LETTER TO THE EDITOR: “Conform or Else!”

By Rev. Barry Abraham Zavah Alpine

The NFL announced a policy requiring players on the sideline to stand for national anthem, but if opposed, remain in the locker room. Ouch!

The uselessness is patent. It contradicts the principle of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, a 1943 SCOTUS decision that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment protects students from being forced to salute the American flag or say the Pledge of Allegiance in public school. Barnette is remembered for its forceful defense of free speech and constitutional rights generally as being placed “beyond the reach of majorities and officials.”

At the time it wasn’t clear the Allies would prevail. Wouldn’t that be the time for an “all hands on deck” approach to patriotism? Our enemies were opposed to our liberal, democratic way of life.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court understood better than to surrender our principles in dire times! Amen, too when the Bill of Rights is understood by those who claim to LUV the original intent of the Founding Fathers.

Compelled conformity is today’s Pharisees on steroids. How utterly devoid of sincerity, meaning or piety is this charade of anything remotely patriotic? Love of country? Upon what or whose debased definition?

Pseudo patriotism makes a mockery of our God-given free-will. It despoils the symbolic meaning of the flag and betrays the work of those who provided us with an enlightened constitution for a new nation’s framework.

A patriotic or religious act or gesture; when forced by convention, policy or law, carries less meaning than a POW’s tortured confession. It has no enduring reverence in the hearts and minds of unwilling participants much less captors gaining a news conference. Those made to participate in ‘conform or else!’ know that to be so – as do the Inquisitor Pharisees.