are lost. Remember:" when they go low, we go high".

  58. Yes. Thank you. On the football field is one of the few places he or she can protest with out great risk of being shot.

  59. It makes no sense to sing to empty ideals. That would be ignoring the fact that large numbers of Americans are simply not equal before the law. They are shot and killed by law enforcement at alarming rates. Yesterday it was a young boy with a BB gun in Cleveland. The are incarcerated for longer terms. The justice system doesn't work for them. There are many states and cities that essentially run debtors' prisons. Quiet public protest over horrific injustice seems worthy of respect and a necessary call to right violations of American ideals. Justice for all is patriotic. Not singing a song about the War of 1812.

  60. Bush destroyed "the home of the brave" when he fomented terror in our population instead of reassuring us that he screwed up and let thugs from a Wahhabi cult to attack us. He failed to prevent Americans from assuming that they are in danger from these thugs, Russia and china pose a real threat, but our W created a climate in which Al Qaeda assumed existential threat status. Bush makes us ashamed of what our country has done to the world and ashamed of how he militarized our police and put the police in siege mode. Bush made it possible for police to shoot persons who scare them. He did this with the approval and support of the Republican party which thrives in a climate of fear where they exploit the fearful.

  61. This is one of the most ridiculous opinion pieces I've ever read. Anyway, I listened to a clip of Jesse Williams a couple of days ago and he brought up an excellent question which was "would you require Jewish person written by a Nazi?" The writer of the national anthem was a racist and a career slave owner and he even included his racist views in the third verse of the national anthem. Kaepernic's cause is just but seen in this new light, it makes any controversy over his protest seem even more ridiculous.

  62. The athletes who are "pulling a Kaepernick" should also be reminded that those of us who might watch them play football, may change our minds and stop watching.

  63. They're there to play football. Why are football games preceded by the national anthem (or in some places prayers)? The NFL presents itself as if it's the fifth arm of the military, and I for one am sickened by their wrapping their corporate interests in the flag.

  64. "those of us who might watch them play football, may change our minds and stop watching."

    Given that "may" means that there exists a non-zero chance, no matter how minute, of something happening, you are correct. It might happen. But in real life, we both know that it won't.

  65. Mr. Brooks is correct, but for a different reason. The current protests are focusing on the protesters and the protests themselves, not on the motivating factor; racism and inequality before the law.
    This hasn't always been the case, but it seems to be almost universal in recent years. Everyone wishing to 'raise awareness' about a cause invariably brings attention only to themselves and the cause itself is rarely discussed. It's not the fault of the protest or the people, it's the zeitgeist.

  66. In the American context, patriotism is the virtue exhibited by those who thoughtfully embrace and defend their own rights to life, to liberty, to equality of opportunity, and to the pursuit of happiness, and who have assumed the duty to respect and defend those same rights as resident in all others.

    Mr. Brooks makes many fine points, but his emphasis on the symbols and rituals surrounding this virtue of the spirit strikes me as disturbing, although such doubtlessly was not his intent.

    Isn't there a danger that such emphasis too readily might degenerate into the idolatry of civil religion and result in a manipulated, or even coerced, conformity to that creed?

    Manipulation, coercion and conformity are obvious impediments to liberty.

    Proliferation of patriotism's symbols and demands that one conform to its rituals cheapen those symbols and rituals, and diminish their significance.

    The presence of a flag-pin in the lapel of every politician within the House of Representative's GOP "Freedom" Caucus strikes me as a case in point. Is there danger that the ubiquity of a symbol might cloak a widespread misunderstanding of, and shallow commitment to, deeper spiritual and patriotic ideals?

  67. Great text. The more multicultural a country becomes the more patriotism is needed to keep it together. The trend towards identity and victim politics is leading not to greater community but to separatism and greater polarization.

    In Europe, years of pushing multiculturalism down peoples' throats has backfired and populations are now pushing back. Unless politicians and intellectuals channel this into patriotism, these emotions will lead to ethnic nationalism. Support for Trump didn't just pop up. It's partly a reaction against real or perceived criticism of the nation.

  68. "A reaction against real.... criticism of the nation."

    I've rarely seen a sadder line.

    Genuine, constructive criticism is one of the greatest signs of authentic love.

  69. Why countries? Is the idea of a nation-state antiquated and counter productive in a world where we can be just about anywhere within a matter of hours and global trade makes us more reliant on people thousands of miles away than we are on our neighbor across the street? Perhaps it is time to shift away from patriotism (tribalism on steroids) and recognize we are all one people. This is idea is not an idle dream, it is a matter of survival for our species, including you and your neighbor across the street.

  70. I drive through a small town in Maine quite often. In that very small, all white town, there is a hanging American flag on every telephone pole on their Main St. There must be 60 flags hanging there all the time. I scorn such displays and do not see it as patriotism. I see it as overkill and it turns me off completely. Or seeing candidates standing in front of a mass of American flags. I, frankly, find it sickening.

    I hope the athletes continue to do what their conscience tells them to do. That's more honest than these extravagant, unneeded displays that are just overwhelming and only makes me think of how America has failed in so many ways anybody who is not white and male wrapped in their flag.

  71. Surely there is more to patriotism than singing anthems, saluting flags, having barbecues on Independence Day, shouting "USA! USA!"and claiming to be "extremely proud." Surely true love of country requires rolling up the sleeves and doing one's share to help one's country achieve its full potential; reduce disparities, save its natural environment, pay one's taxes, obey the laws or work to change them, vote in every election, help crown our good with brother- and sister-hood from sea to shining sea.

  72. But the people who cite "patriotism" most, whether the bloviators on Fox or David Brooks, are the ones who understand the nation least and are willing to do something other than educate, that is, mislead for profit.

  73. hear here. I applaud you

  74. Why doesn't David understand this?

  75. If you want to equate this most mild form of protest with a lack of patriotism, then you're trying to limit free speech which is un-American as all get out.

    Whatever happened to disagreeing with what someone says, but defending their right to say it?

  76. Brooks is sort of correct in that those who reject the idolatry of the flag will be pilloried and their message undermined. So kneeling during the anthem at a football game (another format of religion in America) is probably not the best strategy for persuading people.

    On the other hand, it does point out the hypocrisy of so-called patriots who claim to love the freedom the flag supposedly represents until someone exercises their freedom to express a different view.

  77. The football players who choose to kneel rather than to stand for the national anthem are clearly entitled to express their opinion about the state of America. That others may find their rationale to be sophistry is also an example of our freedom of thought and speech.

    Racism is a fact of life in this country.

    Racism is practiced by many whites toward blacks and by many blacks toward whites. There are people of both races who simply detest the sight of the other for no rational reason whatsoever.

    The only issue that can be addressed is institutional racism wherein the power of governance is used to systemically oppress people because of their race. That is why the bullying and oppression of blacks by a small percentage of cops, both black and white cops, requires redress by Americans who believe in the notion that all people are created equal and deserve to be treated with respect, so long as their behavior warrants respect.

    What too many commentators seem to forget is that in today's age of camera phones,social media and the like, there aren't any places to hide despicable behavior. Bad cops cannot hide for long. Guess what, gang banging thugs cannot hide for long either, particularly when they video themselves in the act of their violence.

    Racism hurts everyone. Whether its committed by blacks on whites or by whites on blacks. When thinking people see fit to criticize both, and hold both accountable for their acts, then we might see some progress on the topic.

  78. "We have a crisis of solidarity. That makes it hard to solve every other problem we have."
    This column reeks of hypocrisy! Mr Brooks has been one of the major GOP apologists during the last 8 years which has seen the most vicious anti-President drive I have witnessed from an opposition party. I have little doubt from the "birthers" to the good ol' boys in , much of this has been a racist reaction to America's first black President. And now Mr Brooks gives his paternalistic advice to an individual who has chosen to make his feelings known about an aspect of our society, that is shameful, a way that Mr Brooks disapproves of! Get over yourself Brooks. We have a less-than-perfect social order that the party you supports exacerbates! A stand (or a kneel) for greater social justice should be welcomed.

  79. One of the most disappointing Brooks columns ever. I stand for the National Anthem and I say the Pledge. That's my choice--I appreciate the gift I was given when this country accepted my family as immigrants a century ago and, by extension, allowed me to share its heritage. But part of that heritage is the right to dissent, peaceably, when a citizen believes that the government is not living up to the ideals of the Founders. That right of dissent has been exercised constantly in the last 240 years--it was exercised by the very men who led us to demand our Independence. Sometimes it is wrongheaded or even destructive, and sometimes it leads to great movements, the accomplishments of which we can all take pride. To stifle it is to deny the reason we are a country in the first place. At a time when a Presidential candidate claims he can only lose by fraud, when the Republican Governor of Kentucky suggests armed resistance to a possible Clinton Presidency, Mr. Brooks offers a sermon--to a bunch of high school kids--on civics?

  80. Kids that are kneeling - which means they are attuned to the debate about how to show respect and dissent at the same time. I wish they could stand, with their heads held high, as I am sure they do too. In the meantime, they are quietly calling for something better.

  81. But which pledge is the right one? I'm old enough that the pledge I learned did not have "under god in it."

  82. I would recite the "Pledge of Allegiance" if it were truly what its name implies and were a promise to adhere to the values enshrined in the Constitution by this country's founders. It in fact states allegiance to a symbolic piece of cloth, followed by a statement of religious belief ("one nation under God") not shared by me or many other Americans, and that followed by a patently untrue statement ("with liberty and justice for all"). The "pledge" ritual is a hallmark of totalitarian societies. It should have no place in a country that values freedom.

  83. Oh say, can we see our way through to being proud of our country again?
    Our national psyche would improve if could.
    A people can't quite be happy if they're not proud of their country.
    Let's get to work on that.

  84. The athletes are doing peaceful demonstrations. I think demonstrating during the anthem is disrespectful, but then what's more disrespectful -- in fact harmful -- Kaepernick's protest or Cruz's brinkmanship in the Senate?

    On patriotism today, how do you characterize a Republican party nominee who wraps himself in the flag and then so quickly does the unpatriotic thing of extolling Putin? How is this not mental illness?

    On early settlers putting intense moral pressure on themselves -- I don't see it in their espousing 'all men are created equal' and yet countenancing slavery.

    The peacefully protesting athletes are saying that the flag has got tatters.

  85. Joe:
    What, or who, if it lives long enough does not have tatters? I have tatters, Kaepernick has tatters, maybe even you. If Mr. Kaepernick, not just his money, works to improve the situation he says he is protesting, all to the good. Right now, his display seems immature and privileged. It seems insufficient to merely conduct a refusal protest over things being "tattered". We as citizens have responsibilities as well as rights. When the press covers him exercising his responsibilites, I'll be impressed.

  86. If you're trying to persuade these black kids--or anyone--that taking a knee during the national anthem is "extremely counterproductive," the argument you've come up with is an ineffective muddle.

    Using patriotism as the underlying logic is essentially another version of go along, get along; move to the back of the bus and keep quiet. The idea of patriotism as a shared value to bind people to American exceptionalism is quite likely to ring hollow to a black kid whose been rousted by the cops for the 10th time this year.

    America is exceptional for the very reason that Kaepernick and these high school players have the First Amendment right to express their views in any way they see fit. That a writer from the NYT's ivory tower offers in argument a lack of patriotism to dismiss these mild and dignified protests displays a shocking lack of understanding of how people really live in this country.

  87. From the process of Americanization to Dr. King? Seriously? And the Pilgrims made America? The Pilgrims engaged in self-examination? No, the Pilgrims and their ilk were judgmental tyrants who came to America not for religious freedom but for hegemony, religious and otherwise.

    Wanting to be better led to the Civil War? There were two sides to that war, and the bitterness of the losers existed long before King or Coates. Blaming Trump's support on objections to racism is, frankly, sick. America is indeed in dire straits: it is there because of long festering sores, of which racism is one, a sickness ignored by the faux-intellectuals and boosters of the GOP.

  88. David nowhere in this article, especially during "the Puritans launched themselves upon the process of Americanization.” is the word "Slavery" mentioned. Why is that?

  89. The mixing of sports and nationalism is atrocious - it's simple brainwashing. Luckily I can't imagine too many high school athletes listening to David Brooks. David, go back to bashing Trump - you were on a great roll!

  90. Mr. Brooks:

    Move to Camden, New Jersey.

    Then, if you're still so moved, you can lecture Camden high school football players on their "counter-productive" patriotism.

    Until then, Mr. Brooks, you need to think a lot more, and speak and write a lot less.

  91. Brooks confuses a gesture, standing for the Pledge of Allegiance, with patriotism. Why is kneeling in remembrance of those who have been unjustly killed any less patriotic than standing with one's hand over their heart? As i see it, Kaepernick and others who kneel draw attention to American ideals just as much as those who stand; they simply ask for greater inclusion. Complaining that Kaepernick and others inspire a lack of patriotism is silly and myopic. What's next? Are you going to insist that those who watch the game from the comfort of our living rooms also stand during the anthem? Will that somehow bring us closer together?

  92. I've always disliked the coercive aspects of the National Anthem at the start of events. As a result, I often do not participate. However these individuals, sitting down during the anthem, disturb me. I am disturbed by their privileges manifested in a clear double standard. If players decided to sit down to show their support of the KKK, you can believe the leagues wouldn't tolerate it. If we are going to allow protest politics at these events, then we should allow ALL protest politics. Not just those supported by the ruling elites. Not just those we feel valid.

  93. The league is perfectly free not to equivocate support for an organization which murders African American children with the right of African Americans (and anyone else for that matter) to protest injustice.

  94. To me, standing for the National Anthem or reciting the pledge is not blind patriotism, it is a mixture of gratitude for what we have and acknowledging that we can do better. Mr. Kaepernick has, according to the Net Worth site, $25 million. Not bad for someone who feels oppressed. He can do a lot with that money. Or he can squander it. If he lived in Africa, some parts of the Middle East, or any third world country, he probably would not have had the opportunity to do so well. That's not to say everything is fair and everyone has the opportunity, or that everyone has the same talents, but he made it. When he is standing out there, black and white young kids are looking up to him as a role model of what they might possibly achieve. I hope he realizes that he as responsibilities as well as rights.

  95. I never get the "look how rich you are" argument. What does that have to do with Human Rights? There are lottery winners too and they didn't work for their money just got lucky. Equality of rights, of acceptance, of treatment under law has nothing to do with cash in hand unless you need to buy someone off. I am sure these protesting football players appreciate their enviable cash flow situation but that's not the point. Are you being purposefully obtuse?

  96. The civic religion based on blacks being three fifths of a person? The early settlers outlawed black slavery--oh, wait . . . Whitewashing of history by a privileged white man.

  97. "The civic religion based on blacks being three fifths of a person?"

    Wrong. Not *blacks* -- slaves. Big difference; many free blacks in the South were slave owners themselves...

  98. Patriotism requires we be critical as well as celebrating. Loving one's country without thinking about one's country , without looking and examining, is jingoism, not patriotism.

    Democracy is messy, especially in a pluralistic society, in which we all have different concepts of what makes a country great.

    We do need solidarity. We need to agree that the ideals put forth in the Declaration, and embodied in the Constitution, remain our core philosophy. We need to see those ideals in action: see people voting. See Congress acting like adults and not 11 years olds on the playground, taking their ball and going home. We need to see less of governments suing each other and more attempts to find common ground.

    Kneeling through the national anthem is not unpatriotic, and it is not an assault on solidarity. It is a re-inforcement of the ideals we misplace. It is our job to set things right which are veering away from our foundation. Solidarity comes from recognizing that sitting out the national anthem may be the best way to respect it.

  99. I love the USA . I am just so embarrassed that we unleashed Dubya and the Cheney on the world That is what happened

  100. Where was Mr. Brooks during the last big challenge to the meaning of patriotism? In the 1960s, masses of people challenged the meaning of the United States. It was a time of turmoil, The Civil Rights Act and Vietnam War among other less obvious sources of contention.
    Republicans won that round. Fear and repulsion at riots and crime gave rise to the Republican Revolution. And then, Richard Nixon and his plumbers undermined whatever trust remained in the federal government.
    Attitudes toward the federal government are an important part of forging national unity. The Great Depression forged national unity around the vision of a federal government that could help people.
    It was an imperfect vision, but World War II, coalesced the USA as it responded to an existential threat. There weren't a lot of people during WWII who failed to respond to the symbolism of the Pledge or the national anthem.
    The Cold War extended that unity, but it was different. The enemy, international communism, was less clearly defined.
    We no longer have a common enemy and it's almost as if we are looking for one. Terror, carried out by a motley group of loosely aligned individuals, is a poor substitute for the Axis powers.
    It's true that there's a crisis of solidarity. Slicing and dicing the electoral has made it worse. Does standing and singing the national anthem really build a little solidarity? Or do we have to do something else to bring us together?

  101. I would be curious to know how Mr. Brooks expects his New York Times column regarding the true merits of patriotism be conveyed to African American high school football players. I assume he is not arrogant enough to think that they are his audience.

  102. Kevin Hancock:
    Do you think high school football players are his audience?

  103. what a blowhard and a load of nonsense!

  104. Patriotic rituals that lead to a sense of community may be a good thing, but patriotism itself has historically often led to blind acceptance of all government actions- good and bad.

    Protesting unjust war or unjust and corrupt law enforcement are acts of the highest patriotism of much greater virtue than joining a mere patriotic ritual.

    I support Kapernick's protest, although not his interpretation of America, based on his reported commentary- but I'm not from his old neighborhood.

    Most of America's grave injustices have been water off the back of my privileged demographic. Never had to fight in a stupid war, live in a neighborhood of high violence or attend poor and underfunded schools.

    David's and my America is not everyone's America. Who are we to preach to those who know and have lived in the dark side of the American reality?

  105. The anthem is a 2 minute break used at public gatherings to remind all of us how this country was formed. Its a chance to remind us that we are in this together. America represents the world as the only true multi cultural country. Its an experiment that may or may not work. Mixing people from different cultures and beliefs continues to be a difficult proposition, but it also appears to be our greatest strength.
    The most oppressed people in our country have always been the poor. If anyone should be kneeling it should be them...there is more than enough oppression to go around.

  106. Independent,
    You cannot be reminded of what you never knew. If you know nothing of the English Civil War, if you know nothing of the East India Company, if you know nothing of the madness of King George, if you know nothing of Whigs and Tories, if you know nothing of the enlightenment and if you know nothing about 18th century Unitarianism you do not know American history. Nothing is as unAmerican as the national anthem before a football game except maybe the inclusion of under God in the pledge of allegiance.

  107. "Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.” - George Bernard Shaw

  108. We teach American History at an early age to all citizens in the United States. If you came here after you completed school you must pass a test to become a citizen. Everyone should know and they don't know they are not responsible citizens...if you missed all of the above you should ask someone...don't they do that in Canada?

  109. Interrogating one's national anthem can be a useful thing. Germans still sing their anthem to the tune of "Deutschland Uber Alles" but not the particular stanza containing that line, due to its association with Nazi Germany. I'm not sure anyone except neo-Nazis would argue that they should still sing the whole thing "because patriotism."

    Before this controversy, I didn't know our anthem had so much to do with slavery. I'm glad I know. I love America's ideals, but I wouldn't mind a different song ("This Land is Your Land," maybe?)

  110. Perhaps you can explain, Ann, why an anthem cannot represent the entire history of a country. This land is your land? Maybe you would be happy if a trigger warning was given before singing the anthem.

  111. I'm with you in spirit Ann, but i think Guthrie wrote his anthem for the rest of us in protest of what he perceived to be an elitist ( and arguably jingoistic) show tune, God Bless America.

  112. No. ALL Puritans were not the same. It was little solace for the child laborers and indentured servants and those seen as "rubbish" and "white trash" by the plundering "better class" of English colonists. Please give us a break. The same folks Kaepernick is protesting are all headed to Church this Sunday.

  113. Mark,
    I would submit that many of those indentured servants later became small land owners, and while America, especially in such colonies as Virginia and New York grew into oligarchies, America has always been a struggle between the forces of oligarchy and democracy, and one of the pleasures and torments of being an American is to engage in this struggle, which gives our life a sense of participation and richness that many others in the world don't have.

  114. Any way you slice it oppression of this kind is immoral. Survival of the fittest is not the path to civilization.

  115. Many years ago in high school I refused to rise to utter the Pledge of Allegiance, because it was patently clear that the country wasn't providing "liberty and justice for all." Later in my life I came to the view that the Pledge was articulating an ideal for which we were to strive, that we were as a country called to strive to fulfill. In that, I think, you can find our American exceptionalism, not in some cockeyed notion of "God's chosen." I am, however, convinced that living that creed rather than transmitting it "through shared displays of reverence" is the more effective means to action, and I am absolutely sure that telling kids that in order to get their rights they must placate or ask those withholding justice from them "to right your injustice" displays a great ignorance of the fact that you don't get your rights by placating or asking those withholding them from you to give them to you but by actions--including the ones David Brooks deplores. It seems David Brooks needs to re-read King's "Letter from BIrmingham Jail."

  116. For over 40 years, when saying the Pledge, I have always said "I pledge allegiance to the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with ideals of liberty and justice for all". It is one way of "living that creed" that vocalizes my love of country. The kneeling is a more visible and appropriate call to action, totally in line with the ideals of this country. AKS, your comments are my sentiments exactly

  117. Brooks' comment that we have a crisis of solidarity rings true. However over the years all those economically and socially disenfranchised USA citizens who have framed themselves in solidarity with the "radical song about a radical place" have not seen either significant economic nor significant social improvement. America is not a classless society by any means. Indeed the Trump campaign has revealed a very large swath of the population, many but not all Republican, who view blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, etc. as intruders and disruptors of American culture, society, and their neighborhoods, at least as they perceive it.

    So those who now demonstrate a lack of solidarity with the "radical song about a radical place" radically express, in a way which the founders of the nation enshrined in our Constitution, the lack of solidarity that they live and feel. The burden of change, it seems to me, is on the majority of the population, not the minority expressing dissatisfaction.

  118. I'm not even sure I know where to start. To tell people to shut up and go along with some ideal they believe so the majority will recognize their pain is absurd and condescending. Talk about privileged thinking! So everyone out their who is concerned about racial divisions in this country; don't speak your mind, don't make your point, don't kneel or stand in peaceful protest, don't do anything to make old white guys uncomfortable, just play along and your concerns will be taken care of. Enough of the manifest destiny bull already! Mr Brooks, change only comes from those that stand out from the crowd, those that don't accept the status quo, those that have the passion to stand up or kneel down to make their voices heard not those that meekly hide in the crowd and just get along.

  119. I came to feel most patriotic about America when I lived for a time in a post-Soviet Central Asian country under an authoritarian regime that absolutely suffocated free expression. In America, we are so lucky that our founding documents protect free expression of ideas. Keep protesting, football players, you embody that American ideal.

  120. But our founding documents seem Not to consistently protect "free expression".
    What about the librarians, called the "Connecticut Four" in 2005 and their "gag order" ?

  121. I'm sorry, but don't you think tthat maybe the {uritans were berating themselves because they were NOT working toward a just and open society for all? I don't know why anyone ever portrays the Puritans as seeking freedom and liberty. They came here to conduct persecutions against "heretics" that English common law would not have allowed. They murdered Indians and stole their land. You need to pay attention to the articles int he paper that pays you, because they've made a very clear case that Francis Scott Key was writing about victory over rebellious slaves, not just victory over the British. So the national anthem has EVERYthing to do with state-sanctioned killing of unarmed black men.

  122. I'm appalled. I had a great American history teacher in high school. I'm an academic (in science) who reads about our history for fun. And the more I learn, the more I'm ashamed of my country. Sure, I acknowledge the extreme fortune I have in having been born in a country where I can freely educate myself and express my thoughts. And I do not take that for granted. But saying a pledge and singing an anthem that were instituted during the worst of our times as a nation (during war and when whites ruled supreme) does not in any way reflect the affection I feel for the ideals that we struggle toward every day. The words of the anthem are empty; Kaepernick's actions and the discussions that have followed say much more. if high schoolers agree, let them!

  123. "When Europeans first settled this continent they had two big thoughts. The first was that God had called them to create a good and just society on this continent. The second was that they were screwing it up."

    The Roanoke and Jamestown colonies were not dedicated to god or patriotism. The Plymouth colony of separatists were an investment venture that was prohibited from establishing a religion ... but they lied.

    Pennsylvania and Rhode Island were colonies anxious to preserve freedom from religion, while New York went so far as to seek non-Christians. Maryland allowed the Catholics usually feared by most Anglos, while other colonies established the Church of England, which from the time of Elizabeth I had been practicing a form of religious tolerance.

    Since you've confused religion with patriotism, and since Massachusetts was the only colony that meets your definition, it is important to note that Massachusetts was decidedly unpatriotic. James I was trying to assert leadership of the church in both Scotland and England, and the very unpatriotic Separatists needed to escape prosecution for subverting the king's authority.

    Please stop quoting myths from grammar school.

  124. Dear Mr. Brooks,
    I was not aware that the "Puritans" had settled in Florida and the Caribbean?
    St. Augustine's followers must have been very uncomfortable in their black hats and stuffy garb because of the heat and humidity. St.Augustine is also the name of the oldest city in the United States.
    Because when "Europeans first settled this continent' they were;
    a. Speaking Spanish
    b. Were mostly Catholic
    c. Were mostly Spanish.
    I expect as a Republican, however, such "details" are meaningless as they would defy the "lily white" view of American conquest of the continent.
    Further, in regards to the basis of your column, I would just quote Mr. Sinclair Lewis:
    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross".
    Patriotism is the last resort of the desperate obviating any need for a thoughtful and concerned electorate.
    Mr. Kaepernick and any other individual has the right and, perhaps, a 'duty' to point out the flaws in American democracy in any peaceful way they can.

  125. A question, an opinion and a statement of fact:

    (1) why do we play the national anthem before football games; it's always
    seemed silly to me
    (2) I've been around high school and college athletes my whole life and have
    never known one who read your column

  126. You don't have to read beyond "pulling a Kaepernick" to see where this goes. Oh what troubles we face when those blacks won't behave in ways we whites approve.

  127. Thanks, Harry. Great response.

  128. oh, about those native americans and slaves...

  129. Free speech, hello? Peaceful protest?
    I find it more relevant and important than a thousand flag wavers and pin-wearers or anyone proclaiming their status as Patriot. All of whom I suspect are connected one way or another to our war machine.
    At least this generation has the sense to protest peacefully, unlike mine at e.g. the 68 Chicago convention.
    Plus if large black footballers did agitate there's a good chance they'd get shot. They are not unaware of reality, unlike some.
    As another has noted, why must the anthem be played before every sports event anyway? Even little league? Whose rule? Reminds me of forced prayer in Catholic school, which becomes mindless through repetition anyway. We should save it for Olympic medals and important events, stop the insanity. Bombs bursting in air does not bring up anything but our ongoing bombing of smaller poorer countries; it does not make me proud.
    Solidarity won't be built on the anthem before games, Brooks. Fail.

  130. It's the GOP draft dodgers (writers and politicians) who are most notable about wrapping themselves in flags and guns. Trump is the ideal candidate for this bunch of phonies.

  131. The protesters in Chicago in '68 *were* peaceful; the violence was a riot by the police. That's not just my opinion; it was the conclusion of the commission appointed by the Johnson administration. Of course the Nixon administration then ignored the commission's report, commended the cops and prosecuted the demonstrators.

  132. The column does not suggest the illegitimacy of the protest, just the efficacy of the means of protest.

  133. Really, David, your reading of American history is so simplistic. Good for these kids, who know too well what's going on.

  134. David,
    Thank you for finally putting "jeremiads" in a sentence.

  135. Mr. Brooks depicts America as a country whose sense of national identity originated in adherence to the ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. A nation comprised of people from every ethnic and religious group on the planet could not coalesce around the typical commonalities of race or culture. Tension and conflict, however, arose from the grim fact that those revered principles of equality and freedom never reflected an achieved reality. To this day they represent an aspiration, a work in progress.

    The demonstrated capacity of the US to absorb the diverse elements that define this country partially confirms Brooks's interpretation. He neglects to describe, however, an alternative vision of America that has always competed for dominance with the idealistic one. The supporters of this less expansive narrative of our origins portray the US as a nation formed from white Protestant Christians fleeing a corrupt Europe. While other ethnic and religious groups also gained admittance, they never helped to shape the character of this 'exceptional' nation.

    Many of the political conflicts that have pockmarked American history have stemmed from a struggle between these competing narratives. Trump and the protesting athletes have enlisted on opposite sides of this ongoing conflict. In two months the rest of us will help to decide whether America will follow the path blazed by the Declaration or allow fear to destroy our sense of direction.

  136. Once again a white man using words like "post-nationalism" and "crisis of solidarity" explains to people of color why they are being inappropriate.

    If America is in the throes of a "crisis of solidarity," it's not because some football players are kneeling during the National Anthem. Does it occur to you, Mr. Brooks, that although you may not agree with their chosen mode of expressing themselves, that there might be a legitimate reason motivating these protesters?

    It seems to me that what you are really objecting to is the underlying message. Ironically, your column is yet another example of white privilege.

  137. Mr. Brooks, as so often, has a distorted picture of early American history. The dominant model for the country was not that of the Puritans of New England (flawed as that model would have been), but that of Virginia and Carolina, with indentured servitude, slavery and a deeply ingrained systemic interplay between class and race. It is this social structure, carried more or less intact westward (hence the odd-looking electoral map), which has been far more influential over the course of our history than any other. "Traditional universal nationalism" and social "solidarity" have been far removed from our culture for most of our history.

  138. Mr Brooks,
    There are no bigger lies than than "One nation under God with liberty and justice for all". Football games are not national events they are a tribal clash and a far more appropriate display of loyalty might be standing for a recitation of Mark Twain's War Prayer.
    http://warprayer.org/
    Mark Twain knew what it really meant to be a patriot and his War Prayer is a distillation of what patriotism means to people who believe in democracy and the difference between us and people like yourself who wish to control everything.
    Most Americans never learned history, never learned who the founders were, never learned that the tyranny that led to the Boston Tea Party was the tyranny of a large corporation and weak government and that separation of church and state was to put us in charge because Godot simply is never showing up.

  139. Moe: not so much a tribal clash. Gladiatorial contests.

  140. and when i was a child in P.S. 61, manhattan it was," one nation, indivisible,with liberty and justice for all."

  141. Dream on, David, dream on.

  142. Now that's the David Brooks I know and disagree with.
    It's not like football players are holding their crotches and flipping the bird. They are respectfully not singing. Do you, Mr. Brooks, sing along with the national anthem when watching sports on TV? Or do you go to the bathroom and check your Twitter account?
    If you want the national anthem to be significant, you shouldn't insist on playing it and bowing to it at every sporting event. It's not that you are asking too much. You are trivializing it. Did you go to public school? Remember the Pledge? By 10th grade half the guys were making lewd gestures and most of the students were, at best, daydreaming. The Pledge became noise, a bunch of incoherent sounds. Repeating it thousands of times it didn't give it more meaning; meaning was taken away from it.
    Let the high school athletes do their thing. They are attempting to make a thoughtful statement. If they are forced by societal pressure to sing and unsingable song, it only numbs their minds that much more.
    This fad will pass, and your beloved song will eventually return to its beer-sponsored commercial-break glory.

    Ain't it nice to be white, ivy educated, and rich, and the problems that strike you as significant are whether or not high school football players are singing a song.

  143. "This American creed gave people a sense of purpose and a high ideal to live up to. It bonded them together. Whatever their other identities — Irish-American, Jewish American, African-American — they were still part of the same story."

    I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with this.

    African-Americans have never been part of the same story. While my German and Swiss forebears joined millions in voluntarily moving to this country, black Americans came here in chains as slaves. Once freed, they were subject to laws that were designed expressly to deprive them of their equal standing as citizens. And injustice continues to this day.

    Where Mr, Brooks sees a degradation of civic ritual, I see a quiet and dignified form of protest reminding us that the promise of America, a promise in which I very much believe myself, remains unfulfilled.

    Patriotism comes in many forms. Singing the national anthem is one, but insisting that America live up to its promise is another. The beauty of the American ideal is that we have a choice in how we express it.

  144. "Once freed, they were subject to laws that were designed expressly to deprive them of their equal standing as citizens."

    All too true, Matt. But ask yourself this: Why did they choose to stay? The door to America swing two ways. People are free to leave. America undoubtedly has her flaws, but we as a people do strive to correct them. Sometimes the efforts necessary to do so are painful... And you know, I may have missed something, but I don't recall reading of any pre- or post-emancipation mass departure or emigration of free America blacks to Liberia or any other African state... Why do you suppose that's never happened?

  145. "Many schools no longer teach American history, so students never learn the facts and tenets of their creed."

    Mr. Broooks, do they teach actual American history in hyperpatriotic Texas, where the Texas Board of Education has seenfit to bowdlerize textbooks to avoid mention of evolution and gays?

    As your colleague Gail Collins has written: " In 2009, the nation watched in awe as the state board worked on approving a new science curriculum under the leadership of a chair who believed that “evolution is hooey.” In 2010, the subject was social studies and the teachers tasked with drawing up course guidelines were supposed to work in consultation with “experts” added on by the board, one of whom believed that the income tax was contrary to the word of God in the scriptures."
    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2012/06/21/how-texas-inflicts-bad-textbo...

    Why should any child take educstion seriously when this is what is being peddled? The undermining of official American values, and skepticism about patriotism, is promoted through these actions.

    "There’s been a sharp decline in American patriotism. Today, only 52 percent of Americans are “extremely proud” of their country, a historical low."

    The war in Iraq ought also to seriously undermine a sense that our country is always right, egen when it's wrong. Or take the rise of Donald Trump, whose push toward hatred flies in the face of all who elevated our country beyond the blinders of Cotton Mather.

  146. Have you forgotten the period in our American history between the end of the Civil War and Brown v. Board of Education when you so called patriots were slaughtering and lynching their fellow Americans- the evangelism of ethnic nationalism? Refusing to stand up in support what those ethnic nationalists called the National Anthem is far more patriotic than standing and letting them feel empowered by the illusion of the victory of racism. Racism isn't defeated by romanticizing the struggle. Would you have survivors of the Shoah say, "Never Forget!" but don't remind anybody about it, it might wake them out of their dream world.
    I do hear what you want to say- a sort of "take one for the team" idea, extended into historical consciousness, but we need our youth show they are conscious and willing to say "NO!" to Trump's ethnic nationalism. And as an old-guy, I'm proud of what they're doing to bring long overdue attention to that other American religion: Hypocrisy?

  147. Brooks can't really believe this pie in the sky about Puritans and Lincoln, can he? Really? It's the phony story, the real story is running roughshod over a new land, thievery and fraud, slavery and capitalist waste.

    Patriotism is proud of a country's virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country's virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, "the greatest", but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is. - Sydney J. Harris, journalist and author (1917-1986)

  148. "There’s been a sharp decline in American patriotism."
    True.
    Much of it can be traced to a meeting held on 1/20/09 when Republicans met to put their party before country and obstruct the President.
    The decline picked up speed with their drumbeat of "Take our country back"
    Back from whom? Americans who don't look like them or have funny names?
    Republicans have clearly forgotten "All men (and women) are created equal"
    and "we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor"
    The GOP claims to love the Constitution, yet currently behave like King George III in 1776. Maybe they need to read the Declaration of Independence.
    Perhaps then they would notice that Trump, "whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people".

  149. Our anthem is self aggrandizing militarism, lousy music, and needs desperately to be replaced.

  150. I am a patriotic veteran. I believe in the American system, yet I see the flaws in our country and wish to help correct them. There's a fine line between patriotism and nationalism, which blinds people to the flaws. And in today's America, that fine line has become a chasm. It is not patriotic to plaster the American flag all over everything, using it as an advertising background and clothing pattern. To be so critical of someone exercising their freedom tells me that that freedom may be in danger.

  151. Phooey on all of this symbolism. Patriotism is DOING. It is contributing to the future of this country and the welfare of its citizens. Soldiers defend our sovereignty, policemen maintain civil order, and teachers educate the next generation and are a key ingredient in this nation's future. Ordinary people serve on boards of education, city councils, and are PTA presidents. The question to ask: What are YOU doing? Acquiring wealth for yourself is not patriotism, it is mere self-interest. Hear me, Mr. Trump?

  152. I agree with you about soldiers, police, teachers, nurses, etc. who earn much less than the value of what they provide to society. But what about career politicians such as Bill and Hillary, who come to Washington to do good and end up doing very well? At least Trump provided goods and services that others willingly exchanged their money for because those same consumers thought the products had more value than the purchase price (the very essence of capitalism). What, exactly, have the Clintons produced that entitles them to personal wealth in the tens of millions of dollars?

  153. The whittling away at the notion " we're all in this together " started under St. Ronnie, when policies were implemented which valued capital over labor emphasized with Ray-gun's breaking of the air controllers' union, buttressed with the decades-long push by conservatives to only teach in American history classes the things that will be tested, instead of the concepts of American history which had been taught by teachers for the couple of previous centuries.

    Americans feel detached from their country because they don't feel their vote has an effect on their Congress-person; Bruce Bartlett was correct in these pages that the only solution is enlarging the House, to dilute the effect of special interests, and restore the right's hallowed " Founders' Intent ":

    http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/07/enlarging-the-house-of-repr...

    which will make it too expensive for pressure groups and special interests to buy off.

    Merry old England, with its House of Lords, actually has more representatives now than our own little experiment in democracy, which was founded largely in protest against England's monarchical government style.

  154. The founders of our nation strongly believe loyalty oaths were a bad thing.

    We have taken this noble idea and turned it upon itself with this desire to have a public loyalty display before sporting events.

    There is nothing patriotic about sports. These games are games played for the entertainment of fans and for the massive amounts of money they generate for owners and players at the professional and major college level. At lower levels, they are said to be for school pride, teaching teamwork, or physical fitness. I do not recall anyone saying they are played for the good of our democracy.

    Refusing to stand for the national anthem does bring criticism and isolation from some segments of our nation. Mr. Brooks is right to point out the consequences. He is also correct that the American dream has been a beacon for the world.

    But that American dream is one that includes the right to peaceful protest of America's failure to live up to that dream. And marching in unison to patriotism is best done when the nation's very future is at risk, as it was during World War Two. Even then, Japanese Americans were not allowed to take part, having been gathered up, shipped off to "camps" and stripped of their possessions.

    Samuel Johnson is quoted as saying, "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

    There are a lot of scoundrels demanding mindless patriotism over the national anthem at sporting events.

  155. When my students ask what "whitesplainin'" means, I will be grateful that Mr. Brooks has provided the definitive example.

  156. Protesting is different from disrespect for our flag that means so much to me. Protest all you want elsewhere and at other times, not when our national anthem is sung at any gathering of patriots.

  157. Whati makes you think everyone at a football game is a patriot? A football game? Seriously?

  158. let it go, David.... this is a gross overreaction. People, especially young people, learn over time, based on their own experiences.
    The 'Pledge' every morning.... the 'Anthem' before every event.... it's overkill.
    I love my country and the people in it, but I blanche at the constant flag waving used to cover a wide variety of sins and sales.... enough.
    .... it's a free country... and that's good. Freedom allows people to develop in sincere ways that promote lasting integrity. I'm with Colin on this...

  159. As always, David, an excellent article.

    The thing is, if Kap hadn't taken a knee your article would not have been written and it wouldn't have me and others think anew about anthems in general.

    thanks. And thanks to Kap and Brandon Marshall too.

  160. Another point of view might suggest that we've had a crisis of solidarity in this country for a very long time. If I had been an enslaved person I would have seen the crisis certainly. And, if I had been denied the right to vote, while my husband and male relatives enjoyed that privilege, I would have seen the crisis. If I had been subject to unfair policies that kept me from educational opportunity, from home ownership, and from wealth accumulation I would have seen it. It's unfortunate that some people are just finally seeing the crisis this year. Maybe the football players can be credited with reminding a nation of the important work left undone.

  161. Good argument, Mr. Brooks. But I would counter that this kneeling protest is part of our culture of questioning and self-criticism. These people are not ignoring the anthem, or chatting or staring at their smartphones while it is played. They are thoughtfully and critically protesting.

  162. Mr. Brooks, you have spoken the truth here. My only quarrel with the article is the equating of being proud of your country and patriotism. I consider myself patriotic but am not proud of how the country seems to be evolving. I like what you said about Trump, and the need for more solidarity. We seem to have lost the ability to differ while maintaining a common national idea.

  163. Here's the new Pledge if Trump is elected:
    I pledge allegiance to the United States of Trump and to the Republicanism for which it stands, one nation, under Trump, divisible, with liberty and justice for ME and others just like ME.

  164. I see this "take a knee rather than stand up" form of protest as a rough equivalent of flag burning. Nobody gets hurt by kneeling or burning a piece of cloth.
    This European-American man (me) was married to an African-American women for a time. What an eye opener that was.
    We all may be in the same boat, but this boat has many compartments, a bilge, upper and lower decks, etc.

  165. David,
    Seriously calm down. Kaepernick has succeeded in getting people to talk. Unfortunately extremism has once again hijacked the discussion. Many in this country cannot seem to grasp the notion of disagreeing with a point of view but respecting someone's fundamental right to have that view. More importantly many are unable to grasp another basic concept: It is possible to both support black lives matter and law enforcement. That so few understand this is the real story here. A sad story indeed.

  166. What is so special about athletic competition that it must be preceded by singing the National Anthem? Why not sing it before watching a movie, or listening to a concert, or an opera? And how many people who rise to their feet, place their hand over their heart and proclaim patriotism in song, actually vote, or know the names of their Congressional representatives? My point being that sometimes enforced public displays of faith (invocations and benedictions) and patriotism, are insincere, rote exercises, and refusal to participate in them is a true sign of patriotism - an exercise of the very rights we cherish: the right of free speech and decent. Declining to stand for the National Anthem may not be a refutation of American ideals, but rather be a statement that the ideals and freedoms that are being honored have been withheld from too many of our fellow citizens. Proclaiming our exceptionalism includes acknowledging that America has written some dark chapters in history, has corrupted its political system with money, suffers from gross income inequality, imprisons more of its citizens than any other country in the world, remains the only industrialized democracy that still has the the death penalty, and continues to pollute the environment disproportionately. Ours is a wonderful country, but we cannot afford to be like the wicked queen asking "Mirror mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all?," while refusing to recognize the precancerous growth on her nose.

  167. High schoolers, when Brooks uses the word "counterproductive" he means"bad for my privileged status."

  168. "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."
    "Give me liberty or give me death."
    "No taxation without representation."
    Football players both high school and pro are acting in the best tradition of America the land of the free and the home of the brave.
    Bend your knee, Mr Brooks, in solidarity with peaceful radicalism directed at a worthy cause: equality under the law for all... even our black citizens.

  169. David misses the point. Taking a knee is a respectful protest that says, this is my country but it needs correcting. It is not at all equivalent to sitting on the bench. As for strengthening Trump's nationalism, yes, the protest feeds his narrative to an extent. But the protest Kaepernick started is the slightest foreshadowing of what will come if Trump is elected.

    Trump's strength comes from the rise of a Republican inspired neo-confederacy comprised of people who do not know, do not understand or outright reject the foundational precepts of the United States and the outcome of the Civil War that reinforced them.

    Kaepernick is a patriot. Donald Trump is not.

  170. Hey, I've got an idea. If athletes not standing for the national anthem upsets you, just leave the stadium or turn off your TV. You have the power to do so.

    Go read a book, take a walk in the woods, teach a kid how to fly a kite, cook a meal for an elderly shut-in, raise money for a worthy charity, play cards with the neighbors, mow the lawn, make some music, do a crossword puzzle, clean out your closets, change your oil, wash your car, go camping, call your mom, make love, buy yourself something nice, do something worthwhile.

    Watching sports is SO overrated, a brain dead act for brain dead people. It is a complete and utter waste of time. It accomplishes virtually nothing and does not make life better for anyone except millionaire athletes, owners of professional sporting teams, beer advertisers and gambling outfits.

    Seriously, get a life. Don't live vicariously through others and don't try telling people how to express their patriotism. It is a fool's errand and it won't work.

    PS: I can't believe David Brooks essentially said this: If you don't stand for the National Anthem, Donald Trump wins. That's the funniest thing I've heard in ages. That's great. You see how easy it is to do something productive. Keep 'em coming Dave. You should try doing a stand-up act sometime. Heaven knows we could use a little humor in our lives right about now.

  171. In the "big scheme of things" the sun will rise and set, the earth will rotate, the seasons will change, people will be born and die. Every day when the sun rises and sets there will be another lie from Trump, the Kochs will get richer, the seas will rise, some nut with a gun will kill an innocent person or two, conservatives will shrug their heads and do nothing and complain about a lack of patriotism and "American Values."
    Let Kaepernick kneel.Berating him is just another excuse to do nothing and contribute to the big lie.

  172. We do not play the national anthem at movies, nor at plays.

    We do not play the national anthem at restaurants, nor at the opera or ballet.

    We do not play the national anthem at museums or national parks.

    Why, then, do we play the national anthem at sporting events?

    Is it because sporting events are big money-making gatherings and the owners of sports teams get special anti-trust tax breaks, not-to-mention millions of dollars in revenue from ads by our military?

    The anthem itself was only proclaimed the national anthem around 1930, and only became regularly played at stadiums during WWII.

    And while the Declaration of Independence is our founding document, nobly proclaiming the equality of men, our Constitution, which allowed slavery and the 3/5 rule to appease the slave states, was our true body of law soon after independence was won.

    I doubt that American History is not taught in our schools. What I do wonder is just what sort of history is taught: the sanitized version that David fetishes about, or the actual truth?

  173. So, let's stop playing it at sporting events, agreed! But if it's played, one should stand, I feel. Not doing so signifies not protest about something specific - for who knows exactly why athletes are kneeling? - but a broad loathing. Is that the intention? If so, why should there be an expectation of acceptance of it by people who feel the opposite?

  174. I, too, was struck by Brooks's idea that American history is not being taught. Last year, I taught "American Lit. in a majority Hispanic-American public school. We read the essential documents of the Founding Fathers and LIncoln, as well as Jonathan Edwards, Frederick Douglas, and Tomas Rivera. My associates in Social Studies taught US History; the teachers were Hispanic, Caucasian, and African-American. My guess is that this curriculum is more the norm than Brooks's vague ideas about the subject not being taught. Also, Brooks needs to go back to school to learn the difference between the Puritans' "Errand into the Wilderness" (Perry MIller), and the Enlightenment values of the majority of our founders. He conflates the two sets of beliefs--must be listening to the school reform crowed again.

  175. @DLP: I do not agree with Colin's failure to stand. I do not think it is worth the backlash. I do defend Colin's right to kneel, though.

  176. Nobody misuses and abuses the idea of patriotism more than the world's right-wing authoritarian regimes, always careful to plant a giant waving flag on their demolition sites as they bulldoze the common good in the name of nativism and "free-dumb".

    That's why America's annual football Super Bowl is drenched in flags and murderous military fighter jets every year, a proven technique at keeping the hypnotized masses steeped in the virtues of gratuitous violence for profit....while the national treasury is simultaneously raided for war toys and billionaire Christmas gifts.

    Joseph Stalin was a master at stoking Russian patriotism while perfecting his tyrannical, psychopathic cult of personality and crushing the idea of civil rights in the Russian Motherland.

    Vladimir Putin reincarnates the patriotic spirit of Stalin to great detriment to the Russian economy and its people.

    We all remember how patriotism was the guiding principle of the Bush-Cheney Iraq catastrophe that created ISIS.

    One of the real forms of patriotism is paying one's fair share of taxes - or paying any taxes for that matter - a patriotic idea that the Republican Party is categorically opposed to, preferring instead to bankrupt its own country with 'no new taxes'.

    And now of course, the Republican Party offers as its standard bearer a man who likely pays zero income taxes - isn't that patriotic ?

    "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism", as Howard Zinn said.

    Keep kneeling.

    Keep dissenting, America.

  177. Brooks's point is that it is human nature to congregate in groups. The "nation" represents the most inclusive of those groups because it has to potential to transcend ethnic and racial differences. Forsaking national symbols erodes that power. The resulting vacuum is easily filled by nativist interests. Kneeling in front of a symbol of unity - because the flag IS specifically a symbol of unity (civil war ring a bell?) is a confused action and sends a confusing message. There are more apt institutions to attack to make your point. And deep inside, you know that.

  178. Of the many flaws with the logic behind this column is the most obvious one. Brooks refuses to confront the REASON why people are protesting. Kaepernick addressed this as a lack of equal justice in America in the manner in which the police and the courts deal deal with minorities. Brooks instead white washes this as being "unhappy with the ways things are going in America." Of course Brooks is afraid to give his opinion. Is he ok with the police shooting first at unarmed blacks without clear evidence of danger? Do police have the right to eliminate all risk from their jobs by shooting to kill at the slightest hint of danger?

    Brooks suggests that the protests are counter productive because they create "barriers between Americans." So is it that blacks must not anger whites by not standing for the flag? Might something get done to improve policing if blacks were to stand as required? Brooks' column is evidence that whites such as himself don't really care about the black issue.

    Patriotism is more than standing for the flag, wearing a flag pin or putting a flag on one's lawn. It is more a willingness to do something for one's country. Mostly to sacrifice for one's country. But what are all these flag standing people willing to sacrifice for America? Don't hear much about that. More likely complaints that our country has not done enough for them. Thus the appeal of Trump. Ask not what you can do for your country. Instead complain that your country is not doing enough for you.

  179. Very well said, expressing my thoughts as well. It's unfortunate that there aren't more of us.

  180. But reverence of the heart is different from that of appearance, Mr Brooks.

    People are so obsessed with appearance these days - like is Trump's hair real or not, by disregarding he has faked everything else in heart, spirit and business practices - that some even criticized why Mrs Obama didn't put her hand over her heart, never mind she has done more for America than many blow-hard conservatives.

    Besides, while Mr Kaepernick's original sitting down might have been more casual for some, kneeling is as good a gesture standing to show the solemnity of the kids' conviction.

    Back in the 60s, black athletics raised their fists to demonstrate injustice - and they got punished for it. Not anymore, human right proceeds national pride. If you take pride in America, Mr Brooks, you should do what you can to make it a more perfect union - and not hanging onto to conservative orthodoxy that is thoroughly bankrupted

  181. sorry. a few typos :)

  182. We do have a crisis of solidarity. It used to be you put your country first (I am an American) and everything else came second (your state, your previous nationality, where you came from, your political party or your ideology) and every immigrant who goes through the citizenship pledge states the same. These days, when one asks a fellow American, they are more likely to use some other label to describe themselves. However, part of America and American history is the right to assemble and redress of grievances (4th amendment). As a veteran, I have no problem with the kneeling or other forms of protest. I fought for that right but at the same time, they, the protestors, need to acknowledge that they are Americans first. It is an argument I rarely hear from the protestors.

  183. What could be more patriotic than paying tax to support all the benefits of a safe , civil, and just society? I'm betting you dollars to donuts Mr. Kaepernick has paid his. Paid his tax on the income he earns in a risky, physically dangerous, potentially short-lived occupation that generates a boat-load of money for advertisers and team owners, vendors, floggers of those shirts they're burning...... Mr. Kaepernick is a Patriot and a job creator and a dreamer. No one gave him a venue and surrogates to incite a crowd to put a former Senator and Secretary of State in front of a firing squad, or whip up a basket of less than admirables to punch out quiet black student protestors. Did any of that free speech irritate you?
    Mr. Brooks, your tepid attempt to delegitimize one man's 1st Amendment right is absurd. Counterproductive? Or just making white sports fans uncomfortable? We use the tools we have to create a better world. The flag will survive.

  184. I grew up at time when we said the pledge of allegiance every morning at school. I served my country in combat in Vietnam, not because I believed in the reason for the war, but because it was my duty. That said, I can understand why young people might not believe in the country's values, even if they did know them. We have a political system that has been allowed to become a tool for the rich and powerful, more than ever. A president who was elected by over 5 million votes receives no respect from a congress that is a function of gerrymandered districts conceived and funded by oligarchs who want to control the country without running for office. On many topics such gun control, immigration reform and Zika the country wants reasonable legislation, but congress refuses to act despite wide spread public support. Republicans are seeking to diminish our country in favor of state control of all but military matters. The young people are sending a signal. Is anyone listening? Lecturing them on values that our legislative leaders don't follow is not convincing.

  185. Good advice, David.....but I wonder why you didn't include Mr. Kaempernick among those you address. He could stand and sing too. Then, like MLK, he could take to his bully pulpit, which by virtue of his blackness and NFL Quarterback-ness he surely has, and passionately tell us of his concerns about equality, like MLK.

    He is making the same mistake as #BLM who alienate the very people they need to make the changes we all need.

  186. American Citizenship Matters

  187. If you really want to be patriotic then serve
    In the military or the police or civil service
    Work or give time to a real charity that actually does things for real people

    The rest is just posturing

  188. How can David Brooks write a column about kaepernick glossing over structural racism in America? These high schoolers are participating in a time honored democratic tradition of peaceful protest against injustice. David, these high schoolers don't need your condescending stories about the puritans (somehow you forgot about Slavery in your history lesson). They are woke, using their visible positions to peacefully critique our countries racist past and present. As a white Republican man you're not in a great position to criticize black teenagers protesting racism. Try listening instead of lecturing.

  189. What have we come to if challenging conformity through a symbolic public gesture threatens to strengthen Donald Trump's ethnic nationalism? It seems to me that these gestures are intended to generate public debate—which has many positive aspects. Non-violent protest is a more important part of Dr. King's legacy than the fact that he sang the national anthem before his most memorable speech.

    The more interesting question is why such displays bear so much of the weight of conservative critique. I would suggest it is because they are easy targets. If voters use Mr. Kaepernick to justify voting for Trump, what, really, does it have to do with Kaepernick?

    We do have a crisis of solidarity. Conformity isn't the answer. Football may be religion to some. But sport is just politics without consequences. Mr. Trump's active appeals to our baser instincts are more deserving of moral judgement.

  190. David, it seems the problem you point out may be best solved by everyone joining in kneeling at the national anthem rather than excluding those who feel compelled to do so. Throughout time, has there been any greater sign of reverence for a body incorporate than kneeling or bowing? For all races and creeds to joining in a kneeling moment of reverence for a civic bond may be the best chance of restoring shared national identity.

  191. MLK knelt to the ground on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma during the historic peaceful Bloody Sunday March.
    A gesture of reverence and surrender to something greater than oneself.
    It is the epitome of peaceful protest.

  192. Brooks's argument boils down to: "America: love it or leave it."

  193. As it should be.

  194. "...that all men are created equal" except those 3/5 of a people who have black skin and are slaves.
    "Segregation now, segregation forever" as Wallace stands in the doorway of the university.
    Today, we have a candidate whose bigotry, racism, and total lack of integrity and moral values is near enough to the presidentcy that it should frighten everyone but doesn't. It doesn't frighten those who believe people of color are 2nd class. Nor does it frighten those who believe people from other countries who speak foreign languages and worship other than the so-call Christian god.
    My ancestors on both sides came to this country in 1638. They would want me to be patriotic. But I hope that they also will understand why I never say the pledge because, over a long life-time, I've seen how corrupt "justice for all" has been interpreted.
    I will stand for the Anthem. But I will be proud of those who kneel instead.

  195. The Puritans "filled the air with angry jeremiads about how badly things were going and how much they needed to change." Is that not what peaceful, non-violent protest during moments of society's self-congratulatory reverence are precisely? MLK combined the reverence and critique. So to did Lincoln, but with violence to back the critique. Why are African-American teenagers supposed to be limited to passive reverence to a society in which they fill endangered in their daily lives?

  196. They could always use their other form of protest, you know, burning and looting their own neighborhoods, instead of disrespecting the flag, and thereby, those who died so these 'poor souls' could protest at all.

  197. But why do they feel endangered. One of their teammates is over 200 times more likely to kill or injure them than a police officer.

  198. Mr. Brooks, where was your outrage when Republicans showed their shared "displays of irreverence" against John Kerry, an American who went to Vietnam, was shot and received a Purple Heart? This is a war that Trump sat out because he said he had bone spurs. This is a war that W Bush managed to avoid by not actually going to Vietnam, a war that Cheney had "better things to do" when asked by Congress why he didn't serve. And yet, your fellow Republicans showed their patriotism by wearing "Purple Heart" band-aids at the 2004 convention.

    However crass and unpatriotic that was, I still think they had the right to do that.

    But then there were those "Swifboaters."

    From using 9/11 as a form of patriotism, from using American veterans as a prop, even using New York as a prop for their convention in 2004, a place that Republicans continually denigate as un-American, from calling the first black president a birther and denying he was born in America (a movement which your nominee led), and even for calling Americans who were against the invasion of Iraq unpatriotic, you and your party have cherry-picked what YOU decide is patriotic and what isn't.

    I support the right of my fellow Americans to take a knee during a football game.

    It's their right based on the First Amendment.

    I think it's patriotic.

    Now, why don't you do something truly patriotic and tell your fellow Republicans not to vote for Trump, a wildly unqualified, unfit nominee for President of these United States.

  199. Good letter, V. But you overlook a key point:

    John Kerry's Purple Hearts are trivial compared to the Silver Star and Bronze Star with V he was awarded for heroism under hostile fire. Yet the Republicans set out to slime and smear his distinguished record. They conned so many Americans into believing their lies that Kerry lost the election, and America paid a horrible price for the economic and foreign-policy failures of Bush-Cheney.

    Now Republicans are trying the same number against Mrs. Clinton. The Clinton Foundation has done nothing but good works. But by endless repetition of dark innuendo, the Republicans try to convince the public that "there's something sinister there". This election is a test of the gullibility of the American people.

  200. When is David going to stop supporting the racist Republican party and leave?

  201. David, sometimes the exception proves the rule.

    That the Pledge and the National Anthem are important rituals solidifying American identity, is what makes them a platform for silent, but very apparent, protest.

    That never seemed in question for me. I'd approach a young person in terms of the difference between the aspirations of a nation, and the reality of a nation. Since my upbringing in the Jim Crow south, I've stood for the aspirations of the nation.