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Is kneeling for the national anthem justified or disrespectful?

September 27, 2017

In recent weeks, NFL athletes have taken a knee during the National Anthem to protest racial injustice. Started by former San Fransisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the protests have grown after being in the spotlight of the media and President Donald Trump. Whether these protests are justified to serve their purpose or just disrespectful to our country is being debated. This side-by-side column gives both sides of that argument.

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Kneeling during the National Anthem does not necessarily mean hatred and lack of patriotism towards the U.S.

We can all agree that no country is entirely perfect.

No government has solved every problem there is to solve, fed every impoverished family there is to feed, and healed all rifts between racial and social groups that there is to heal. So why must we pretend that the United States is without flaw? And why is it taboo to point out and protest against these faults?

The recent acts of dissent exemplified by NFL players during the National Anthem perfectly demonstrates the rights guaranteed to American citizens via the First Amendment, which allows freedom of peaceful protest and assembly. If the topic at hand was the legality of the situation rather than the morality, the law would clearly favor the athletes.

These players’ act of defiance is not physically harming anyone, but it sure is attracting the negative feedback of fellow Americans who feel the gesture is disrespectful and against what the United States stands for.

The thing is, though, these quiet but powerful protests means something entirely different.

These acts of protest from athletes are a result of frequent reports of police brutality against African-Americans and the still-prevalent racism found throughout the country. Kneeling during the anthem is not a lack of patriotism or symbol of hate for America; it’s an acknowledgment of problems that affect minority groups, particularly African-Americans, that are all too often swept under the rug.

For those concerned with the morality of the athletes’ actions: a quiet and peaceful objection to certain aspects of a system that, in the opinion of many minorities, is failing them is nothing to throw a fit over. No one should feel obligated to stand for a song that represents a system they feel doesn’t fully represent their rights and freedom; it’s not a matter of disrespect, it’s a matter of recognizing that a problem exists.

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    Stand up and find a better way to voice your opinion without disrespecting our country

    Let me start by getting this straight. I believe it is truly important that people stand up for what they believe in. After all, aren’t we supposed to “be the change we want to see in the world”?

    However, I also believe there is a fine line between protest and disrespect, and the recent acts by many professional athletes to kneel during the national anthem have clearly crossed that line.

    Our flag not only represents liberty and justice for all, but it is also a reminder of all those who have risked their lives for our freedom, including those who have died fighting for the flag. By kneeling for our national anthem, athletes and coaches are abandoning these brave warriors.

    I’m not saying that everyone should agree with the issues society faces or with the comments our president makes, especially when Donald Trump starts up with his tweets. However, kneeling for our national anthem is not the appropriate way to voice your opinion on the subject.

    By belittling the National Anthem, these “protesters” are doing the exact opposite of what our country needs at this time: ripping us apart from within. As we deal with multiple natural disasters, race issues, and threats from foreign nations, the last thing we need is our multi-millionaires tearing apart our dear country from the inside-out.

    That does not mean their voices should be silenced, either. Instead, these athletes need to find a better way to voice their opinions. Kneeling for the national anthem is not only introducing an unnecessary rush of politics in sports, but if kept up could have serious effects on the league, considering many people, including Donald Trump, are calling for a “boycott of the NFL” as long as the protests continue.

    No matter the case, all American athletes should stand for our national anthem and respect all 80 words of the glorious song. So please, stand up and find a more respectful way to voice your opinion.

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