Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

N.F.L. players are protesting the right way

N.F.L. players are protesting again, and like last time, everybody is angry about it. When this happened the first  time, we talked about whether or not it’s legal, or if the N.F.L. was the right place to protest, so I’d like to talk about two things that I think we haven’t discussed enough in regards to these protests.
Firstly, I don’t believe that taking a knee or criticizing your country is an attack on veterans, and secondly, there are severe problems with race in the U.S. and their method of protesting is a great method of bringing them to attention.
To start, I think it’s dangerous to assume that someone not behaving the way you think they should around the flag is an attack on veterans. I have no idea where that comes from. It’s free speech being used to criticize a country, which is one of those freedoms that veterans defend. More importantly, those criticisms are to help a country because people care about it; they are not trying to destroy your freedoms.
Moving past that, they got the idea of taking a knee from a veteran. A Green Beret, more specifically. This entire discussion, which was supposed to be about America having genuine issues, has been plagued by emotional nonsense about veterans being attacked and disrespected.
Does everyone really think that all veterans are incapable of having separate opinions? Are veterans really just this hive-mind of pure patriotism that simply agrees with whoever is holding the biggest flag? Frankly, I would think of that as an insulting narrative. Stop using veterans as a card to be played every time you want to accuse someone of being unpatriotic. You are simply avoiding addressing any real issues.
Secondly, people should consider why this entire thing started. People wanted to call attention to problems in America, and those problems are genuine.
Tension between police and minorities are getting worse. The prison population is exploding, and is disproportionately “brown”. It’s becoming harder to survive in the lower classes. There are genuine issues in the U.S. and taking a knee at  football game isn’t one of them.
To reference Trevor Noah, host of the Daily Show, “when is the right time for black people to protest?” Apparently, they shouldn’t do it on camera, or in the street, or through social media. It seems that the only time a black person can protest is when they are out of sight and have no effect.
The fact is, people don’t want to admit there are deep, systemic, racial and class problems in the U.S.
I believe that honoring veterans and playing the national anthem before the beginning of events is perfectly respectable. I understand that we should discourage acting rudely at those times.
What the N.F.L. players have been doing is respectable though, and as people with a platform to get a message out, have a chance to make a real difference. They aren’t attacking America, or veterans or freedom.
They do not deserve punishment for reminding Americans that there are real problems and that they don’t disappear while you watch sports or t.v.
Finally, if President Trump trully thinks that players should be punished for this repectful display, maybe he could consider reflecting a bit on himself.
Maybe veterans didn’t die to have people kneel during the national anthem. Or, maybe veterans didn’t die to be your rhetorical device to convince people to ignore real issues.

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N.F.L. players are protesting the right way