FLAG ON THE FIELD: WHY THEY KNEEL

A black hockey player from Canada was asked if he would kneel during the United States anthem. His answer was NEVER, citing respect.

NHL gained a lot of fans this week because several notable hockey personalities were respectful to the United States. The kindness and professionalism hockey players demonstrated means a LOT to us.

Contrast this with the behavior of Jaguars and Ravens players Sunday in England. They honored that country when they stood for “God Save the Queen.”

But they knelt during AMERICA’s National Anthem.

American citizens, in another country, embarrassing the United States. That set the tone for the disastrous and divisive weekend that followed, as their misguided cohorts on other NFL teams would soon find progressively inflammatory ways to offend our patriotism, our character, and even our intelligence.

Why? Why did they kneel?

Several reasons have been offered:

1) PROTEST

The first time that Colin Kapernick knelt during the anthem in 2016, he was asked by NFL.com why he was doing it and what it meant.

He answered: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

More elaboration specified police brutality, and Kaepernick wore socks depicting cartoon police pigs.

So the Kaepernick position cannot be rationalized with respect for the country or its institutions. Kaepernick specifically told us he was kneeling to dishonor the flag and country. IT WAS THE ENTIRE POINT.

2) SOLIDARITY WITH KAEPERNICK

Many of the kneelers sported shirts or used hashtags online to say “I’m with Kap” because Kapernick was not signed by any teams for 2017, despite NFL.com pushing so hard for him to be.

When the alternative locking of arms was used, Kapernick supporters often mocked them. It was always known and explicitly stated that this was a PROTEST.

Whether someone kneeling to support Kaepernick intends the same deliberate dishonor he did is irrelevant. If the flag and country don’t mean more to you than the employment of a man EVERY NFL team REFUSED to sign, then your disregard for the flag and country is of no more value to the nation than Kaepernick’s explicit anti-American sentiment.

3) KNEELS FOR FEELS

Mike Tomlin, who raised funds for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary, told the media Sunday that some of his players wouldn’t stand because of “the comments of the President.”

If you can’t make your players do something important that they’ve always done because their feelings got hurt, maybe they shouldn’t be playing, and you probably shouldn’t be coaching.

Just like the “I’m with Kap” angle, this demonstrates such a callous disregard for America that it is functionally no better than active disrespect.

I would remind Tomlin that so many of us hated Obama and Hillary. Obama and Hillary routinely targeted us with a litany of insults. We didn’t desecrate the national anthem ceremony. Unlike Kaepernick, we responded on Election Day.

4) EVERYONE ELSE WAS DOING IT

It’s interesting that the most common complaint of kneelers is the criminal justice system. Because some of the players who were kneeling this weekend are not in prison because their court trials went in their favor.

One of those was Ray Lewis.

Lewis said he knelt Sunday because the young guys were doing it. Yes, he said that.

Previously Lewis had discouraged Kaepernick’s actions, so his kneeling on Sunday against the anthem was especially noteworthy, and not received well by many longtime Kaepernick supporters.

In an attempt to elaborate with some substance, Lewis cited concern for mothers of black men killed by police (I think), describing them as “families who sacrificed everything.” If that wasn’t an intentional stab at military families, I wonder what words he would have chosen if such WERE his intent.

So Lewis did it because young players were doing it. Some of them were doing it because Kaepernick did it.

And when Kaepernick did it, he called it NOT “standing up to honor” a country’s flag.

So it doesn’t really matter WHY you feel or say you are kneeling.

The act always was, and always will be, perceived as the dishonor Kaepernick intended.

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