First, it is a sad state of affairs that this is even a question that needs to be discussed. America is facing far more serious problems than whether NFL football players are standing or taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem. But Donald Trump has made it an issue, no doubt to distract attention away from the circus that his administration has become. That, and the Mueller investigation.
This issue arose last year when San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to sit or take a knee during the playing of the National Anthem. He did this to protest the rising tide of violence by law enforcement against black Americans and the acquittals of those officers who killed blacks in the line of duty. Some of these acquittals, especially in the case of Philando Castile, which was caught on tape, were particularly egregious.
For his actions, Kaepernick, not Officer Jeromino Yanez who was acquitted, has paid a heavy price. After choosing not to renew his contract with San Francisco, Kapernick has become a virtual pariah in the NFL. Don’t ever forget that the Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Michael Vick was convicted for dog-fighting (a horrendous act of animal cruelty) and served prison time, but was given several QB positions in the NFL after his release.
But beginning back in September, a number of NFL players and owners, decided to either take a knee or lock arms with each other in a show of solidarity with their fellow black players, and in defiance of Donald Trump, who had criticized anyone not standing during the anthem. Trump was obviously playing to his base when he called upon the NFL to “fire the sons of bitches” who refused to stand, thus pouring gasoline on the fire.
But is taking a knee when the National Anthem is being played unpatriotic? Trump and a lot of his supporters would like for you to think it is. But the freedom to do so is expressly written into the First Amendment of our Constitution.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people to peacefully assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
For most people, standing for the National Anthem when attending a public event has been traditional. But never mandated. But then it is also traditional for people to stand when the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah” is sung. The story behind that is that when the king of England first heard the Chorus, he was so moved that he stood up. As no one can sit in the presence of the king when he is standing, the entire audience also rose to their feet. Thus an interesting and time-honored tradition was born.
Although the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner were written in 1812 by Francis Scott Keys, and set to the tune of a popular British drinking song (that’s right – a drinking song) the song did not officially become the National Anthem until 1931, by act of a Congressional resolution. That means there are still a number of people alive today who never HAD to stand for the National Anthem. When the doughboys went off to fight in World War I, they didn’t march to The Star Spangled Banner; it was the tune written by Broadway showman George M. Cohan “Over There” that was their victory song.
The Star Spangled Banner, like our flag, is just a symbol of the values that America holds dear. It is the Constitution, not the National Anthem, that every America should respect. And it is not up to Donald Trump, nor any president of the United States, to dictate what everyone MUST stand for.
It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem-RESPECT OUR COUNTRY
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2017
That is what people like Vladimir Putin or Kim Jung Un do in their regimes. People, we are so much better than that. Peaceful protest is not un-American; freedom of speech is not un-American. They are the essence of what being an American represents. That is what so many brave Americans gave their lives to defend.
Trump is taking on the NFL not because he demands RESPECT OUR COUNTRY, but because he lost a lawsuit against the NFL owners and was permanently banned from ever owning an NFL team. As always with Trump, it is about him – not patriotism or respect. In the following tweet he threatens the NFL owners using the power of the government to change tax laws regarding them. That is the act of a despot, not a patriot.
Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2017
Trump was tweeting about the NFL when Puerto Rico was destroyed by Hurricane Maria. Trump was tweeting about the NFL when the massacre in Las Vegas occurred. Trump has yet to say anything about the four American soldiers killed in Niger. Trump has yet to tweet anything about the catastrophic fires rampaging through northern California.
Don’t forget that Trump and VP Pence “staged” a planned walkout of the Colts/49ers game in a move that cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars
The trip by @VP Pence was long planned. He is receiving great praise for leaving game after the players showed such disrespect for country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2017
So whether you agree of disagree with NFL players taking a knee during National Anthem, defending their freedom to do so is the most patriotic thing you can do. If Trump is able to dictate to the NFL players about taking a knee, never forget that you might be the next target on his list.