On June 5, 2020, President Donald Trump has this to say about reverence for our Flag and National Anthem.
“We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag – NO KNEELING!”
He made this comment as headlines discussed an NFL Quarterback who seemed to “waffle” on his understanding of the protest by certain individuals regarding police discrimination towards people of color, and thus the same Quarterback’s stated defense of honoring our Flag, the symbol of our nation.
In recent days and weeks since the original comments, I’ve listened while the NFL Commissioner, various teams, coaches, and players have all stated that kneeling when the Flag is raised and the national anthem is played, is a reasonable method of protest against systematic/institutionalized racism and police discrimination and violence against African-American citizens in the United States of America.
On the issue of the African-American experience in America, I am completely unqualified to address, since I do NOT have black skin. Yes, I am a Caucasian man, and I have white skin. I do not agree with any form of racism, nor do I support “bad cops”. I am a little confused about the claim of institutionalized racism however, since I do not, and cannot see the facts that support that claim. Still, I am open to the conversation to discuss the issue and support any necessary reforms.
What I have trouble with is the lack of respect for the Flag, those men and women who fought for that Flag, and our great nation.
The United States of America is not perfect. But it is the BEST that we have. There exist in this world, slave markets where men and women are openly sold. There exist in this world places where genocide happens daily because some group isn’t like some other group. That doesn’t happen here. There are governments in this world when citizens are forced to think/act/behave in a specific manner. We are free here in the USA. There are places in this world where systematic elimination of the LGBTQ community is practiced. Not here.
Still, I am sure that the United States of America could improve. And we should do so.
Here’s my question. Who gets to decide what a certain form of protest means? Is everyone allowed to protest in the form that they wish? What if MY “form of protest” offends YOU? Does that matter?
If I kill an animal in front of the Courthouse and I state that this specific form of protest means that I reject systematic racism against those of color? Is THAT ok? Why? Or why not? Wanton killing an animal is illegal you say? Did you know there is a law that requires proper respect for our Flag/Anthem?
If my form of protest is to turn out the lights at an NBA game to protest the behavior of Colleges and Universities in their admissions practices that disproportionately discriminate against Asian students, am I within my rights?
There is an old standard of English Law that goes like this: “your right to swing your fist, ends where it hits my nose”.
Everyone who chooses to protest against institutionalized racism and discrimination by those few “bad cops” have my absolute support.
When their form of protest disrespects something that is extremely important and symbolic to me, both of my love for my nation as well as my love for my brothers and sisters that served before me, and with me, then they lose my support.
The NFL announced their approval of their employees protesting while they are being paid to entertain me, and millions of others just like me. When I spend my entertainment dollars I do NOT want political theatrics. I simply want the entertainment distraction I paid for. So if players choose to protest in a fashion that I interpret as significant disrespect to things I hold sacred, that’s fine. Just be prepared to do so without my financial support.
If YOU choose to protest in a fashion that disrespects ME, and what I HOLD DEAR, then know that I simply will choose to disagree. I will choose some other form of entertainment. We can still be friends, but I will resent your disrespect of that which is important to me. That blatant disrespect will make it more difficult for us to work together in solidarity for that which is important to YOU.
Please be aware. There is no threat herein, nor any intent to disrespect anyone, nor the issue that you protest. There is only a commitment that if you disrespect me and what I hold dear, you will simply force me to the sidelines, where I will choose not to work with you, due to your obvious disrespect of me. Also know that my discretionary entertainment dollars will be spent in a place where I am not disrespected.
That’s only fair.
And you know what? I have a suspicion that this is EXACTLY what the intention of those who choose to disrespect the Flag, our nation, and those who fought and bled/died for her actually intended.
The intention is to divide us.
Don’t kneel when the Flag is unfurled, and the anthem is played. Let us find another way to protest and to air your grievances and we can work together to find a solution.
Alternatively, go ahead and choose to protest by kneeling for the Flag/Anthem, and turn many supporters of your cause into bystanders who feel disrespected by your choice “to swing your fist where it hits my nose”.
President Donald Trump is right. There are many other ways (things) you can protest.
Choosing another method of protest will bring supporters to your side, supporting your cause. Or, let those who lead the protest against our Flag to continue to divide us. The choice is really up to each of us individually, isn’t it?