Friday, July 2, 2010

Incident at Citi Field -- A Reflection for the 4th

We sat a little higher and closer to home plate. And stadium was just about full. 
But is is a pretty good representation of the view we had Sunday.

Last Sunday, a scorching hot day, we went to see the Mets play the Minnesota Twins in an Inter-league game at Citi Field in Flushing, Queens. (Real long subway ride from where we were in Manhattan.) For those of you who don't know baseball, come the 7th inning, it's traditional for everybody in the stands to get out of their seats for a little while. Most places I've been, the crowd sings "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," or listens to the organ play something obnoxious or undergoes some other diversion that's been devised by the owners to "entertain" the multitudes that don't know anything about baseball and who come out to the park to eat overpriced food, drink overpriced drinks and beer, watch a few innings of baseball in between their trips to the concession stands. It's a baseball tradition: the "seventh inning stretch."

Well, when the bottom of the 7th rolled around at Citi Park, the crowd was instructed to stand, remove their caps or hats and join in singing "God Bless America." Now wait a second, didn't the beginning of the game already require everybody to stand, remove their caps or hats, and join in singing The National Anthem (and even placing your hand on your heart like you were burying a loved one or paying obeisance to some Ottoman sheik?) OK, I've heard of this and even seen it once or twice before on TV, but I'd never actually encountered it. What to do? Well, I kept my Rangers cap on my head and I did not rise and I did not sing. This is not any different from what I do with all overt shows of patriotism. I don't feel compelled to make outward manifestations of patriotism. Or patriotism so-called. I haven't for years. Naturally, some yahoo who was leaving the game a few moments later after the thousands had implored the deity in song to bless the country, told me on his way down the stairs to "take off your hat and stand up." He looked to be mid-20s or so. I just looked at him in response to his glare.

I cannot help but think about the inevitable repression that's coming when I see what a to-do is made about the flag, about overt and ostentatious shows of patriotism, about "supporting the troops," etc., etc. We in this country have been undergoing a slow steady militarization of our society for many years. It's now reaching its apex. Every time you turn around now, it seems, we witness yet another demonstration of "support for the troops." Once a society starts deifying the military, it's in trouble. You heard it here first. Same goes for the flag. I know of no other society in the world where people feel it necessary to fly the national flag over used car lots.
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