With all the controversy surrounding the NFL players taking a knee during the National Anthem their is one complaint that I hear more than any other, that taking a knee during the National Anthem is disrespecting the flag and the veterans who fought and died defending that flag. I hear the same people telling me I must respect Donald Trump just because he is our president.
I have yet to hear one veteran saying this. I am the daughter and sister of veterans who actually say they didn’t fight to defend the flag or the anthem. They fought to defend our freedom. That freedom includes freedom of expression.
That being said this idea that we have to respect the flag, the anthem and the president for that matter, blindly respect them just because they are symbols of America is deeply disturbing to me. In life people have to earn respect. I raised my children to never disrespect an adult but I also taught them that they do not have to respect every adult just because they are adults. (Let me say here that not showing respect and disrespect are two very different things.) Every adult have to earn respect, even from children. I believe that, that blind respect is why many children are abused and molested because they are taught that they cannot say no to an adult and that they must respect what they say.
There are and have been many countries whose leaders demand respect blindly. Countries that have their leaders faces plastered on the sides of buildings several stories high. These are the same leaders who starve, enslave and murder their own people. They must pay homage to flags that represent regimes like Kim Jong-Un or Mao Tse-Tung.
Just like people flags have to earn respect as well. I have respect for the American flag, for what it could and should represent but I don’t have respect for what does represent and that is a country with a president who is a white supremacist and misogynist.
Then there is the complaint that these athletes should not be expressing their political views while ‘working’. First and foremost this is not a political view. Yes they make millions of dollars and yes without the fans they would be nothing and many those same fans are calling for them to be released or fined or suspended. Many even call them ungrateful. Ungrateful? The fact that they are willing to lose it all, to sacrifice all that money, fame and fan adoration for a cause they believe in is worthy of my admiration alone. That’s what great men do, they sacrifice for the sake of others, they risk it all for what is right. If Thomas Jefferson had been such a man he would have suffered the economic loss to his plantation and released his own slaves before he wrote those words ‘all men are created equal…’, had he had the courage of his convictions maybe these athletes wouldn’t have to take the knee in protest today.
The very first public protest against racism by an athlete was during the 1968 Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the medal platform after receiving their Gold and Bronze medals and raised their fists during the National Anthem, with Australian Silver medalist Peter Norman showing support by wearing the Olympic Project for Human Rights campaign button on his uniform.
They paid a heavy price for their action by being barred from the Olympics for life and the backlash here at home was loss of employment and they even faced death threats.
If the Olympic committee would have acknowledged the struggle for racial equality instead of banning two great black athletes maybe these athletes wouldn’t have to take a knee today.
I admire these athletes for the stand they are taking. I don’t admire Donald Trump for chastising them, he is the embarrassment to this country not those football players, those football players do us proud.