Monday, April 5, 2010


Before you read any further, take out a piece of paper and write down the words to our

National Anthem. I'll wait...

How did you do? Did you miss any of the words? Did you find it hard to remember the

first verse? Did you have to stop to think about what to write?

The majority of Americans cannot call to mind something as basic to being an American

as the first verse of our National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner. This, in spite of the fact

you cannot attend a sporting event or other public event without the song being played. The

poetry of Francis Scott Key eludes them.

Last week, Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, opened their college baseball season with

a doubleheader against the Sierra Heights Saints. According to the New York Times, for the

first time in school history, the National Anthem was played before the game. A person might

ask themselves, why is that? Goshen is a college founded by Mennonites. Mennonites

descended from the same Christian roots as the Amish, but adopted and adapted to modern

convention unlike their Amish brethren. One thing, however, the Mennonite faith did not

compromise is a faith in pacifism based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. So, until last week,

games at Goshen started with a team huddle and nothing else.

Historically, school administrators and students believed the words to the U.S. National

Anthem glorified and celebrated war, a view which has caused unnecessary violence and the

deaths of millions of people. Goshen has about one thousand students, almost half of which

are not Mennonites. The non-Mennonite students began to press for the playing of the anthem

before games. The debate, going on for a number of years, culminated in a decision by the

college president to play the music but not the words. a sort of concession, after

the anthem was played, those in attendance were asked to recite the Peace Prayer of

St. Francis of Assisi. Trust the Mennonites not to make compromises of this sort without a

significant dividend.

Non-Mennonite students cheered the decision and reminded other students that the flag,

the anthem, and the freedom they represent are what made this country great and are what

gives us the freedom to believe and pray to whomever we wish. Very nice, but there is a

problem with their logic: most Americans can't remember the words to their National

Anthem. The reason the tradition of playing it before sports events began was a response to

the rise of totalitarianism and communism in the Soviet Union. After September 11th, 2001,

the singing of God Bless America was added to major league baseball's Seventh Inning Stretch.

Apparently, Americans were not only amazed the flag was still standing, but also believe that

God was responsible.

As counterpoint to all the "feel-good" flag-waving and the mouthing of words we can't

remember, some passionately cry out that "patriotism" is the last refuge of scoundrels. They

say more harm has been done in the name of "patriotism" in this country than by almost any

other concept. "Patriotism" led to the Mexican War and the annexation of vast tracks of land

that once belonged to Mexico. It led to the genocide of the Native American people cloaked as

a love of country. It led to a bitter Civil War divided equally between those wanting both to

preserve and destroy our union. It led to the U.S. taking the last of Spain's overseas colonies.

Worse still, "patriotism" led to numerous laws restricting the very freedoms we at one

time worshipped: President John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, making

it a crime to criticize the government or the president because it could harm the country.

Japanese-Americans were put in camps because of the fear that some might possibly not be

loyal Americans. The 1950's brought the imposition of loyalty oaths, blacklists, and witch

hunts due to the "red scare". The Patriot Act (ironic name, don't you think?) was passed by

Congress just days after September 11th redefined every American citizen as a potential

terrorist. Telecom companies illegally spied on their customers, couching themselves as

patriotic Americans acting on President Bush's request. Americans who opposed the Vietnam

War, the Gore in the Gulf, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were attacked because of

their opinions and were branded as unpatriotic.

But who am I to talk? Simply a person that was told to leave the country because of my

criticism of the Bush Administration's lies. These lies were quickly exposed; but being right

doesn't improve people's view of how much you love your country.

Now, let's go back to the Mennonites at Goshen College. Despite a noble history of

weathering criticism, despite suffering persecution, despite threats of violence and actual

violence against them for their convictions about war and, in particular, wars of aggression

by any country, they had to compromise. They believe it is impossible to claim to be a

Christian, to follow Jesus's command to turn the other cheek, love your enemy, forgive an

infinite number of times, and then support the organized killing of human beings; but to

maintain good relations, they've given in.

We can debate the value and pragmatism of pacifism and we can debate how one puts

into practice their Christian faith. There is no debate, however, about the nature of the

National Anthem. It glorifies war, killing, and the view that defending or advancing your

country's values, including the evil of imperialism, justifies the use of force. Despite hearing

the song hundreds of times, most Americans can't remember all the words of the first verse;

so it's ludicrous to suggest that by simply playing the National Anthem before a baseball game

that a love of country will well up in the common heart of America.

Goshen College stood out as a place putting its beliefs into action. Their refusal to play

the anthem made people think. The college took the easy, white-bread kind of "love of

country" most Americans hold; and challenged it by simply not going along. Ideally, attending

a sporting event at Goshen might have caused a person to ask why the Mennonites weren't

playing the anthem before their games before this current change in policy. It might even

have caused a person to reflect on the Mennonite world view, so as to contrast and compare

them with our own. One thing for sure, the Mennonites are witness to a system of beliefs that

is truly patriotic because they honestly love their country enough to hold up a mirror for those

Americans whose only connection to any kind of primitive "patriotic" thought is right before

someone yells "play ball!"

I'm sorry to see the tradition end; but as a consolation, any game that starts with "Make

me a channel of your peace..." (The Peace Prayer) has something more to offer the average

sports fan than mere diversion and entertainment. The thoughtful among us will always find

a way. Thank you Goshen College!! What do you think? I welcome your comments and

rebuttals. Please send them to


  1. Thank you to the Mennonites and others who cling to the radical belief that our children are not for killing.
    Until we can accept that our government can be responsible for massive cover-ups and deceive its citizens, take a look at this information from Ken Jenkins...

    How to Overcome Emotional Barriers to 9/11 Truth
    164 Issue 13 – Annual 2009
    “The masses indulge in petty falsehoods every day, but it would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths. ... The bigger the lie, therefore, the likelier it is to be believed.” ~ Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

    B. Major Paradigm Shift: Questioning the official story of 9/11 threatens the foundations of our society, or at least
    seems to. It challenges our fellow citizens’ belief systems regarding the nature of our government, and even the very nature of our nation. Such questioning is far more profound
    than, say, questioning a war. Accepting the truth of 9/11 is, for many, a major paradigm shift, an inverting of their worldview. Such shifts risk a period of chaos and uncertainty,
    which many find scary.

    C. Blind Nationalist Faith: 9/11 Truth is a confrontation with the self-image that many Americans have – of their country and of themselves. The self-image Americans have
    been sold though our school systems and media is that we are the exceptional nation, the good guys wearing the white hats, the bringers of democracy and freedom. Such nationalistic
    faith can exceed religious faith in its dogmatic blindness.
    David Ray Griffin addresses these issues in a DVD entitled “9/11 and Nationalist Faith.”

    D. Projecting Parental Duties on Authorities: In his book As If We Were Grownups, author Jeff Golden’s thoughtful assertion is that, “We consistently elect [political] candidates who tell us what children would want to hear.
    Children want to hear that everything is okay, that little is required of them, that they can go out and play or watch TV, and that they’ll be taken care of and protected. In exchange,
    they are expected to be seen and not heard, to pay their taxes, to take their flu shots, and to not question the authorities.”

    E. Admission of Gullibility: Anyone we are introducing 9/11 Truth to now has believed the official story for years. To accept 9/11 Truth they have to admit they were duped, deceived,
    and manipulated for all that time. That brings up questions of gullibility, naiveté, lack of perceptiveness, obliviousness, etc.
    Most of us have resistance to admitting such shortcomings.
    Astronomer Carl Sagan sums it up nicely:
    “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out
    the truth. The bamboozle has captured us.
    It is simply too painful to acknowledge – even to ourselves – that we’ve been so credulous [i.e. gullible].”

    F. The Rabbit Hole Effect – Wider Implications:
    To believe 9/11 Truth, one also has to believe many other difficult truths, such as:
    • Parts of our corporate media must be incredibly corrupt to be complicit in such a massive cover-up;
    • There must be a powerful, secret, hidden government that is capable of planning and executing such a horrible and unthinkable act;
    • Some of our leaders are more corrupt and malicious than most of us would want to believe.

    But one has only to remember the words of philosopher and statesman, Edmund Burke, to understand how corruption tends to prosper especially in good times:
    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

  2. Hi Bernie! I'm Jack Chors (and not annonymous!). I've been a loyal listener/follower of yours since 1998, and find your current incarceration one of the most despicable miscarraiges of justice ever. You have my unconditional support and I look forward to reading more of your intelligent, insightful blogs. I'm so glad I found this site. See, no one can silence The Lion Of The Left!