Here I Go Again, Here They Go Again

Lunden Rowlett

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Can people take a joke? Can people just learn that this is life? It isn’t fair! We can’t all get our way! And if I can’t, why should you?

The pledge of allegiance has been exactly what it’s always been for years, and it’s not as if it ever hurt anyone. There are bigger problems in the world, honestly. Global warming people!

The pledge is a declaration of our country’s freedom, of our ability to run an efficient democracy, be strong, be proud, and be free! By God, we’re free!

The first amendment states our right to the freedom of speech, press, and peaceful protest, and yet when football players take knees as the rest of the country places hands  upon hearts, they are not only frowned upon worldwide, but they are ridiculed, made fun of, and they lose money! How a football player could lose money for anything, save for having broken a leg or a law, I will never understand.

When Colin Kaepernick took a knee that night, on Aug. 25, 2016, during the national anthem, he set off a national protest. Students all over the world stopped chanting along with the pledge, stopped humming the tune of our pledge of allegiance, and started questioning the truth of the fourth of July.

“You’re an American. Start acting like one.” A sign held up by football fans says.

Act like what American? What type? Which one, with which privileges? One who hasn’t been held down,  held back by race, religion, sexual orientation, or poverty? Those are the kinds of Americans who wrote the anthem, anyway.

Francis Scott-Key was born into wealth on a plantation, like many of our famous Americans were, and was a slave owner, like many of our famous Americans were. Though he owned slaves, he was quoted to have said that the system of slavery was “full of sin and a bed of torture.”

This such hypocrisy is blatantly apparent throughout many of our country’s laws and regulations, and can also be found in its song.

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

Thus reads the lyrics of the third verse of The Star Spangled Banner that many people haven’t heard, and don’t know an inkling about. Singing a song that you don’t completely know is like signing an agreement you haven’t entirely read. It’s ignorant, and it’s wrong.

Thankfully, this verse could easily be interpreted as the author pointing out the irony of our country’s claim to fame (although it could just as easily be him endorsing the blind deceit of it all), and singing the first verse isn’t physically hurting anyone the way fracturing an innocent’s spine or shooting an unarmed man is, although in principle, it’s just as awful.

This isn’t to shame anyone, or to say that living in America isn’t better than living in maybe Egypt, or Syria, and I’m thankful for the opportunities and privileges that I do have. I’m just saying that this world, that we—us and those before us—have created isn’t nearly as pure or as perfect as we may think. We can still make (and take, thank you) our jokes, and it’s very apparent that life isn’t fair. Just compare inner city Baltimore to this little sanctuary we call Bel Air. We all may not be heard and we may not all get our way. But… As for my way, equal opportunities for all minorities (and majorities!)… It’s worth fighting for. And I will never stop fighting for it.

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Here I Go Again, Here They Go Again