The 2016 UEFA European Championship: I was struck with the team from Iceland. This team made it to the quarterfinals, finally losing to host nation France. Iceland has a population of some 330,000 people. It was reported that up to ten percent of the island’s population were attending the team’s matches in France. When the team returned to Iceland from their eventual defeat to France, they were greeted by what seemed to be the entire population of the island.
A real feel-good story. Which caused me to reflect: why feel good about this display of national pride?
I suspect every person in Iceland has not more than one or two people in between them and a player on the team. A community, happily cheering for people with whom there is a personal connection; like cheering for your child, your cousin, or your friend from gymnasium.
In other words, a nation in the healthiest sense of the word. Unfortunately, there are not too many countries that offer such a possibility: decentralization to the point where nation, country, and state correspond much closer to natural relationships.
Today’s example is to be found in American football: American football – like most American sports – cannot be separated from the military. Every game includes some honor or another to or regarding the military: from a presentation to a “wounded warrior,” to a flyover, to the home team wearing camouflage-style jerseys. People cheer louder for the military and for flag worship than they do for a touchdown.
An American football player decides not to stand for the national anthem. He has apparently done this before, but it is only now news. The reaction was (only verbally, so far) violent: how dare he disrespect the troops! Except he didn’t. His protest was against the treatment of minorities in America; he could not stand for the anthem or flag of such a country. But to the masses, “nation” (as represented by the anthem) equals military and state. This player disrespected the troops, no matter what he says.
The semi-thoughtful commentators (as opposed to the totally ignorant) were able to process this distinction: “thank God he didn’t disrespect the troops.” Translations: it is OK to protest over an SJW cause, “just don’t protest about the troops”; “they fight and die for us to have the freedom to protest.” This passed for thoughtful commentary.
The even more thoughtful offered: if we cannot remain seated for the anthem, what does that say about America. Totalitarian governments demand such things, not us!
Let’s see if they say such things when someone refuses to stand for the troops. Because protesting regarding the police treatment of dark-skinned people in the US is acceptable; protesting regarding the US military treatment of dark-skinned people in other countries…well…we know the answer.
As one talking mouthpiece said: “I don’t know a single person who doesn’t support the troops.” To which I say, move to Iraq, Syria, Libya, or Afghanistan. See how you feel about it then.
Or, stop by here, here, and here once a day: it will be physically much safer, but intellectually and emotionally crushing.
Iceland. Given the size and relative cohesiveness of the population, one place where I envision the possibility of country, nationalism, and state reasonably co-existing: a possibility for healthy, all-encompassing patriotism.
In a place like the United States? Patriotism equals a sickly self-identification with international murderers and criminals; it also means crucifixion for those who don’t go along. Pathological.