Naturally, Americans are up in arms because a bunch of folks who get paid millions of dollars to throw around a leather ball decided to kneel during the national anthem. I find this ironic for several reasons.
First off, I’d like to clarify that choosing to not watch football because someone did something you disagree with is entirely your choice and your choice alone. Just like NFL players can make the decision to kneel during the anthem, you can make the decision to change the channel. It’s called freedom, it is awesome, and I highly recommend it.
That being said, I’d like to draw attention to two points, one being the idea of a country whose leader shames others and calls for the termination of their employment for practicing their right to disagree with the government, and two, why are people so upset over a bunch of kneeling millionaires?
Donald Trump was well within his right to say whatever he wants about the NFL players, up to and including calling for the NFL to fire them. It’s called freedom, and you don’t have to like it to participate in it. But, if Trump really wanted the players to start standing up for the anthem, calling for them to be fired is not only on the verge of tyrannical, but it’s nowhere close to a solution.
Respect is earned. It is not mandated through threats or abuse of power or forced through the barrel of a gun. If there was one thing I learned in the Marine Corps it’s that good leaders are ones that lead by example. Those leaders who demanded respect without first earning it were the reason for me turning down a 5-figure tax-free reenlistment bonus to stay in.
Leaders, and I use that term loosely, who want something from you and don’t have the common decency or fortitude to first apply themselves and find a peaceful and mutually beneficial way to get it are not leading by example and deserve no respect. Sadly, in America, leaders haven’t done these things in a long time. In America, through propaganda and fear, our leaders are demanding and mandating respect—without earning it. This is the definition of tyranny.
If Donald Trump really wanted the football players to start standing during the national anthem, then he should ask them what it is they want. If the dozens of millionaires taking knees can’t articulate a rational and well thought out list of requests, then they are merely publicity hounds buying into the divide. Colin Kaepernick could do this, and he’s has taken action to try to resolve his grievances.
I’m not quite sure all these other NFL players would be such good leaders—like Kaepernick—if asked what it is they want.
If it’s police brutality they are protesting, where were most of these folks when Obama was in office? It’s not like police brutality and racist policing practices suddenly became an issue once Trump took over in 2017. Where were all these NFL players when Obama was filling prisons with black people for possessing a plant? Where were all these NFL players when Obama continued to wage the drug war which is proven to lay far more waste to the rights of those with darker skin than to those with lighter skin? Outside of just a few of them, they were nowhere to be found, that’s where.
That brings me to my second point—the folks that are angry at these football players taking knees—because it disrespects our country, our troops and our veterans. Again, these folks have every right to voice their opinion, be angry, and boycott the NFL. It’s called freedom, and it’s awesome, and I highly recommend it.
That being said, if a person taking a knee during a song is disrespectful to our troops and veterans, what, exactly, is it considered when 307,000 of those veterans die waiting for care they were promised by this country? If a person taking a knee during a song is disrespectful to those who fought for our country, what is it considered when that country looks the other way when there over 40,000 of those veterans living on the streets with no home? If taking a knee at a football game is disrespectful, what then, is it considered when Americans remain silent as a veteran kills himself or herself every 65 minutes, every single day, every single month, of every single year?
If this song and flag represent the land of the free and people kneeling down makes others angry because it is an insult to that freedom, then how does one view the NSA surveillance grid? Is a person taking a knee worse than the United States of America creating the largest spying network the world has ever seen—one that the Stasi would’ve killed for—and using it on innocent Americans?
Is a person kneeling more offensive than the TSA groping babies, cancer patients, the elderly, and the disabled, despite never stopping a terror attack? Is a knee more offensive to freedom than the United States creating, maintaining, and financing the largest prison population the world has ever seen through the enforcement of victimless crimes?
Is a rich football player kneeling really that much more offensive than the Commander in Chief making one of the largest weapons deals in the history of the US with the largest state sponsor of terror in the world, Saudi Arabia? Is a knee more offensive than calling Saudi Arabia our ally after they were exposed for financing the horrific attacks on 9/11?
Where is the outrage? Call me a traitor, call me unpatriotic, call me whatever you want, tell me to move to Somalia and eat shit and die, because—freedom baby. However, I’ll always stand against tyranny, even if that means pissing people off for telling the truth. In an empire of lies, telling the truth is a revolutionary and often hated act.
If we can agree on one thing in this sea of vitriol and disagreement, let us remember that this country was born through protest. Slavery ended because of protest. The Declaration of Independence was a protest. It was not order-following and blind compliance that created America—it was disobedience.