Yankees shouldn’t define patriotism

29 04 2009

As if the pomp and circumstance revolved around the opening of Yankee Stadium couldn’t get any more absurd, a story from The Stadium last week burnt me more than the sun did on Saturday.

Bradford Campeau-Laurion, 30, sued the Yankees recently after he was kicked out of The [Holy] Stadium by stadium security for leaving his seat to go to take a leak during the singing of “God Bless America” during an Aug. 26 game last year. The Yankees’ stadium has changed, but the same can’t be said for their arrogance. Of course, the Yankees countered by stating that the man was too intoxicated and began acting surly. To which the man said he wasn’t too drunk and simply wanted to leave his seat. The Yanks also added that a rule had been added stating that those in attendance must observe a rule of standing and observing “God Bless America.” Talk about as far from democratic as you can get.

It’s not for me to speculate which side is speaking closer to the truth. What I can do is to opine on why a team — an organization — would make people stand for a song, why doing that is an act of patriotism. 

Patriotism is one of those terms that gets thrown around loosely — like “great” when talking about an athlete, or “porn-quality” when talking about  a Hooters waitress — and everyone wants to get in on the act. 9/11 inspired many people to become more “patriotic,” but it was never clear quite what that represented. In a country in which nearly 300 million people call home, it would seem quite obvious that people have different ways of acting “patriotic.” 

For me, acting like a patriot doesn’t mean observing a song. It doesn’t mean wearing red, white and blue clothes, or sticking an American flag on my car. 

To me, it means living my life with dignity and unselfishness, by working hard and being honest. You know, the way our founding fathers intended it. Maybe there’s not a specific way to identify whether someone observes those ideals, but I feel like any reasonable person knows it when he or she sees it. 

For the Yankees to put their stamp on what “patriotism” is — and to penalize those who don’t observe it their way — is a real shame. Is it not enough that the Yankees’ shiny new $1 billion-plus stadium was largely funded by taxpayers?

Some might say that people like me need to get off our moral high-ground, but I don’t see it that way. I just think that people should be able to define for themselves how they feel they want to honor their country. If a person needs to get up for a national song to go to the bathroom (and this is a person who could perhaps live their life in every way intended by our country’s founders), then I say, let that person free.

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