This past weekend, the NFL was at the forefront of a nationwide political debate. NFL players have been kneeling to bring awareness to social injustice and inequalities towards minorities in the United States of America. This movement was started by Colin Kaepernick on Aug. 26, 2016 when the media finally noticed him kneeling. He was joined by athletes across the nation and started a movement that ultimately left him without a job in the NFL.
Many NFL fans got their wish with Colin Kaepernick out of the league. Despite that, players like Marshawn Lynch kept the fight alive, and right now tensions are at an all time high. Unfortunately, it has shifted from a movement to a debate about disrespecting the American flag and ultimately the military.
President Donald Trump escalated the situation on Twitter over the weekend after a tirade of tweets directed at the NFL. He is calling on his supporters to boycott the NFL until the owners make their players stand. Comments like this from the president are very discouraging to a movement that is protesting peacefully and using their First Amendment rights.
Instead of asking why these players are protesting, the president is creating more division. He is turning it into a movement against the military. Many of Trump’s followers are not willing to listen to any points from the other side. It has reached the point where protesters are accused of disrespecting the military by not standing up for the flag.
That accusation is completely out of line. The military and the flag are not synonymous. The flag is a symbolic representation of the nation as an entirety, which includes everyone who is a citizen of the United States of America. You do not have to be a member of the military to be represented by the flag. It represents every single citizen in the United States. Yes, that includes people in the military, but it also includes the American citizens who are kneeling to raise awareness to their cause.
This movement was never intended to disrespect the military. People of all races and various backgrounds have fought together in the military. If the flag truly was synonymous with the military then yes it would be disrespectful, but that is not the case. The military does not protect a flag. They protect the people the flag represents, which once again includes the people kneeling.
I am very thankful for every single service member and their sacrifice to this country. The military is not being protested in any way. Hopefully, people are willing to eventually distinguish the two one day.
That brings up the next point. The flag isn’t even being protested. The players are using the time that the national anthem is played to peacefully bring awareness to their cause and create a discussion. Saying that the flag is being protested is like saying Rosa Parks protested mass transportation when she refused to give up her seat on the bus. Or that marching on the street is a protest against traffic.
This protest can and will result in positive change. Hopefully people will eventually get past the military hurdle and have the uncomfortable discussion about the issues in the country.