Kneeling for the National Anthem has become a symbol of disobedient protest of police brutality. While everyone obsesses over the action, calling it un-American or a courageous act, many ignore what it truly means.
The question at hand here, is not about the players’ right to protest or the president’s tweets or any of the other stuff because everyone is talking about that. The questions this blog will try to answer is, “What do these protests say?” and “Do these actions align with the stated goals of the protesters?”
To be clear up front, here are some assumptions:
- Players have the right to protest
- NFL teams can tell their players how to conduct themselves
- The NFL can tell players how to conduct themselves
- Fans can protest, boycott, support, denounce, criticize, praise, love, and hate the actions of the players and the players themselves
- The government cannot make laws against this
- Government officials can express their opinions about this topic
The Flag is a representation of American ideals. It is the embodiment of the values expressed in the Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights. The Flag is not a symbol of the reality of where America is in pursuing these ideals. For a better understanding about the institutions and ideals it represents, check out The Death of Institutions Would Wreak Havoc on American Society for a better understanding of American institutions.
Protesters of the Flag do not speak out against police brutality, rather they are kneeling in the face of the symbol of their right to do so. They are spitting in the face of their freedom, biting the hand that feeds them. It is not un-American because they have complaints about law enforcement, but because they are dishonoring the very institution that provides them the freedom to protest, thus undermining their own message.
If these NFL players feel the urge to protest police brutality, they should. They have the right to speak out against institutions of this country because of the ideals and rights that the Flag represents. By protesting the symbol of the ideas they embody while doing so, they contradict themselves and undermine their message.
Should these guys really want to speak out against law enforcement, they should find another protest. A few ideas are:
- Stand outside a police precinct on a sidewalk peacefully, or better yet, take the knee there.
- Give people who have been subject to the brutality they hate by seeking them and speaking with them.
- Do real research about this to grasp a full picture of the issue and have intelligent, honest, frank discussions on these topics.
The kneeling for the Anthem and speaking out against the Flag do not help their cause. Most of the people they are upsetting would be glad to help with ending police brutality and any form of discrimination in this country. The fact is that these same people believe wholeheartedly in the ideals and institutions that the Flag represents, so dishonoring the Flag alienates those who wish to uphold those values.
So Kaepernick, if you want to fix this problem, stop attacking the institution that provides you the freedom to do so and target the problem itself. This is not “creating awareness.” It is making you look stupid by showing your lack of understanding in regards to what you are criticizing.
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