Nationalism used to be the norm in American politics. It powered the northern effort to reunify the country and end slavery with a war that came to define the country. Since the United States was much more of a religious country in the middle of the 19th century, it follows that the enduring anthem of the Union effort would be the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” It’s Old and New Testament imagery and its emphasis on God’s judgment is much better fitted to that America than to the America of modern day. Yet the conspicuously religious song has stuck around. Does it have anything to say about our present movement for nationalism?
Senorise Perry is a running back for the Buffalo Bills. Coming out of college at Louisville, he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears in 2014. He later played for Miami, mostly on special teams, before catching on with Buffalo this spring. And last week, the Bills gave him permission to wear Number 32 on his jersey.
Number 32. A minor NFL player, sitting somewhere around fourth or fifth on the team’s offseason depth chart, now has the number not given out by the Bills since 1977. The number of the greatest tailback ever to play in Buffalo. The number of possibly the most beautiful runner in the history of football. The number of a murderer. The number of O.J. Simpson.