After a series of tweets from President Trump, the national debate is raging over NFL players’ decisions not to stand during the national anthem. While some may view the actions these players are taking as insulting to the flag, and country, no one should be advocating for making disrespecting the national anthem a crime.
Making patriotism mandatory, and criminalizing those who do not participate, is not something that should be done in a free country.
The Founders never would have approved of such an action. In fact, many would likely oppose the profligacy of the national anthem seen today. As they weren’t particularly enthused about a strong federal government to begin with, their “patriotism” and sense of civic identity would more attach to their respective states.
Such practices only belong in totalitarian states like communist China.
It is now a crime to disrespect the national anthem in communist China
Questioning the state is always a crime in countries where that power should be questioned. Authoritarian regimes often attempt to link patriotism with government in order to make criticizing either more difficult. China is merely the latest in a long line of communist countries to make disrespecting the national anthem a crime.
Anyone who mocks China’s national anthem faces up to 15 days in police detention after parliament criminalized such acts in a new law on Friday. Worse, the law also covers Hong Kong and Macau, which have been historically accorded much higher levels of freedom of speech.
The law bans its use as background music and in advertisements, rules out playing it at funerals and on other “inappropriate occasions” and prescribes administrative detention for any “distorted” or “mocking” renditions.
Those attending public events must stand to attention and sing in a solemn manner when the anthem is played.
These measures are merely the latest in a long line of human rights restrictions enacted by the communist Chinese government. This time, mandatory respect for the Chinese national anthem also applies to the city-states of Hong Kong and Macau, which had until recently operated under a more laissez faire “one country, two systems” policy.
Disrespecting the anthem or desecrating the flag should not be a crime
The United States was not founded on forced patriotism and unquestioning loyalty, and modern-day Americans should not desire such policies Without the freedom of choice or free agency, we would indeed have very little to be patriotic about.
(Photo of the People’s Republic of China flag on top of the Museum of the Chinese Revolution, Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China via Getty Images)