Forced Patriotism

During Sunday’s ballgame, my wife gave me a weird look. That in itself is not an uncommon thing. I am who I am, so it comes up regularly. But I got this look during the 7th Inning Stretch. I was apparently grimacing or furrowing or something.
I have always been bad at concealing my feelings. The look on my face or my posture instantly gives away my opinion on a current subject. It makes my wife’s job of reading my mind most of the time much faster and easier. You’re welcome, honey.

M asked me why I was angry. I told her that I was sick of this false, forced patriotism. The middle of the seventh should be devoted to singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and standing in line for the bathroom.

But no. After the choir of grade schoolers finished “Take Me Out” (apropos), another woman came out to sing “God Bless America”. That was when I started getting annoyed.

Aside from the lyrics being trite, why are we bothering to do this? Because we started it after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Fine. It’s been over eight years. We don’t need another reminder that we were attacked and to reaffirm our allegiance to the United States.

I have spent two hours sitting and watching a game of baseball being played in the middle of the North America continent. Is there any doubt where I could be? I have eaten food born from four cultures in two days. Where else does that happen?

Let baseball be baseball, let everything else that surrounds us be great and plentiful, and let the fact of our location be implied. Even when I sat in the freezing wind of a rugby pitch in England, I didn’t go, “Oh no! Where am I? I better check my passport and make sure I didn’t go Brit.” I loved enjoying that game as a part of their culture, just as I love our game as a part of ours.

I don’t need reminders that a) I’m in America, b) people died so we’re singing this stupid song, c) I’m not a believer in half of the lyrics, and d) we’re in the midst of poorly guided wars. Let me watch my baseball, even if the Twins are playing like fools, and forget the fact that bad things are going on.

Then “God Bless the U.S.A.” came over the loudspeakers.

I’ll bet I looked like a kid who just got told he couldn’t have a second helping of ice cream. If “God Bless America” is trite, this song is all-out asinine. Before the game began, there was a high school marching band roaming around the warning track playing Sousa marches, for crying out loud. Is this garbage really necessary?

I pity anyone who has to sit through that nonsense for every game.

Oh, and as any writer or drug addict can tell you: excessive use diminishes effect.