I have been fairly silent on this because I don’t have very nice things to say on it either way. However, as I see more and more posts, I see more and more inconsistency. I was recently involved in several debates over this NFL Flag Kneeling situation and I wanted to share a few thoughts on this because if anything points out the lack of political inconsistency in this nation, this issue is surely it. I can almost bet that neither side of the political spectrum will like this post, but it needs to be said all the same because I would also bet that neither side has given it much thought. To be clear, both the players and the fans are out of control on this one.
First, let us remind ourselves that players didn’t consistently come out for the anthem until about 2009. This is because they were in the locker room getting yelled at by the coaches about how they their jobs were on the line if they didn’t perform out on the field.
(Calm Clarification: Some have complained about and attempted to argue the previous statement. Note that even according to Brian McCarthy – spokesman for the NFL – “until that year , players in primetime games would remain inside their locker rooms while the anthem was sung, due to timing concerns for the television networks. After 2009, the players in primetime games have been on the field during the anthem.” – This is why I used the word “consistently“.)
This is good time to remind everyone that these guys play a game. They are not political leaders so please… take their opinions with a grain of salt. Furthermore, there are no NFL rules demanding that players are present or that they stand, but that is entirely irrelevant and it is a crazy thing to even try to debate at this point. This is because there are already rules in place.
Yes… there are rules for flag etiquette and they apply to ALL citizens. Of course, nobody really cares about that these days. Let me start with something simple. According to the flag codes, the flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. This is broken all the time and nobody says a word. The flag should also not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. This is broken all the time as well and exactly how many protests have we seen over these repeated violations? NONE! This is because the people that are complaining about the kneeling are the ones who often violate these rules because they love America so much that the flag simply has to be on everything. I’m not judging. I love America too and I love seeing the flag, but let’s at least try not to be hypocrites here. In other words… be aware of this before you start casting stones over flag etiquette.
Still, I understand why people are upset at the players. Proper etiquette suggests that we:
- Stand for the anthem and remove our sunglasses and hats
- Place your right hand over your heart or place your hat over your heart until after the last note (unless you are current military – then you give a salute)
- Look at the flag throughout the anthem (if one is present) or the performer if a flag is not visible
- Remain quiet
- Don’t eat or drink during the song
- Sing along if you want
- And don’t applaud when it’s over
None of these are difficult to do and it isn’t new information, but try to imagine how many of these are broken on a weekly basis by fans both in the stands and in their homes. I would venture to say almost all of them. Understand that the rules don’t say anything about the privacy of your home being immune to these rules. Are you taking your hat off and standing in your living room when you’re by yourself? Think about the thousands that cheer when it’s over.
Some have noticed these inconsistencies and pointed out the hypocrisy. Guess what? They are right to do it. Still, we all have the right to peacefully protest whatever we want because this is a free country. This means you can kneel if you want and this means that you are free to stop watching games if you want. Just keep in mind that the vast majority are running the risk of coming across as immature and politically inconsistent if they do either at this point.
In spite of the back and forth, I think it’s also important to note that the protests continue on both sides and that nobody is being oppressed into stopping them. So clearly someone needs to revisit the definition of “oppression”. Yes, some of the owners are threatening to fire players but this is no different than if you worked at a bank and decided to use the front lobby as your platform; you run the risk of getting fired when acting out like that. The business has customers to appease and you acting out will likely chase some customers away. You still have the freedom to say what you want and you won’t go to jail for it, but that doesn’t mean your actions are without consequence when you are being paid by someone else for your time.
The players are not the only ones protesting though. I think people that disagree with the player’s position are peacefully protesting by voicing their disagreement, burning jerseys or boycotting the games. If the players or teams don’t mind losing money from those they are pissing off, that’s on them but the fans have the right and freedom to disagree. They shouldn’t necessarily be ridiculed for their protest any more than those taking a knee. And guess what? Nobody on either side needs to die a horrible death for their actions. One side doesn’t get the monopoly on protest and it’s quite hypocritical to suggest that they do. However, the protests on both sides seem silly when you really think about it.
The players are protesting the deaths of young black men by police officers – or so we are told. Maybe they really are but according to the Washington Post, in July of 2016, 1,502 people had been shot and killed by on-duty police officers since Jan. 1, 2015. Of them, 732 were white, and 381 were black. Seems like there is something to unite about because it seems everyone is affected. Or how about this? Why are more people not concerned about the fact that roughly three officers are arrested every day for various crimes and that 40% of crimes committed by cops happen on duty? Seems like something to unite about there as well. If you are one to turn this into a racial thing, then why are more people not concerned about the fact that 93 percent of black homicide victims are killed by other blacks or that 84 percent of white homicide victims are killed by other whites? It’s as though we have lost our collective minds.
But here is my biggest problem with all of this; the flag and/or the anthem do not represent cops and cops do not represent the flag or the anthem. Ironically, most people on either side do not know the documents these things actually represent or the irony of associating one with the other. Furthermore, most officers, soldiers and citizens couldn’t recite Article 4 Section 4 of the Constitution without having to look it up and nobody questions how or why we all pledge allegiance, take an oath, love or even hate something we simply do not know. If you don’t like cops acting in tyrannical ways, perhaps you should have a better handle on the laws that restrict them and that render the supposed laws they are enforcing null and void and then work to get rid of those laws. Just a thought.
Here is the deal though. We all have something to be very angry about and those reasons have nothing to do with heritage, cops, color, political lean, statues, bathrooms, sexual orientation or anything else that is being shoved down our throats as of late. What about our economic state? What about the value of your currency? What about taxation? What about the NSA? What about the IRS? What about our corrupt politicians? What about the erosions of our rights? What about the fact that we call ourselves a free country but we have more laws than we can count and incarcerate more people than any other nation for violations of law that are literally repugnant to the Constitution? Which by the way… this is not the fault of law enforcement; this is the fault of YOU demanding something from your government. This is similar to the fact that most of this is NOT the fault of any president in our lifetime and of which all could be easily corrected by the Congress YOU elect – if you could only come together?
I think the biggest problem we face today is a lack of political and ideological consistency. I blame a lot of this on government run education but still. I find it odd that most pick sides of a situation based on what their opponents believe instead of what is right or even accurate. There also seems to be a lack of research from all and this is true on almost all political hot points (immigration, slavery, Native Americans, Civil War, constitution, police shootings, race, etc). Instead of trying to find a reason to oppose one another, I think we should be attempting to foster a culture of enlightenment. If we want to survive as a nation, we need to stop buying into this whole divide and conquer plan which is working out so well for those in power.
Look, if a Democrat wants to take a knee during a song that was written by a Democrat and made the national anthem by a Democrat, it doesn’t automatically make him or her a bad person any more than if a Republican wants to boycott a player for kneeling during the anthem while wiping their face with an American flag napkin and ignoring the news about the player doing drugs, assaulting women and murdering innocent people prior. Additionally, if the NFL wants to pretend to support the player’s freedom of expression by allowing them to kneel after banning their open support of dead cops or 9/11, and everyone want to buy into that… then whatever. The whole thing is crazy anyway. I suppose this doesn’t make anyone “bad”. What it does is demonstrate a high degree of inconsistency, ignorance or confusion by all.
You see, I don’t disagree with the player’s reasons for kneeling entirely but if the players want to the follow the example of a sub-par player in his hypocritical statement saying he wants ‘freedom for all people’ while wearing a Fidel Castro t-shirt and talking about oppression by white people having grown up in an upper middle class white household, let them. There is a reason why jocks have a certain stereotype when it comes to their intellect and there is a reason why I don’t turn to them for my political research or opinion. On that same note, don’t preach about the importance of free speech surrounding this issue after trying to say that certain flags can’t be flown or that certain people can’t spread a conservative message because you think they are offensive. Speech is either protected or it’s not… you are not going to have it both ways.
Of course, I don’t disagree with those who oppose kneeling during the anthem entirely either, but if people are going to complain and spew hatred for those players while continually breaking every other part of the flag code and demanding the restriction of rights because they don’t understand that the country they live in is NOT a Christian nation, that it is NOT a democracy and that the 1st Amendment was actually put in place to protect speech that THEY disagree with, then so be it. But nobody should act surprised when flags and monuments are taken down in the name of offensive statements after demanding people like Kathy Griffin be silenced for poor taste or when asking football teams to force their players to stand because you think that what they are doing is offensive. Speech is either protected or it’s not… you are not going to have it both ways.
I’m a constitutionalist. You all have the right to be as inconsistent as you want and protest accordingly. Of course I believe police and government in general are out of control but I also believe the people are ignorant of their responsibilities to correct it as well. I think left-leaning revisionist history has done more harm than good but I also think that ignorance on both sides has led to protesting the effect, not the cause. Unfortunately, until people are ready to see certain truths, they will not understand the cause and this is going to get worse… not better. Ignorance is NOT bliss… it’s dangerous.
Of course, quite a few who read this will not agree anyway because it opposes what they have already sold themselves on the topic. Regardless, the facts remain and cherry picking your protest from incomplete information or inconsistent premises is not going to solve anything. Continue your protests either way. I’ll support your right to do it while I shake my head in response to your ignorance and inconsistencies.
That being said… if you’re interested in learning some of the historical truths that you were not allowed to learn in high school, I would encourage you get a copy of the following two books:
And for the love whatever you hold dear… stop being so quick follow a trend. Try something different… think for yourself!
UPDATE: A couple of interesting stories for some added perspective.