Looks like the president’s done it again!
His comments about athletes taking a knee during the national anthem have ignited a firestorm of criticism and controversy. Why?
Because he tapped into a vein of anger amongst a good deal of Americans who think that Colin Kaepernick and those who have followed in his footsteps are in fact disrespecting the flag and those who have served under it. When the Kaepernick brouhaha first broke, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was asked to give his thoughts on the matter. His answer, simply put, was that he himself would not do such a thing and disagreed with Kaepernick, but that it was his right to do so. As a result, Mr. Newton was pilloried by sports and political talking heads for not wanting to take a side. They got it wrong, he got it right.
Those who have gone before me, those who still serve, and those who eventually will, do this nation’s work and in the process, also protect our rights, regardless of political leanings. Those rights come from our creator and not a piece of paper or any earthly entity. The Constitution, despite what we’ve been told, is a set of negative liberties detailing what government cannot do to its citizenry. I don’t appreciate Mr. Kaepernick’s actions, although I wouldn’t raise them to the level of someone who burns Bibles, Korans, flags, or any other deeply held symbol of faith or patriotism. But, then again, doing any of the above is well within their right to do so.
All of these players chose to make a political and social statement. Again, that’s their choice and right. But, as a result of doing this, they have now elevated themselves to the level of role models (despite NBA great Charles Barkley’s now infamous comments). That, whether they like it or not, has now become a burden that they are going to have to shoulder for some time to come. The NFL, NBA, MLB or any other sports leagues are businesses. If the fans decide that they want nothing to do with these teams because of what their players do, then that’s their business. After all, money talks. The president’s comments about team owners canning these players was misinformed. These players are represented by player associations, which in effect are labor unions. Because of this, there are collective bargaining agreements that govern the interactions between players and management. It’s doubtful that anything will ever happen.
It would be wise for all of us to keep in mind that what some consider disrespectful conduct may be looked upon by others as a legitimate form of protest. The founding fathers never wanted us to walk in lockstep with every opinion out there. They wanted healthy, reasoned discussion and yes, even vigorous debate. But at the end of the day, we were supposed to shake hands and agree to disagree if nothing else could be agreed upon. I’m sure that there will be those who agree with the contents this quick scribble and those who won’t. After all, this is America.