Taking a stand by refusing to stand: some thoughts on kneeling for the National Anthem
By Emily Wunderlich
On Aug. 26, 2016, Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers took a knee during the National Anthem before a pre-season game.
Now, over a year later, political tensions have resurfaced after President Trump profanely criticized other athletes who have joined Kaepernick in protesting the anthem.
Many NFL teams responded by kneeling, locking arms, or staying in the locker room altogether, prompting severe backlash from Conservatives across the country.
Political pundit Tomi Lahren addressed the debate Sept. 25 in a heated Final Thoughts segment for Fox News.
“I’ll be happy to remind you what that flag and that anthem mean because maybe, just maybe, it’s bigger than you and your temper tantrum,” she said. “Under God and under the American flag we are not white, black or brown, we are RED, WHITE, and BLUE. Congrats Colin Kaepernick, you made hatred of America the new celebrity fad.”
Here is what I have to say about it.
Everyone loves their freedom until someone else’s freedom offends them.
In criticism of the “kneelers,” Lahren argued that “free speech isn’t just saying what you want to say, what it’s also hearing you don’t want to hear,” but she refuses to apply that logic to her own way of thinking. You may not agree with how others choose to exercise their rights, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is forcing your beliefs onto others. One person’s act of kneeling will not prevent another from standing.
This isn’t about the American flag.
It’s about raising awareness of police brutality against people of color across the country. Nobody kneels for the National Anthem because they are ungrateful for the sacrifices made by our American service members. They do it to draw attention to an issue that is dividing our country. “If peaceful protests did nothing, the powerful wouldn’t try so hard to silence it,” the American Civil Liberties Union of New York tweeted Sept. 23.
Even if this was about the American flag, it could be worse.
At least people aren’t wearing the American flag as a fashion statement, laying it horizontally during sporting events, using it to advertise alcohol, embroidering it onto pillows, using it on plates and napkins that are meant to be discarded, or worse: flying the Confederate flag – a symbol of rebellion at the very least… oh wait they are.
According to the United States Flag Code, the American flag should not be carried flat, worn as apparel, used for advertising or printed on anything “designed for temporary use and discard.”
Many veterans actually support those who kneel.
After all, they did fight for their right to do so. Besides, nobody knows a country better than the people who put their lives at risk to defend it.
Patriotism should come naturally.
If a country’s citizens must be forced to honor symbols of nationality, it’s probably a sign that something is drastically wrong at a systemic level. Instead of criticizing a movement whose effects are harmless, a good leader would pay attention to the motive behind it. Then again, who could resist an opportunity to detract attention away from greater issues at hand, such as the devastation in Puerto Rico or the threat of nuclear war with North Korea…
Do you stand?
If you criticize athletes for kneeling during the anthem while remaining seated as you watch it on tv, you have no room to talk.
It may never be known what the true intentions of the NFL players were this week- where they truly devoted to the cause for which they were kneeling, outraged by Trump’s insults, or simply challenging the notion that they should be fired? Regardless, freedom of speech and peaceful protest are the rights of every American citizen. If this display of solidarity offended you more than the torch-bearing white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, you are part of the problem.