In light of the current brouhaha over NFL players “taking a knee” instead of standing during the National Anthem, I felt that it was time that I threw my metaphorical helmet on the field and offered my unsolicited opinion.
As far as I can tell, the whole thing started with former San Francisco 49er’s Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who, in the wake of several high profile incidents of unarmed black men being killed by police officers, decided to sit out the playing of the National Anthem at the start of games as a form of protest against institutional racism.
In addition – as I have discovered – the idea of “taking a knee” was suggested by a former NFL player and former Green Beret, Nate Boyer, as a more respectful form of protest. The veteran explained that, in the military, such a gesture was a sign of respect to fallen comrades, and would help ensure that no disrespect was intended to the men and women fighting for the country.
All being said, I find it strange that this form of peaceful protest is being touted as being unpatriotic and ungrateful. If Kaepernick et al. were really disrespecting the flag, wouldn’t they be lying down, or trampling the flag, rather than quietly kneeling? It seems like an oddly polite “disrespect” to me.
One of the things that makes this country great, is the First Amendment Right to freedom of speech. Unfortunately, this great nation also has a nasty little secret and those that don’t believe me need to check their White Privilege at the door. The Facts do not lie: it is a fact that African Americans are more likely to be arrested, incarcerated, live in poverty and have less access to quality education. And, no, I am not saying that there are no poor White folk, or that there are no rich Black people; I am stating that statistically a Black person, especially a Black Man, is more likely to be pulled over by the cops and, unfortunately, mistreated.
In my opinion, the reason the whole issue of kneeling during the national anthem has gotten out of control has nothing to do with a person’s right to peaceful protest and everything to do with the current incumbent of the White House. What possible reason would the President of the United States have to even address the issue if it were not to muddy the waters and stir up his base of supporters. It speaks volumes, that he struggled to think of a bad thing to say about a violent group of Neo Nazis, and yet felt the need to crudely refer to predominantly Black athletes, peacefully protesting, as “sons of bitches.”
This is a man who is desperately trying to divert attention away from his nonexistent legislative agenda, and the investigations into his administration’s corruption and collusion. His only measure of worth is how “good” his ratings are, and as long as he stirs the pot and foments division and distrust, he is guaranteed his front page headlines. By fueling the false narrative of athletes disrespecting the country, he keeps otherwise likeminded people from uniting against him and his corruption.
It is my hope that this controversy will encourage people to look to the facts before jumping to conclusions based on propaganda. I love football and I love my adopted country, despite both of their many flaws, and it makes me sad that they have been dragged down to flatter the whims of the lowest common denominator. However, I fear that, in the current political climate, such hope will end up being blindly kicked into touch.