So there was a football game in South Alabama last night. The announcer, Pastor Allen Joyner, of Sweet Home Baptist Church in McKenzie, at the high school game said, “If you don’t want to stand for the national anthem, you can line up over there by the fence and let our military personnel take a few shots at you, since they’re taking shots for you”. The crowd, predictably roared with applause in response. Since the response was so positive, the pastor went home and doubled down by posting the same statement on his Facebook page.
Crowley-Whitfield’s post was shared more than 4,700 times and received more than 50 comments, all positive, before she deleted her Facebook account on Saturday afternoon.
Mark Bender, a 22-year-old Air Force veteran from Texas, spoke out against Joyner in a post on the Sweet Home Alabama Baptist Church’s Facebook page, calling the pastor’s words “abhorrent and disgusting.”
He said he is “deeply offended and saddened” by Joyner’s “hateful rhetoric.
“We fight so that all Americans retain their rights and freedoms to protest,” Bender wrote. “I would never turn a weapon on my own countryman simply because they protest by remaining seated during the national anthem, by refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance, refusing to stand or pledge during any act. These things we do, these pledges, these songs, these are not compulsory acts. They are acts that we are all free to join or not.
“I am proud that we have that freedom whether or not I agree with someone’s non-violent protest,” he continued. “You, on the other hand are promoting extremist violence by way of state sanctioned executions. You are obviously standing for the compulsory actions by way of preaching hatred, jingoism, American exceptionalism — all because people do not believe or think as you do. I am grateful that the majority of Americans do not thirst for their brother’s blood as you do. You are a disgrace, those who agree with you are a disgrace, and you are a black mark upon this great nation. You should certainly hang your heads in shame.”
Let’s wait for the backlash that’ll never arrive, shall we? We can spend our time keeping count of how many brown and black men and women are threatened for exercising their rights.