In a column that is heavy on outrage, but short on reading comprehension, Caiden Cowger laments that the members of the Huntington Higlanders girls high school basketball team did not place their hands over their hearts during the national anthem at the West Virginia AAA Girl’s Basketball State Championship. This despite the fact that these young athletes were all standing upright with their arms neatly folded behind their backs.
In an attempt to bolster his very bold, principled, and courageous stance against well-mannered teenagers disciplined and talented enough to play in (and win) their State Basketball Championship, Cowger compared this incident to the one involving Gabby Douglass who was maligned on social media and forced to apologize after she too did not place her hand over her heart during the national anthem at the recent Olympics in Brazil.
Cowger also cites, in bolded, 20pt font, the U.S. Code provision on the national anthem as thou it were binding authority on conduct and decorum during the national anthem. He states “[i]t is presently unclear if this was a deliberate demonstration to disrespect the flag, or ignorance of the official U.S. Flag Code.”
It is not these girls who are demonstrating ignorance.
36 U.S.C. §301 is very clearly and very simply guidance about what one should do during the national anthem, not a mandate on what conduct is required. The language in the statute says as much. If the recommendations in the statute were mandatory as Cowger suggests, the millions of people checking their cell phones, talking to their friends, or otherwise not standing upright with their hands over their hearts during the national anthem would have been in BIG TROUBLE™.
Furthermore, so what if these young athletes did not deliberately place their hands over their hearts during the national anthem? This obsession with forced participation in nationalistic rituals is the antithesis of the ideals of a democratic republic, an irony that is often lost on fascist-lite “Muricans” like Caiden Cowger. Sad.