BASHing HEADS: Two Opinions on the NFL Controversy

November 2, 2017

Kneeling During the Anthem Disrespectful

James Sahakian

To do anything other than stand with your hand on your chest during the National Anthem would be disrespectful to the United States of America. The protesting by sitting, kneeling, locking arms with teammates, and remaining in the locker room during the National Anthem has been disgraceful.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the political expression last year when he chose to sit during the National Anthem of a preseason game. Kaepernick stated he refused to stand for the American flag because of police brutality and racial discrimination.

Slowly, this movement has spread nationwide with many players and team associates choosing to sit or kneel during the national anthem. A new protest involves some professional teams not even coming out until the anthem is over.

What professional athletes are doing is not unconstitutional, but it is still a disrespectful protest. To not stand for the Star-Spangled Banner is completely un-American.

To not stand with your hand over your chest is impolite and dishonorable to everyone who sacrificed their time and life for our freedom. When Americans do not properly salute the flag, they are saying that our veterans and those who lost their lives did not need to fight for our freedom. This movement does not appreciate the true American heroes.

The protest is completely unpatriotic. This protest gives fuel to people who believe the United States is a terrible country. People will see shame on Americans who refuse to stand for their own national anthem. The nation cannot be viewed as an ultimate country when we have more focus on sitting during the anthem instead of finding solutions to debt and poverty. Those who do not stand properly supports people who are truly racist and bigoted. This may be a loud claim, but when the flag is rejected, so is everything the country stands for. The United States represents freedom for all no matter the skin of one’s color and sexual orientation. When people do not stand to support what the nation represents, there is not a difference between them and those who are truly filled with hate.  America is a country where people can worship freely, support political parties, and try to accomplish any dream. This guarantee has united American citizens throughout our history, from the Revolutionary War, through the Great Depression and September 11 attacks. All of that is in vain when we do not stand for the flag, which represents these guarantees of freedom.

Refusing to stand for the National Anthem is angering many and creating more division in our nation.  Kaepernick and others who have refused to stand for the National Anthem have caused division among their teams, fans, and across the country. In the beginning of the protest, the Santa Clara police union implied they would boycott providing security at games after Kaepernick revealed his reasons for protesting the National Anthem and wore socks depicting pigs in police uniforms. Some fans burned Kaepernick’s jersey to show their disgust for his actions. Many fans have voiced their distaste for an athlete who makes over a million dollars a year and can’t salute the flag.

Instead of protesting the National Anthem, athletes should be involved in civic activism. American history is filled with Civil Rights figures who appropriately protested. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X are perfect examples of this. They did not disrespect the country; they were not afraid to state racial and civil issues. They revealed the nation’s problems instead of focusing on an unimportant matter like the national anthem. Doing this, they inspired many to fight for their freedom.

It Is understandable why people are protesting the National Anthem. Many people are dealing with discrimination and police brutality. Also, President Donald Trump’s comments a few weeks ago saying athletes kneeling during the National Anthem should be fired used inappropriate language and was wrong to do so. This, too, caused anger and division and protesting.

However, protesting the anthem will not cause every racist to change his or her ways. It is only increasing the anger within the nation. The protesting of the flag may give racists more reason to be hateful.

The United States of America is suffering from a lot of issues. Racism, poverty, and sexism are seen throughout the country. But not to stand for the National Anthem is not the answer to fix these issues. To sit, kneel, lock arms with others, or remain in the locker room, is disrespectful and un-American.

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Kneeling Honors Idea Behind the Flag

Joe Corcoran

Just remember, he also called them “very fine people”.

Oh, wait … that’s what our president said about the neo-Nazis who committed acts of violence on protesters in Charlottesville, Va. He actually called the NFL players peacefully protesting during the Star Spangled Banner “sons of b——.”

Over the last few weekends a majority of NFL players around the league have shown support for fellow players by either kneeling, locking arms, or staying in the locker rooms during the National Anthem following President Donald Trump’s comments in a speech that anyone protesting by kneeling during the National Anthem should be fired.

The protests began with Colin Kaepernick last year protesting injustices in the country towards African-Americans, including police brutality. Several other players continued with the protests, both last season and this season, leaving fans and players alike divided on the issue.

But the answer is simple. Even if people disagree with players kneeling during the anthem, the players’ decision to do so should be respected. Every person in America has a right to protest peacefully, and the players of the NFL are simply exercising that right. They are not yelling. They are not fighting. They are only kneeling during the anthem.

Our President earlier in the week also Tweeted that his criticism of players kneeling during the anthem “has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem.”

To use your words Mr. President… “Wrong!”.

The flag of the United States symbolizes the rights of the people of the country we live in. The players are not disrespecting the flag; they are exercising the rights that the flag stands for. They are not protesting the flag itself by kneeling during the anthem; they are protesting injustices towards African-Americans, specifically police brutality.

It’s all about race.

And, calling the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville “very fine people” but then saying the players peacefully protesting are “sons of b——” who should be fired only cements the point that these protests are solely about race.

But a valid question is made concerning respect for service men and women. Is kneeling disrespectful to them?

It is important to think about the countries that these men and women have fought against. They were fighting countries that do not allow people to disagree. Countries that do not allow their people the chance to express their opinions, whatever and wherever they may be.

The brave men and women of the United States military have fought against nations that do not give their people the right to protest against injustices, or the right to peacefully express an opinion. That is the right they have defended for the American public. That is the right the players are exercising.

Jack Downing, president of Soldier On, a nonprofit organization based in Northampton that aids homeless veterans, echoed his thoughts: “The majority of our veterans here have no problem with people kneeling down for the anthem. They think there’s just as much respect in that.”

People have different feelings when it comes to the National Anthem, and that’s fine. People can stand if they want, or kneel if they want — but their decision to do either should be respected.

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