Point/Counterpoint: Against Kneeling During the National Anthem

Mason Brady, Senior, Staff Writer

According to Google Dictionary, when someone is patriotic, they are “expressing devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country.” Therefore, when NFL players disrespect our National Anthem, the flag, and therefore our entire country, how can they possibly be seen as patriotic?

Recently there has been renewed controversy over kneeling, sparked by a tweet by President Donald J. Trump, telling NFL players to “Respect our Flag and our Country!” by standing during the national anthem. He then asked that players be fired if they knelt. While his phrasing may have been extreme, his message is not wrong. He is right that they should not be doing it considering the divide that it creates.

This comment by the President has caused this issue to stray from what it originally stood for, which was combatting racial injustice and police brutality. It has turned into a stunt for attention where players only use vague buzzwords like “racial injustice” and “oppression” to explain their actions. The issue began last year when Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, sat during the playing of the national anthem because he was “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” said Kaepernick. Whether or not Kaepernick was right is not the issue. The problem is that the actual protests are unable to make up for their disrespect for our country.

If people are going to disrespect the military, who defend our right to freedom of speech, or police officers, who keep us safe on a day to day basis, then they have to be productive in making America a better place, which has happened before. For example, in 2003 there were many protests against the Iraq War in Los Angeles, Seattle and New York City. These protests were unsupportive of the decision made in D.C., nor the country as a whole, but they were productive because they had a more centralized foundation behind their protests, and drew attention to a major issue instead of taking away attention from much more serious problems, like unequal opportunity in schools or drug circulation.

Not only does kneeling during the national anthem lack a validity, but it also hurts the country more by amplifying the deep polarization being felt. When the players kneel, they make a bold statement, which is their goal to draw attention towards racial injustice, but they are only making their cause seem worse to others by disrespecting America. According to a poll done by CNN, “49% say the protesting players are doing the wrong thing to express their political opinion when they kneel during the National Anthem, while 43% say it’s the right thing.” This displays that their unclear message is not being heard by most Americans, and it is only causing a more clear divide between those that are patriotic, and those that are not.

A movement that takes attention away from bigger issues, yet does not help to fix racial disparity, cannot be considered productive. Since they have disregarded all the opportunity this country has given them by disrespecting the flag, fail to make change for the better, and seem to only seek attention from the media, they simply cannot be considered patriotic.