During the 2016 football season San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the presentation of the American flag and National Anthem.  He said he was protesting racism and police brutality and the move caught on with a number of players around the league.  Fans not so much.  Attendance went down and TV ratings went down.  In time the practice was discouraged and went away.

But in light of the death of George Floyd and the protests and riots that followed, the prospect of kneeling during the anthem is back on the radar.

Sunday 6-14-20 was flag day which celebrates the anniversary of the adoption of our flag by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777.  Many American Patriots honor the history of our national flag and display it with pride.  These proud Americans believe those who denigrate our flag — and by extension the nation — deeply offend the honorable service of the men and women who have defended our nation under its banner.

These folks know the Country isn't perfect, they know there's still work to be done and progress to be made. They also know the liberties and freedoms available to all who live under the flag will continue to all us all to work toward solutions with mutual respect.

 

New Orleans Saint's quarterback Drew Brees said he could never support someone disrespecting the flag and the backlash to that has lead to a number of apologies by Brees and the confirmation by other players that they would kneel now if they didn't before.

The latest announcement coming from  Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield who says he plans to kneel during the national anthem in the upcoming season to support the ongoing protests of police brutality, social injustice and racism. "A fan posted on Mayfield's Instagram pleading with him not to kneel, but Mayfield said, "Pull your head out. I absolutely am." He has said he doesn't care if it costs him fans."

Fair enough, he just lost me....and I suspect quite a few others.  Houston Texans defense end J,J. Watt, who is a real hero, tweeted in response to someone who said he was "pretty sure" Watt wouldn't take a knee during the anthem: "If you still think it's about disrespecting the flag or our military, you clearly haven't been listening."

I have been a fan of JJ Watt (we'll see what happens going forward) but with all due respect I think he may not have been listening. Millions of people who are also against police brutality, social injustice and racism are genuinely offended by any show of disrespecting the flag.  How can that be?

The protest is misguided.  EXAMPLE- if you have a beef with the Catholic Church over how you believe it has failed to root out problem priests, is disrespecting all people of faith the best way to make your case?

Mayfield continues, "Everybody so upset about my comment doesn’t understand the reasoning behind kneeling in the first place,” Mayfield wrote on his Instagram story. ”Nate and Kap came to an agreement that kneeling was the most respectful way to support our military while also standing up for equality."

(Nate is former Green Beret and Seattle Seahawks long snapper Nate Boyer, Kap is former kneeling quarterback Colin Kaepernick)

Boyer tweeted yesterday "Welp, it’s #FlagDay Just a friendly reminder that it’s not racist to honor it & it’s not unpatriotic to kneel before it. From Independence Hall in Philly to the friggin’ Moon in Outer Space, the Ragged Old Flag has endured; a symbol of freedom & hope, not yet experienced by ALL.” 

 

Boyer consulted Colin Kaepernick on his kneeling protest during the 2016 season.  Kaepernick was initially sitting on the bench during the national anthem. Boyer suggested that the former quarterback should kneel because he thought it was more respectful.

Without being a racist, refusing to stand for the national anthem shows disrespect for the flag and members of the armed forces. The national anthem pays respect to the people who have risked their lives, been injured, or died defending the United States.

What's the point of a protest, if the manner in which you choose to show your dissatisfaction drowns out your message and raises anger and resentment in the very people you hope to persuade

  1. You don’t get respect by showing disrespect.
  2. Disrespecting our country inflames racial tensions rather than moving towards harmony.
  3. Studies show there is racial stereotyping (even among minorities) beyond the criminal justice system. The protest does not address the real problem.
  4. There is peer pressure being put on NFL players to take sides during an activity that should unite them and their fans.
  5. Sports stars have a great life so why show contempt towards a country that makes it possible?
  6. This protest actually separated like-minded people. That is a fail!
  7. Not one single person, behavior or law is changed by football players refusing to stand for the anthem.
  8. It corrupts the usually fun and patriotic atmosphere before a football game.
  9. It’s a slap in the face to people who risked their lives for our country or lost loved ones doing so.
  10. There is no measurable successful outcome. 

My advice (no one asked) is if you want to protest the quality of food at a given restaurant in Seattle, don't block the farmer in Iowa from going to his field to raise the crops.  Let your protest be focused on the issues of concern and draw attention to the specifics of what needs to change.

Protesting the flag is a general indictment.  It's using a machete when a scalpel is required.  Perspective, Nuance. Focus. Actually reach the people who can help craft the solutions. Try it.