No conscience for football players? As Colin Kaepernick is savaged, let’s not forget August Landmesser.


“If you can’t stand for the national anthem, get your sorry ass out of this country.”
— Courageous Facebook Lodger

Conscience is a tough concept, isn’t it? We’re for it, until we aren’t. It’s absolutely vital to safeguard OUR right to the exercise of conscience, but yours?

Of course — so long as we agree with each other.

I’ve seen the photo above many times, and back in 2014, I finally decided to see if there’s a story.

There is. The significance to me is that while the circumstances in this instance are ones about which we’ve long since reached general agreement (Nazism, Hitler, the Holocaust), it is not banal to suggest that non-conformists of many sorts in our own purportedly “free” country can imagine themselves in Landmesser’s shoes.

As an atheist, permit me to inform you that it happens all the time. In my reckoning, any time it’s the occasion for all of us to perform the same rote act (pray publicly, declare allegiance to the flag) at once, it’s time to consider dissenting.

Speaking for myself, I’ll always stand for the national anthem and pledge of allegiance in honor of my father, a World War II veteran of the Marines. But I will not recite the pledge of allegiance aloud, because “under God” has no place in it.

August Landmesser, The Man Behind The Crossed Arms (All That Is Interesting)

 … There is no telling how many men in that crowd were acting out of fear, fully aware that failing to salute the Fuhrer was akin to signing his own death certificate. Knowing that it was, in fact, Hitler standing before the crowd makes the disobedience all the more admirable, but what may seem like an act of justified transgression was at its core a gesture of love. August Landmesser, the man with his arms crossed, was married to a Jewish woman.