Kneeling for the Anthem Isn’t Disrespecting the Flag. In Fact, it Might be Respecting It

San Francisco 49ers National Anthem Kneeling” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

By Aman Huda

Former San Francisco quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, is still without an NFL contract. It’s been four years since he first knelt during the U.S. Anthem and three years since we’ve seen him on the field. Within the last few years, this action has caught on in the NFL and we’ve seen a mass number of players refusing to stand for the national anthem. After Nike’s ad involving Kaepernick, the controversy has reached its most dividing point. Many, including the President, strongly oppose the players’ actions, deeming it disrespectful to the US flag. Those who agree with the players focus on the reason as to why the players are kneeling, to protest the treatment of minorities in the country.

During the anthem, by tradition and out of respect, one is supposed to stand. But protest is always when one defies dogma to get their voice across. In the case of NFL players and their belief of unfair treatment of minorities by the police and the government in this country, what better stage to protest and get their voice across than one of America’s biggest sports league?

However, kneeling during the anthem, thus going against this dogma of tradition and respect, has given these players enemies, large ones too. The U.S. President, Donald J. Trump, has been an active opponent to the actions of these players and has called the NFL to take action. And this summer, they did.

The new rule which the NFL passed was a bit of a compromise. Since no one is required to stand for the national anthem, players do have the choice to remain in the locker rooms during the anthem, but if they do decide to come out of the locker room, they must stand during the anthem. Those who broke the rule could be handed a penalty by the team management or the team itself would be fined. However, according to SB Nation, this rule has been suspended by the NFL.

It’s pretty easy to see why these players upset people. After all, the flag does represent a country which gives us liberty and freedom, but to whom does this country give liberty and freedom to? To every African American who is unfairly killed by the police? To every Hispanic who is verbally abused for their heritage? For every Muslim who is mistreated and thought of ignorantly as a threat to this country? For every woman who is abused? Shall I continue the list?

But if you think about it, never once did I complain about the flag, I complained about the country. And neither do the players. The problem is not the flag or what the flag represents, the problem is we’re not upholding to the flag and we are falsely glorifying it. Sure we can say the flag represents a land of freedom and liberty, but we can’t say yet that that land is the U.S.

The players who kneel are not against the flag at all. They are not against what it represents. If anything, they believe in it more than we do. Once the flag’s vision is met by our country, then these players can stand up for the anthem and not have a reason to sit. Why are we telling the players to glorify the flag’s expression of liberty when it’s not there? Once we see true liberty in the country, then we can truly stand during the anthem and know that not one word in the anthem is a lie. But if we sing that this is the land of the free and the brave when it truly is not, why glorify a false anthem and a false reality? The players agree with us 100% on the flag’s value and want us to be able to not just want that value, but to live that value.

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