With an open mind and two sides of the story, you’re bound to learn something new.
Welcome to the zoo! This is a blog where both the Republican and Democratic viewpoints are represented. The blog is not meant to sway you either way necessarily, just to present both sides of the story. You may not agree with the whole article, but hey, you’re likely to agree with half! The topic this week: Take A Knee
Before we delve too deeply into debating the Take A Knee protests, I want to make something very clear: the players who take a knee are protesting police brutality and racial inequality in our country, not the United States as a whole or veterans who fought for our country. In fact, the NFL players were not required to stand on the field during the national anthem until 2009. Our nation was built upon equality and power of the people. The players who take a knee during the national anthem are not disrespecting this country or its flag — they are trying to improve it. And in attempting to correct the disgraceful racism that is rampant in our country, these players are attempting to help our country, not hurt it. If we cannot critique our own faults, we are not the democracy we claim to be. People do not protest because they hate America; they protest because they want to improve the country they love.
This misunderstanding of the protest has led to unwarranted responses. The protests are nonviolent and silent. Kneeling is a respectful gesture that resembles, as Eric Reid explained, a “flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy” (if you want further information on the genesis of the protest, read Reid’s article in the New York Times). Similarly, players linking arms during the anthem is a respectful variant on the Take A Knee protest, portraying solidarity and strength. Athletes should use their national platform for social change. They have the rare opportunity to inform Americans about endemic problems in our society in a peaceful manner. These players are not here just for audience entertainment. They should not be seen as pawns or puppets playing a game just for us. They are humans with feelings and opinions and beliefs. If we are to disallow nonviolent protest because it does not suit us, what kind of protest will we allow? Violent protest? Clashes in the streets? We cannot label the Take A Knee protest as anything but valiant and civil.
Lastly, it is incredibly inappropriate that President Trump has commented and condemned all players who protest during the national anthem. He is the President and should act like one. Calling on owners to fire players who protest violates the First Amendment, a law one would think a President would know and respect.
The players involved in the Take A Knee movement are speaking out and peacefully protesting what they believe in. Colin Kaepernick started the movement to take a stand (ha) against social injustice and oppression of people of color. The idea of fighting for a cause you are passionate about is great, honorable even, but not when it is done in such an inappropriate way. For one, the protest involves using the NFL and the team as platforms to promote the players’ own personal political feelings. A business person would not stand up while someone was speaking in an important meeting to take a political stance (unless they wanted to get fired). For more of a popular media comparison, can you imagine Robert Downey Jr. laying down in the middle of an Avengers movie to send a message about addiction? No, because that would be completely inappropriate and ineffective. Let’s just say that I am not surprised Kaepernick is currently a free agent.
And aside from that, it is an ineffectual method to catalyze actual change. Instead, Take A Knee has divided teams and the country as fans burn jerseys and fight each other over the movement’s undertones. Obama remarked that, “when it comes to the flag, the national anthem, and the meaning that holds for our men and women in uniform and those who’ve fought for us — that is a tough thing for them to get past to then hear what his [Kaepernick’s] deeper concerns are.” Sitting down during the National Anthem shows contempt for all the men and women who have risked their lives, been injured, or died fighting for our country. Drew Brees commented that these players sitting down during the National Anthem are “disrespecting the flag that has given [them] the freedom to speak out.” I was happy to see all of the players standing when the National Anthem played during the Super Bowl this past Sunday, showing their respect for our country and those who have fought for it before playing a great game.