For a little over a year, there has been a huge spark over what’s right and wrong when it pertains to the controversial kneeling during the National Anthem. For anyone who hasn’t done their research on how all of this became to be, or why the protest started in the first place then allow me to briefly explain.
Former 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick originally started the protest in the 2016 season by first sitting but began kneeling while The Star-Spangled Banner played before preseason games. According to reports, he changed his approach from sitting to kneeling because Green Beret Nate Boyer talked him into making the change. He explained to him that kneeling would be a better sign of respect instead of sitting. Even with the change Kaepernick’s continued approach in this form of protest that went into the regular season lead to much controversy. For those who do not know or understand why he is protesting. He was asked, and he articulated (many times) that his reasons for kneeling were to bring attention to police brutality against African-Americans or simply anyone in the sphere of being a “person of color.”
Kaepernick is not the first do this type of protesting in sports. Former NBA guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf elected to not stand during the national anthem during his breakout 1995-96 season with the Denver Nuggets citing his Muslim faith and his view of the American flag as a symbol of oppression and racism. “You can’t be for God and for oppression. It’s clear in the Quran, Islam is the only way,” Abdul-Rauf told reporters.
Another incident and historical protest incident of anthem protest is the raised fists of Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics. Smith and Carlos’ protest was against social injustice, racism and discrimination during a time of high tension in the United States—six months after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination set off riots.
The two were suspended from the U.S. Olympic team.
So, with just those examples, it’s clear that when something is brought to attention, but the majority sees it to be unpopular then consequences are usually handed to those individuals involved.
Kaepernick’s goal was to bring attention to the many cases of police brutality against African-Americans, using both the high-profile platform as an NFL player and the large stage provided by NFL games to raise awareness.
However, his, and those that have followed him, actions have been viewed by many as disrespectful to the military and as an unpatriotic move, even though he stated his actions had nothing to do with the military. However, the media continues to fan the flames and press the narrative on it being disrespectful to the military and veterans.
For many people, in part because of the vagueness of the protest goals, these national anthem knees simply come off like people not “respecting” the national anthem because they don’t simply like Trump. Which, it turns out, is not a great way to get the public on one’s side. Such as NFL players who squared off against President Trump because of his use of labeling them as SOBs, staged widespread silent protests (but were mostly silent on Kaepernick’s original stance because it was unfavorable and could cost them their positions or brand they’re trying to create) may now find themselves locked in a new battle – this time, against the NFL owners who are considering a rule that would make standing for the national anthem mandatory.
Despite reports and memes that claimed otherwise, the NFL (which is a private organization) doesn’t have any set rules for player behavior during the national anthem. Just guidelines.
We must pay attention to how hypocritical NFL owners truly are because they previously joined the #takeaknee movement and locked arms with players as an act of apparent solidarity against racial injustice, but now appear ready to reverse that stance.
Another way to look at it is the fact that many people do not truly care because the people who are protesting aren’t doing it in a way that the public would like them to protest. It’s almost like telling a person, whose shoes you never stepped into, that I refuse to be convinced by your protest because it doesn’t affect me or simply I do not want to go there because I want to believe everything I was taught to believe is a reality. Another thing we must look at is the fact that there has always been a divide in a country where placing “Band-Aids” on facts in history and watering it down will make what truly happened to appear “irrelevant.”
We must face the fact that the protests aren’t aimed at the military, and many veterans support them, while some who are very patriotic do not support it. The United States military engages in service and conflict partly to protect the rights granted under the nation’s laws. If those rights aren’t fully realized or exercisable, the sacrifices of military members lose meaning.
Listen to what is said by the original stance for the protest and realize that this country we claim to be beautiful and the home of the free. Hasn’t been beautiful for everyone and some people feel trapped and oppressed in a system that wasn’t created for all men to be equal. We must look underneath the jargon that is used as distractions daily and steps up to create a world where the words and statements we say aren’t empty.
Remember Martin Luther King Jr stated:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
So, we must have a true dialogue on the matter and push for an actual change instead of using lip service to sweep a situation under the rug and hope it goes away. We as people are notorious for ignoring the issues of others until the same exact issues are ay our front door affecting us.