One Hispanic American and the Star-Spangled Banner

By Raoul Lowery Contreras

Justice Robert Jackson’s opinion in one of the most famous Supreme Court decisions, 1943’s (West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette):

“To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous, instead of a compulsory routine, is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds.”

Fast forward to Sunday, September 24, 2017, one U.S. Army veteran, Hispanic American (former Capt. Of Army Rangers) 29-year-old Alejandro Villanueva became an instant hero to many Americans – football fans and otherwise.

Certainly, he has become a hero to the President of the United States as Villanueva is a living, breathing patriotic American not just because he served three tours in Afghanistan during the years he was required to serve in the Army after he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, but because he rejected the suggestion from his boss, Mike Tomlin, the Black coach of the NFL Pittsburg Steelers who “suggested all team members” present themselves as a team in Sunday’s league wide protest after being called “sons of bitches” by the U. S. President.

Is Villanueva the embodiment of a failed U.S. Army promotion of “An Army of One” that flunked the marketing test to the far better and brilliant U.S. Marine Corps marketing ads? Is he really an Army of One? He was on Sunday.

Aside: Never in its marketing history has the United States Marine Corps objected to a Navy or Army advertising campaign; on the other hand, the United States Army complained to the Department of Defense that the eye and ear catching “I didn’t promise you a rose garden” Marine television recruiting ads made the Army look bad. Thus, “an Army of one” was born.

Since television cameras caught Villanueva standing off the field at the tunnel entrance from which players come on to the field, he has apologized for “throwing his teammates under the bus” by embarrassing them with his solo attention to the Star Spangle Banner.

He shouldn’t apologize. He signed a $24 million-dollar contract offered to him because he has developed into a fine offensive tackle. Neither should his teammates be embarrassed either. The reacted to what they think is an insult by the President and they did so in a manner fitting, take a knee on national television’ they were insulted on national television so their pushback had to be on national television.

The fact that some of the team owners either spoke out against President Trump or participated in the actual demonstration of team pushback is interesting. Though some of the owners popped for millions of dollars to support Trump or his inauguration, we should not forget that none of them like Donald Trump enough to even allow him to bid for ownership of the NFL Buffalo Bills. Moreover, some of the owners were NFL defendants against Donald Trump’s anti-trust law suit against the NFL that he and his fellow Trump professional football league’s that they won but were only awarded One dollar trebled to one dollar plus three for damages. The United States Football League (USFL) died, many people blame Trump and his law suit for the league’s demise.

So, the President insulted black players that dominate the league’s rosters and gave owners a chance to pay him back for insulting them years ago. It seems like NFL owners and President Trump share one “quality” i.e. NFL owners have very long memories.

Now that almost every NFL player has manifested an imaginary middle index finger at the President, how long will they remember being called “sons of bitches” and that they be fired for being good Americans and protesting like good Americans, peacefully as prescribed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Good thing the owners are not firing the “sons of bitches” for “taking a knee” – for Alejandro Villanueva, the 29-year-old for Army combat soldier and son of a Spanish naval officer starting offensive tackle for play-off regular Pittsburg Steelers would have a hard time playing against a team by himself.

Six-foot ten inches tall, 300-pound Alejandro Villanueva would not be enough in a game with another team. Standing at the tunnel entrance on Sunday by himself at attention during the playing of the national anthem, however, is a different story. Standing with him, I believe, was every Hispanic American that has ever served in the American military, I least I did.

Contreras is the author of “The Armenian Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” (Berkeley Press, 2017) and “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade” (Floricanto Press, 2016); he formerly wrote for the New York Times’ New America News Service.


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September 28, 2017  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


One Response to “One Hispanic American and the Star-Spangled Banner”

  1. berna mack on October 1st, 2017 7:54 am

    Many of us Latinos are really proud the moment we saw him stepped out. Immediately we knew he loved American soil, The Flag that represented this Nation called USA and those within its walls that STAND TOGETHER united to helping each other…not hurting each other, now resort to killing our soldiers, local and city cops (they have a family too). In the law enforcement areas they would say most crimes are in the Black communities…then they need to help police their street crimes too. Be a community that stands with the rest that are wanting the same for them. Stop the name calling and name blaming. We have families and we on this side and on your side live in the same fears but we clean up our messes.

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