Saturday, September 23, 2017

Countries Around The World Protest National Anthems. Here's A List.

The choice to sit, kneel, boo, raise a fist, or any other form of protest during your country's national anthem is not as unusual, or uniquely American, as NFL comment feeds would lead us to believe. 

Following is a brief list of anthem protests in other countries. The reasons are varied, from ideological fault with the lyrics to offense by the composer to issue with the country's social systems. As with all protests, public sentiment is divided. 

These international anthem protests have at least one thing in common: they occur in countries that value freedom of speech. 

Notable countries that did not make this list include the Philippines, where failure to sing with gusto could lead to imprisonment (and capital punishment without trial is the new normal), North Korea (where political prison camps are full of people who have no idea what they did to get there), China, where refusal to stand solemnly means detention, at minimum, and India, where perceived disrespect toward the anthem could lead to years in prison

Once we establish national anthem protest as a valid expression of free speech in a healthy democracy, perhaps we can move on to discuss the real issues behind these protests.

1. Switzerland: where the German-sourced Swiss Psalm was voted out for a version that can be sung in all four national languages

Swiss soccer players, not singing the national anthem
2. Germany: where some just hum the national anthem for fear of being too patriotic, or giving credence to a past of Nazi nationalism, which led to the first and second verses being struck from public recognition. 

3. England: where a desire to identify apart from Scotland and Wales could inspire the British to boo "God Save the Queen," until England gets its own national anthem. 

Jeremy Corbyn, British politician, not singing "God Save the Queen"
4. Australia: where indigenous citizens and high-profile athletes protest the racist undertones of "Advance Australia Fair." 

5. France: where booing the national anthem is a form of protest against divisive social classes and racial unrest. 

6. Spain: where Catalans and Basques regularly whistle or boo the national anthem as a bid for independence.  

Catalonian protest during Spain's national anthem

Americans, let us not align with the punitive false patriotism of countries who suppress free speech in favor of silence and outward reverence. 

For those who have a different race reality than what our national anthem and ideals represent, it's time to dialogue about why that is, and what to do about it.

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