THE CHAINS STAND FOR FREEDOM
I read this earlier in the week in The New York Times, and I don't get it:
…Seconds before "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" are played [at Yankee Stadium], police officers, security guards and ushers turn their backs to the American flag in center field, stare at fans moving through the stands and ask them to stop. Across the stadium's lower section, ushers stand every 20 feet to block the main aisle with chains.
As the songs are played or sung, the crowd appears motionless....
Howard J. Rubenstein, the spokesman for the Yankees' principal owner, George Steinbrenner, said the policy was an expression of patriotism.
"Mr. Steinbrenner wanted to do all games to remind the fans about how important it is to honor our nation, our service members, those that died on Sept. 11 and those fighting for our nation," Rubenstein said in a telephone interview.
In the month after the attacks, baseball and patriotism seemed to be intertwined, and the idea to restrict the movement of fans was born. Lonn A. Trost, the team's chief operating officer, said fans sent the Yankees' front office hundreds of e-mail messages and letters and made phone calls to complain about how other fans were not paying respect.
"The fans were telling us it was a disgrace that when the song was being sung people were not observing it with a moment of silence," Trost said.
… By mid-October 2001, he said, the Yankees' implemented a system using off-duty uniformed police officers, ushers, stadium security personnel and the aisle chains to restrict movement….
Got it? This is America, land of freedom -- so you're chained in.
Look, it's Steinbrenner's house -- it's a private business (as someone from the ACLU points out in the story), so he can do this if he pleases.
But this reminds me of the Founding Fathers' argument against the establishment of religion: If belief is coerced, it's not going to be sincere. How is a respect for these patriotic songs in any way meaningful if people stand silent for them because they're penned in by chains?
And up here in the New York area, at least, this sort of how-dare-you? questioning of patriotism is long gone -- not that there was much even immediately after 9/11. I can't believe anyone still wants the Yankees to do this.
On the other hand here's another Yankee story from the Times this week:
... This season ... the stadium's menu ... has some spicy new additions. They read like the day's specials at a Washington Heights restaurant: ground beef or cheese empanadas; chicken in salsa with sweet plantains, rice and beans; Cuban sandwiches with plantain chips; and papas rellenas, or fried stuffed potatoes....
The food is served at a concession stand called Salsa on the Go....
Aha! Now I get it. They're chaining people in upstairs and giving them a false of patriotism, while downstairs the Reconquista is being planned! The fiends!