O’ER THE RAMPARTS

1. It’s Tuesday, August 30, 2016. It’s 70 days until the election.

2. I don’t want to say Twitter is strange. But both Thurgood Marshall and Larry the Cable Guy are trending right now.

Are there two less likely people to be in the same sentence?

3. Can you think of anything that’s more of a waste of time than a debate about how someone marks the playing of the National Anthem?

Why does anyone care whether Colin Kaepernick stands or sits for the anthem? Did he weaken the defense of the nation? Was the gross domestic product diminished?

Now, Kaepernick says he’s making a statement by not standing for the anthem, saying he believes he can’t while there is racial inequality in the land. And he’s expressing a viewpoint, for which he’s as entitled as anyone else.

And here’s what gives his statement more power:  the whining of people complaining that he did what he did.

Here’s the proof: The football game in which Kaepernick sat through the anthem was Friday. Today is Tuesday.

We’re still talking about it. We’re still talking about the fact that one of thousands of people in a stadium didn’t stand for the two minutes it takes for whoever sang the anthem to sing it.

In fact, there’s a good chance that 50 or 60 years from now, when Colin Kaepernick leaves this vale of tears, this whole flap might be higher in his obituary than the Super Bowl game he won for the 49ers.

The National Anthem is a song. Not an especially good one, by the way – I wish Ellington, Gershwin or Brian Wilson would have come up with something better.

But because it’s the National Anthem, it is a touchstone. For some reason, people care whether other people stand or sit or take off their hat or put their hand over their heart.

They also care immensely about the performance. Jose Feliciano faced opprobrium surpassing Kaepernick’s when he sang a non-traditional version of the anthem at the 1968 World Series. 

But then we look back at Feliciano’s performance with almost reverence. And we realize that, much like the nation it represents, the anthem is different things to different people.

None of them are wrong. You are free to do what you want when the National Anthem is performed where you are. Many Americans think of the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for this country, and that’s great. Many Americans burst with pride at the accomplishments of a nation whose people are so diverse.

Then there are Americans like Colin Kaepernick, who believe America has yet to live up to the standards it has set, and that’s fine, too.

And thus I have wasted my time and yours over the past 14 paragraphs, including this one.

4. “The Producers” is my favorite movie comedy. And while Gene Wilder is the co-star and was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor, he seemed glad to let Zero Mostel, Kenneth Mars and Dick Shawn outshine him in the Mel Brooks classic.

He was clearly a talented actor. He made people laugh, and for that he made the world better.

Congratulations to Mr. Wilder on a life well lived.

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