Tensions rise between the US and a newly nuclear North Korea, hurricanes devastate communities in the Gulf of Mexico, a genocide in Myanmar, new tax legislation is debated in Congress, etc. However, headlines have been dominated by another issue.
Par for the course, our sensationalized news-givers have chosen to lead with the controversy about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem. Our nauseating 24-hour news cycle has covered this topic with endless interviews/debates full of people only qualified because they have a Twitter account. President Trump has also thrown gasoline on the news media’s frenzy by firing insults at NFL players using profanity and his famous “you’re fired”.
Anyways, it seems that people have come from every corner and from under every rock to give their misinformed opinion on this First Amendment issue.
NFL players, like all Americans, have the right to express themselves . And the NFL as a private organization has the right to discipline these players. These athletes are not kneeling or locking arms to insult the flag or their country. They are peacefully protesting what they believe are a serious issues or they are showing solidarity with their fellow citizens.
Freedom of expression is an important societal safety valve that allows for people to vent. John F. Kennedy said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” It is extremely dangerous and foolish to silence or disregard the grievances of a specific group of Americans. Violence is an easier answer when society tells people that peaceful protests and expressions are not acceptable (Trevor Noah correctly identifies the backwardness in the constant criticism of how a certain group of Americans protest).
One last thought! President Trump’s Tweet below is ridiculous. He lacks a coherent message with regard to this absurd debate. I sometimes wince at people not putting their hand over their heart during the National Anthem honoring the country I love. However, kneeling is a miniscule action (used as a sign of reverence for millennia) compared to what these frustrated individuals could do during our holy song that most people do not even know the words too.