On Sept. 23, President Donald Trump tweeted that he disapproved of National Football League players kneeling during the national anthem, judging it as disrespectful to the nation. Sparked by Trump’s tweet, the American public has continued discussion over the nature of the NFL protest ever since. Instead of addressing the issue of racism and police brutality in the United States — the reason behind this demonstration — opposers of the kneeling decided to criticize the players for lacking patriotism. As a further effort to paint these NFL players as anti-American, opposers interpreted the protest as an attack on the military. The protest, however, is not about the military. It never has been.
Please do not get me wrong, I respect our military and all that it does. However, I do not accept the false argument that voicing opinion about the U.S. government is a direct attack on our military. As if it is relevant to the issue, Trump supported the opposition tweeting, “Courageous Patriots have fought and died for our great American Flag — we MUST honor and respect it!” Even if one argues that kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful to our nation, the U.S. is much greater than its military.
People use appreciation for our military as a red herring to shift the argument from protesting police brutality to the deserved respect for our great American heros. It is not about the flag, the military or the anthem. Players chose to use their national platform to peacefully protest. While Americans debate respect for the flag and its relation to the military, few are talking about police brutality. Trump has instead said, “The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”
Mr. President, it has everything to do with race; that’s the whole point. Why hasn’t Trump addressed the issue they are kneeling for? Oh yeah, because we are supposed to be winning again, and apparently not listening to the plights of our people. But since that would be too complicated, let’s just discredit their argument by saying they are dishonoring our soldiers.
Although the military is not relevant to this issue, the flag and what our nation represents definitely is. Some believe it is all-American to protest in this way, others argue that it is neither the time nor place for it. Nonetheless, the protest does not dishonor the flag or the anthem, which was not even universal in baseball until 1942. Instead, it continues the belief on which our nation was founded upon: freedom. When important topics such as police brutality and racism are never get addressed, it is admirable people who receive enormous attention from mainstream media, such as the NFL players, use their freedom of speech to spark a much-needed discussion.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. Email Brandon Weaver at [email protected]