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Texas may not be all that big on actually preserving democracy, but when it comes to ritual expressions of patriotism, it's second to none. That's why Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced yesterday that one of his top priorities this year would be getting the legislature to pass a bill called the "Star Spangled Banner Protection Act," which would require that the national anthem be played "at all events which receive public funding."

You may not have been aware that the least singable national song among major industrial nations was in fact endangered, but it totally is, because the Dallas Mavericks basketball team has played 13 straight preseason and regular season home games without the anthem. It's just that nobody had noticed until sportsball site The Athletic reported on it Monday, the first time an audience was actually allowed in the stands at the American Airlines Center. Worse still, the missing anthem wasn't simply an oversight; it had been ordered by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, a known supporter of athletes taking a knee to protest police murdering Black people.

Such a fiendish act of treachery required immediate action, because making a fuss about displays of patriotism is a ridiculously easy way to get people riled up. Patrick issued a statement that sounded as if he were reacting to a mass shooting (not that Texas Republicans take much concrete action in response to those):

It is hard to believe this could happen in Texas, but Mark Cuban's actions of yesterday made it clear that we must specify that in Texas we play the national anthem before all major events. In this time when so many things divide us, sports are one thing that bring us together — right, left, black, white and brown. This legislation already enjoys broad support. I am certain it will pass, and the Star Spangled Banner will not be threatened in the Lone Star State again.

What a relief! Yesterday's impeachment trial may have underscored just how close America came to an even more murderous national tragedy at the Capitol on January 6 than we had realized, but at least in Texas, the lieutenant governor actually took direct action to prevent a far greater atrocity. May God bless him for saving the nation, or at least the mandatory performance of its patriotic song.


As it turns out, Patrick won't need the Texas Lege to pass his little law to force the Mavericks to play the anthem anyway. Yesterday, the NBA announced the Mavericks would resume playing the song before all games, which you might think would settle the issue, but clearly Texas needs a law to make sure it never happens again, because Texas is all about taking strong preventive measures against bad things, as long as they're not climate change, voter suppression, attempts to subvert legitimate elections, or coronavirus outbreaks.

Cuban, for his part, issued a statement confirming he didn't think not playing the anthem was the most important issue of justice in today's crazy world, which simply proves how delusional the man is.

We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. But we also loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them. We feel that their voices need to be respected and heard, because they have not been. Going forward, our hope is that people will take the same passion they have for this issue and apply the same amount of energy to listen to those who feel differently from them. Only then we can move forward and have courageous conversations that move this country forward and find what unites us.

Cuban didn't specify how an American is supposed to approach anything other than sports or flag-waving with passion, as if such a thing were even possible.

Before announcing his Glorious Anthem Protection Act, Patrick had taken to Twitter yesterday to let Cuban know that cancelling the song was "a slap in the face to every American & an embarrassment to Texas," and to urge Cuban to sell the Mavericks to "some Texas Patriots," because after all, "We ARE the land of free & the home of the brave," at least unless you use your freedom to not play the tune of an old British drinking song adapted to commemorate the War of 1812. Also, let's once more enjoy Laurie Anderson's observations on the anthem, which may be unsingable, but has some great lyrics that are "just a lot of questions written during a fire." If that doesn't describe America right now, we don't know what does.

Hey, do you smell something burning?

In response to Patrick's completely non-cynical move to mandate patriotic displays that will definitely bring all Americans together at this difficult time, Texas Democratic Party comms director Abhi Rahman, who was definitely watching the impeachment trial yesterday, issued a statement suggesting there might be a more pressing issue facing America at this particular moment.

If only Dan Patrick and the rest of his Trump Republican brethren cared more about a violent right-wing mob attempting to overthrow our Capitol than they do about what a private organization chooses to play at their home games. Patrick isn't a patriot. He's a secessionist coward whose rhetoric and actions incited the violence that we saw at the Capitol leaving 6 people dead and risked [sic] the lives of thousands more.

Patrick continues to yap and yap while Texans continue to get sick, lose their livelihoods, and die. That's the Dan Patrick way.

Get ready for a long four years of this crap, with Republicans seizing on every opportunity to wave the flag, sing about rockets and their red glare, and require the Pledge of Allegiance multiple times a day to show just how much they love America.

They'll need the patriotic cover while they're busy stripping away people's right to vote, after all.

[Texas Tribune / Athletic (paywalled) / CBS Dallas-Fort Worth]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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