Players who decided to kneel during the national anthem in London this past Sunday, from the Jaguars to the Ravens, did something very confusing. Following the Star Spangled Banner, they rose and put their hands over their hearts for England’s national anthem. Do people even know what they are protesting for anymore?
Personally I do not agree with the protests during the national anthem, however I do agree with people demonstrating their First Amendment rights. I feel as though injustice in America and its history can be protested in a different way outside of a ceremony designed to honor our flag and those who defend it. When a soldier dies, the same flag that these players are protesting, is draped over their casket. Not because it is a symbol of racism and hate, but because it is a symbol of freedom and those who fight for it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but that’s really what the flag stands for.
As far as President Trump’s comments about “SOB”s who kneel during the anthem—that was distasteful and should be retracted with an apology given. Trump himself said in a tweet “Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don’t always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views”. So why don’t you honor your words, Mr. President? I understand the president’s dislike of protests during the national anthem, but there are more productive ways to go about reacting, other than calling people names. What the president needs to do is invite these players to have a conversation with him and start the change that they are calling for.
Now getting back to the players who rose for England’s national anthem. I was so confused watching this because the same players who kneeled for the American national anthem due to the countries “hateful and racist history,” stood for England who has an even uglier history than we do. England, who was responsible for the killings of hundreds of thousands of innocent native people. The same country that killed Americans in the Revolutionary War. Does standing for their national anthem promote their murderous and racist history? No, it does not. Just like standing for our national anthem does not promote America’s history of slavery and the social injustice that exists in the country today. Standing during the national anthem and respecting the flag is all about respecting our freedom and those who fight for it. When the Steelers decided to stay in the locker room during the national anthem on Sunday, one of the players came out onto the field to honor the flag. This was no other than Army veteran Alejandro Villanueva, who understands what it means to stand during the national anthem.
At this point, continuing to cause controversy by protesting during the national anthem will just divide us even more. The protests have happened and the conversations have already been started. Now, lets work together and fix things, become united, instead continuing down this endless road of hate.
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