Fourteen years ago, former NBA basketball player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf set off a firestorm of controversy by refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. He refused to stand for the national anthem because “the flag represents tyranny and oppression” and he added that standing for the anthem was a form of nationalistic worship forbidden by his religion. He was suspended by the NBA, but served only a one game suspension. He worked out a compromise in which he would stand, but he could close his eyes and look downward. He was booed and jeered by fans in a March 1996 game against Chicago. The former No. 3 overall pick never quite recovered from this:
Abdul-Rauf was traded to Sacramento in the offseason and played for the Kings for two seasons. He then played in Turkey in 1998-99 before returning for his final NBA season with Vancouver in 2000-01. The anthem stance seemingly taken a toll as his numbers declined each of his final three years in the league, and he never quite lived up to the expectations of being a No. 3 pick.
He now plays in Japan.
Some may wonder why I blog under a pseudonym. Abdul-Rauf is one reason why. One thing to realize in the US is that one can be a Democrat or Republican or a liberal or conservative. One can even be an independent. One can discuss politics and even have strong views as to how the State’s power should be used. But one should never under any circumstances question the legitimacy of the State by refusing to honor its flag or sing its hymns or pointing out its tyranny. Such blasphemy is unacceptable and the zealots who worship America can use their collective power to destroy you. They can ostracize you and refuse to engage in trade with you. You will be a pariah and you could lose everything you have worked for because you refuse to bow down and worship this Golden Calf. The NBA is a private organization, but its revenue comes from the average citizen people who are the State’s disciples. Even if the NBA commissioner agreed with everything Abdul-Rauf said, the commissioner would still have to worry about boycotts to his product because the State’s disciples can simply refuse to stop coming to games.
While I’m not a Muslim, I agree with Abdul-Rauf that the flag of the US represents tyranny and oppression. I believe that the US Federal Government is one of the most evil in history. It clearly is not as murderous as Nazi Germany under Hitler or the USSR under Stalin or China under Mao and it has not yet crushed all our liberties. But its wars of aggression have murdered millions of foreigners and such wars have also lead to war on the domestic population. During wartime the Federal Government has taken over any industry it has needed; it has taxed every productive activity it can think of; it has inflated as much as the markets could stand; and it has even enslaved millions of young men to fight its wars. Moreover, the US was ostensibly born in the name of freedom so to see this government accomplish what it has while its citizens cheer it on reveals the deep hypocrisy of proclaiming “land of the free, home of the brave” while its laws continue to oppress its own citizens and it continues to bomb foreigners in distant countries.
If I were to make my opinion known publicly using my real name, it could cost me dearly. It might be hard for me to continue to be employed or get a new job. Sellers might refuse to sell to me because my opinions are heretical. Some of my friends might not want to continue their friendship with me. This is actually more harmful than just being on some government watch list because now my day-to-day existence is at stake. And it is not the State that would doing this, but its disciples who freely choose not to associate with me because this is what their religion demands. This is the cost of blasphemy against the America the Idol.