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Kneeling For National Anthem May Not Be My Way, But Free Expression Must Be Encouraged

September 23, 2017

The National Anthem was played by the Madison Symphony Orchestra last weekend as the new season got underway at Overture Hall.  For more leg room James and I have box seats and it was there I stood and was able to look about as over 2,000 people did the same.  I placed my hand over my heart as I have done for 5 decades at such moments.   But that is me.   And as I note at such occasions with the passing of the years a fewer number feel the need to do the same with their hands.

My purpose here is not to puff my chest over love of country or denounce those who have a less strict way of observing this national song.  Rather I want to make a point that with a large and diverse population there is room for many ways to show patriotism–and that can also occur even with protests and the making of political statements.

I have not been overly excited about the news concerning former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick not getting a contract this year.  After admitting he did not vote in the 2016 presidential election I simply no longer find his voice to have credibility when it comes to the issues he feels important to protest over.  I can not fathom how anyone–regardless of which issue is strongly held–would not use the most important tool available to a citizen to effect change.   When it was reported Kaepernick did not vote he was no longer on my radar for following.

But that does not impact how I feel about the larger issue which he is central to as this nation moves towards another Sunday filled with games.

The fact that some professional athletes feel kneeling during the National Anthem is a form of expression and desire to do so is fine with me.  Powerful and peaceful political statements are good for the nation, even when they might offend some who witness those moments.  Therefore when President Donald Trump demonstrated a raging case of ‘sun downers syndrome’ in Alabama last night there was a collective tightening in the gut.   Among the outrages he uttered was the blast against those who wish to have freedom of expression in sports.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘get that son of a bitch off the field right now – he’s fired, Trump said

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said today Trump had demonstrated a “unfortunate lack of respect” for the league and its players by suggesting that team owners should get rid of players who disrespect the flag.

“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities,” Goodell said in a statement.

While I have no applause for the NFL given the tax exemptions they receive while many of the under-bellied chumps in the nation cheer them in mindless drunkenness, I do have to admit the statement from Goodell is tone-perfect regarding Trump.    I trust that there is a powerful reaction to the attempt by Trump to undermine free expression–even when that expression may differ from how I would react to the anthem.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2017 5:54 PM

    I know that too many did not vote–or voted third party–and the result is most damaging.

  2. September 24, 2017 3:48 PM

    You know what? A lot of other people did not vote either. Americans have become complacent and we are now paying for it. #TakeTheKnee

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