Honoring our National Anthem is for most Americans, a time-honored tradition that we hold close to our hearts. Old Glory is held with great affection and love. For many Americans, we cling to the red, white and blue as our way to honor the sacrifices made to bring us our freedom.
NFL Season 2018-2019
Now that the NFL season is upon us, we are again reminded of a player who sparked a protest during the most sacred moments in professional sports stating, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Immediately, I along with millions of other Americans, lashed out against this man for disrespecting the flag. In the America I was raised in; our flag serves as a symbol to honor those who lost their lives protecting the same freedoms this man has enjoyed his entire life.
Can of Worms
With the can of worms opened, the media unleashed and tried to defend this man’s pouty actions indicating his protest was simply a message against social injustice; not a message against the military or police or America at all. The motivation was to create awareness and dialogue for what he perceives is a country that oppresses black people and people of color.
My problem with his protest- the venue he chose and the people who are blindly supporting this citing his First Amendment right. I agree, there are injustices in our country. And, I agree that we should do something about it. However, I am not convinced this is the most effective way to get any message out there.
The National Anthem and First Amendment Rights
This person did everything within the law. Not standing for the National Anthem is a legal form of peaceful protest, which is a First Amendment right. He was guaranteed the right to peacefully protest without fear of retribution from the government. However, like all actions, consequences follow. His choice resulted in division among teams, fans, sponsors and employers. Furthermore, he failed to see that the consequences of his actions, were not protected from his employer’s rights.
Think about this- when the National Anthem of a country that has provided you freedom and your employer is providing you $60 million a year contract, can you really be protesting oppression. Remember that there are minorities risking their lives, being injured and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan that are protecting our freedom for less than $20,000 a year.
Personally, I am starting to think this man may be a borderline genius. He was one of the most highly regarded athletes at his position for a few years. Then, his ability and talent started to fade, whether it was from lack of training, lack of preparation or just plain age, we may never know.
The fact remains that he was not the talented quarterback he once was and was in danger of losing his job and being cut by his team. I think he sat at home and thought of a way to get his face back in the spotlight. He no longer had the talent, so for him, the best way was to begin a protest that he thought would accomplish his goal. It worked!!!
His actions single-handedly further alienated an already divided country. Passions swelled. The fervor of America was heading for a peak as this man’s face was plastered all over newspapers and televisions throughout the world. When, in all reality, he was nothing more than an oxymoron . By taking a knee during the National Anthem, disrespcting the American flag, and citing the First Amendment; this man is a walking contradiction. Because our National Anthem, and more importantly our flag represent what gives all of us the ability to speak up.
In his effort to transform the social theatre, his success was limited. He may have felt virtuous, perhaps useful in bringing an injustice to the front burner; but, was it worth it? Some would say yes considering he is far from oppressed as a spokesperson by a major athletic wear maker.
Drilled Into Our Heads
For the past several years, it has been drilled into our heads that we cannot do or say anything that makes people feel bad or upsets them. Now, military, veterans, police and all other public service personnel are being told to suck it up. “He is not doing it to disrespect the military, veterans or police. He is doing it to raise awareness.” This seems highly hypocritical coming from the people who tell us we can do or say certain things because it may upset someone’s feelings.
Boycotting the NFL
Now people are boycotting the NFL because a few bad apples are jumping on the protest bandwagon. When I look at those joining in the protest, most of them seem to be fringe players. Players you probably never heard of because of their lack of talent. Their only motivation seems to be to get their faces on TV because they don’t get much playing time. Interestingly, when they get cut, they can blame it on the protest.
Can’t Do it
As an American and a Veteran, I can’t bring myself to protest or boycott the NFL. I am still watching my favorite infuriating team every week. Boycotting would be akin to cutting off my nose to spite my face. I enjoy watching my team and rooting for them every week. I refuse to let a few bad apples spoil something I enjoy.
Yes, it pains me to see these ungrateful people kneel or flash a gang sign during the most sacred moment in professional sports. But the reality of the situation is that our nation has faced far greater challenges than NFL players who refuse to stand. And, we have faced and defeated formidable foes and enemies throughout our nation’s history.
Not Worth It
But, boycotting because of a few ungrateful people, would be as bad as those who hate all police officers because of a few bad cops. In every workplace across the country there are bad employees. Frankly, there are bad people all over the world. However, if we boycotted everything because of those bad people, we are left to wonder what would ever be accomplished.
In my opinion, these protests do not cause us to waiver, but rather cause our patriotism to run deeper and stronger as Americans. We stand a little taller and remain standing a little longer after the anthem is played. We sing a little louder and prouder. Even possibly, we find a tear welling in the corner of our eye, as we humbly and solemnly honor all those who have sacrificed for every freedom we enjoy in this imperfect, yet greatest nation in all of history, The United States of America.
So, protest as you choose, you have that right; but do it with full knowledge that the blood of every veteran runs through the red stripes of that flag. Their courage and valor run through those 50, blue-encased white stars. And, their pure sacrifice is in every white stripe perfectly placed on that flag. The flag that represents the United Stated of America- land of the free and home of the brave.
I choose to believe the words of John Philip Sousa, “The red, white and starry blue is freedom’s shield and hope.”