The NFL season is back. We are now three games into the new season and the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick doesn’t go away. In fact, now it has intensified by the Nike corporation’s decision to feature Kaepernick as the front man for their new ad campaign. This has resulted in much brouhaha.
No decision has been made by either the NFL or the team owners or the team players on how to resolve this issue.
I have some questions about the reaction to players kneeling during the National Anthem.
First, I am a twenty-year veteran of the armed services. I am not the least bit offended by this form of protest. I’m not even sure how this became an issue about the military. Except the one sure-fire way to stir up a hostile crowd is to connect some issue--any issue--to the military.
There will always be a group of folks ready to start a fight about how we treat our military personnel. For the record, the military exists to guard and defend and protect the citizens of the United States--all of them. Even the ones who might not agree with the policies of this country.
Certainly one of the things our military defends is the Constitution which holds Freedom of Speech as something worth defending. If it doesn’t hold up when someone says or believes something that I don’t then it isn’t worth defending anymore.
I’m curious as to what is most offensive in these player’s act of kneeling during the anthem. Is it that they aren’t standing? They aren’t singing? Do you remember the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City? Two of our track athletes took to the podium to receive their medals and while the anthem played they each raised one arm with a fist clenched--presumably to call attention to the treatment of African Americans in this country. They were vilified by the media and the public. They didn’t kneel, but their action was seen as offensive.
You and I may have good reasons to disagree with Colin Kaepernick and the other players that are kneeling or staying in the locker room until the anthem is over. Lots of folks seem to get apoplectic over this. But I ask you, have you paid attention to the crowds at these kinds of events while the anthem is being sung? I notice these days that nobody sings--we’ve turned that over to “professionals”. I still sing and it’s sort of uncomfortable being the only one nearby who does. Should I be offended by the fact that nobody is singing?
How about the ones who don’t remove their hats? Or the ones who don’t place their hands over their hearts? Or how about the ones who fidget and talk to their neighbors or laugh or eat their hotdog? Nobody wants to talk about them. Why?
I don’t have a good answer to that. I only know that a group of football players--not all of them, but some--have made it a point to use their celebrity to call attention to circumstances they feel are egregious. Disagree with them if you like, but be cautious in calling for their silence because that is not what our country and military have stood for and fought for over these last 240 years.
And what might you do if one day the “thought police” happen to see you praying over your food at a McDonalds and ask you to leave because they just don’t think that’s appropriate behavior?
It’s worth pondering.