Kneeling During the Anthem

A Way Forward when the NFL Drops the Ball
By Eric Majors,

An ideal protest includes a clear cause and a method of protest that educates and unites as many people as possible to either come up with a solution to a problem or to perform some call to action. Protests that lack any specific call to action may be therapeutic but are unlikely to solve any problems.

I agree with those who think that kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest creates more problems than it solves. The protest lacks a call to action so it’s unclear what anybody can to that would satisfy the protesters and end the protest. There doesn’t seem to be any one single representative of the protesters who has the authority to declare an end to the protests.

All you have to do is to look at the confusion, division, anger and resentment that the protest has caused among so many citizens to realize that it’s a disaster. The negative results are indisputable.

If racism is the cause for the protest then most people are already aware of racism and they appose it. It’s not as though Colin Kaepernick discovered racism, it’s been a problem throughout recorded history that we struggle with to this day.

The best analogy that I can think of to explain why kneeling at the national anthem is so misguided is that it’s like going to church and spitting on the cross while everyone is taking communion in order to protest all of the sin in the world. In other words, the blame appears to be directed at the wrong party, the most innocent party. In the case of kneeling at the anthem the blame appears to be placed at the ideals and the vision of the founding of the United States government and the republic for which it stands.

The obvious problem with protesting against the United States and it’s founding documents is that the U.S. is made up of all of the people who hold the truths of the Declaration of Independence to be self evident, including equality, freedom, justice and liberty. Although things have never been perfect in any country including the United States and they are still not perfect today nobody can argue that the founding documents and principals of our republic have been the best catalyst for change that continue to guide us all towards the ideal goals of liberty, justice and equality for all citizens.

Kneeling during the anthem has created an immediate diversion from the discussion of racism to a discussion about how patriotism and love of country by citizens should be respected. The kneeling protest is peaceful and provocative but it gives the wrong impression. The most successful movements of our past that have lead to real change leveraged patriotism. These were protests lead by people like by Frederick Douglass during the Civil War and Martin Luther King.

One would think that in this day and age the NFL would be staffed with advertising moguls who would have immediately enforced the leagues own policies that clearly spell out proper behavior during the national anthem and immediately performed an intervention with Colin Kaepernick. If they really cared about their players as they claim that they do they could have helped him to help him formulate a more effective media campaign that we could all rally around. The NFL has to realize that these young men come from a lot of backgrounds and may have no idea why their protest is so ill received.

The NFL has failed fans from all races and backgrounds that are offended. Many former fans are now boycotting games and burning their NFL paraphernalia because the NFL refuses to acknowledge that kneeling during the anthem is simply too offensive. Instead of apologizing to people who are being offended the NFL and the protesting players keep trying to justify the protests and change the narrative from the method of protest to some vague cause that has something to do with racism.

In defense of themselves the protesters say that their intentions are being misinterpreted and misunderstood. If that’s true then the misunderstanding only goes to strengthen the argument that kneeling at the anthem may be one of the worst forms of protest ever conceived and it would be grounds to end the protests rather than continue to confuse and agitate people. No matter how you slice it it’s simply indefensible.

The NFL’s failure to take a stand and do the right thing or even acknowledge and apologize to everyone who has been offended makes them look just like the very swamp creatures that are reviled by the majority of citizens and that have drawn the ire of President Trump.

In twenty years from now, I predict that we will even see documentaries where some of these players who are kneeling today will admit that kneeling to the anthem was a mistake. The question is can anyone admit the failure sooner?

In conclusion I would like to offer the NFL and all of the players who have knelt during the anthem a way out. I believe that there is a way out that would not only enable us to address the very issues that prompted the protest but would also create an opportunity for some who are now kneeling to become heroes.

In this case that hero is somebody who is willing to admit that they made a mistake and to apologize to all of the people who have been offended. In this day and age were so few people are willing to admit when they are wrong and being right is more important to people than doing the right thing this would be received like manna from heaven. The management of the NFL should really become that hero but their previous miscalculations and missteps demonstrate that they may not be smart enough to do the right thing.

And so the possibility of being the hero is available to any of the players who are currently kneeling at the national anthem who have the guts to be the first to admit that it was a mistake and that it was a bad idea simply because it has hurt so many people from all ethnic backgrounds and genders. If such a hero comes forward then that hero would suddenly have the ear and support of everyone, including those people who have been offended. That hero would enable us to move on from the discussion of the method of protest to a serious conversation about the underlying issues of racism that are presumably at the root of the protests.

Any form of protest that gives the impression of uncaring, anger or hate is not going to win the support needed to achieve any constructive outcomes. Regardless of intentions too many people are seeing uncaring, anger and hate towards the republic for which the anthem and the flag stand. The only way that these protests can lead to anything constructive is for the protest itself to be condemned and to come to an end so that we can move on to the more serious discussion of the underlying grievances are real and that do effect us all.

by Eric Majors,

October 10, 2017


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