Stand for Patriotism, Kneel for Liberty

Stand for Patriotism, Kneel for Liberty

United States’ Megan Rapinoe, second from left, kneels during the playing of the national anthem before the soccer match against Thailand, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio.  Rapinoe did not start the game against Thailand at Mapfre stadium. She knelt from a spot near the bench while the fellow reserves around her stood. (Kyle Robertson/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

Some think it’s unpatriotic, some think it’s downright disrespectful, and some think it’s revolutionary. Either way, everyone can agree that Colin Kaepernick got everyone’s attention.

Kaepernick started the controversy when he sat down during the rendition of the national anthem before the beginning of a preseason game in August.

When asked why he sat, he stated:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

The biggest issue he is trying to bring light to, is that there are people in our country that are being denied basic liberties that others are not. Plain and simple.

USA Women’s Soccer player, Megan Rapinoe, also wanted to show support for what Kaepernick started. In an interview with the Associated Press, she stated that she was disgusted with how he was covered by the media and how people were making it about something completely different than it was:

“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it… [it’s] something that’s really powerful.”

Kneeling during the national anthem is a shocking statement, and a powerful one. I believe that it is eerily similar to the sit-ins led by MLK—something that outraged people then too.

Many are outraged over this new form of protest and are even stating that it is disrespectful toward our troops.

That’s hard to believe, simply because these players haven’t expressed that it’s our military’s fault that our society has become what it is.

Some people are so angry about this, that they are boycotting the NFL in protest of the players’ silent protest.

Now, the hashtag #boycottNFL is trending, and it has the internet in an uproar.

Honestly, it’s really infuriating that this is what will make people say something about NFL players’ behavior. Not standing for an anthem, which is a right given to any citizen, is what will make people angry.

Not a man being released from jail, after only serving three months for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Not a man being shot in front of his family in a car, for informing an officer that he had a conceal and carry license.

People are just infuriated that those players aren’t standing. I imagine a lot of the people criticizing these players are also doing so, while sitting on their couch during the national anthem, or chatting at a watch party.

There seems to be this illusion in our culture that we are supposed to act like everything is OK, when it isn’t.

Someone comes up to you on the street, and asks how you’re doing and the appropriate response is, “I’m good” or “I’m OK, you?”

That’s what this looks like: people are starting to get pissed now that instead of just going through the motions, NFL players and other athletes are waging a silent, peaceful protest. Now, these players are being referred to as “entitled,” “spoiled,” and “ungrateful.”

And for those who are saying, “well our troops gave their lives for that freedom and they should show their respect during the national anthem.”

No, that’s not why we stand during the national anthem.

You stand because you are proud to be an American, and proud of what your country represents. If you feel like you aren’t protected, or feel that the American Flag isn’t representing all Americans equally, then you shouldn’t have to stand for it; that’s the rub to giving everyone freedom.

There are holidays made for respecting veterans and those who lost their lives fighting for our freedoms. In our everyday lives, I would like to think that people are respectful toward service men and women when they see them in public. I’m grateful to my dad, my grandpa, and his dad before him, for all of the sacrifices they’ve had to make to do their jobs, serving our country. But this isn’t about them.

The national anthem is about showing patriotism for our country, not our soldiers. It’s oppressive to tell these players that they can’t express and exercise their first amendment right to a peaceful protest.

If you are on the fence of this issue, just think: should I stand for patriotism, or should I kneel for liberty?

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