Taking a Knee: Disrespectful or Definitively Free Speech?


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Mix of Redskin players kneeling and standing for our anthem. — Google Common License

Once-quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked a fire that fueled social turmoil not only in the NFL but all across America. In 2016, Kaepernick protested police brutality (specifically towards African-Americans) with a simple gesture: kneeling during our national anthem. Despite the peaceful approach to protesting, the reaction from players and politicians alike has been and continues to be immense and fierce. President Donald Trump has proved to be against the protest, tweeting “Two dozen NFL players continue to kneel during the National Anthem, showing total disrespect to our Flag & Country. No leadership in NFL!” Others praise Kaepernick for his call to action, as Time magazine describes the efforts as “The Perilous Fight” . The controversy is a larger reality than the NFL, and a question arises from the midst of chaos; is kneeling during our national anthem disrespectful or the definition of free speech? The answer is simple; it’s both.

One of the biggest arguments coming from the kneeling controversy is the correlation between our flag and national anthem, and the matter of police brutality on the other hand. There is  between the two; it makes as much sense as to kneel during a touchdown or a field goal. The reasoning to kneel is to protest Americans who tolerate police brutality, yet it is against the law to do so. From the newsrooms to the undeniable and justified anger from social media, there seems to be no acceptance of such disgusting crimes besides the policemen who commit them themselves. I’m sure groups of people that tolerate such crimes exist, but the majority of Americans that I have at least met do not think such crimes are just. I am not against what these players stand for, but I am against the way they are protesting.

Another controversial topic is the right to kneel during our national anthem. While some say it’s not your choice to make, with President Trump ordering a petition to combat the protest, it is a basic right. The Supreme Court does not encourage such actions but do protect the rights of these players. It’s considered proper edicate to stand for our anthem, not mandatory. Americans have the right to freedom of speech, therefore having the right to kneel. We must remember that others also have the right to speak against the kneeling, but do not have the right to stop it. The are protesting peacefully, and as long as no physical harm is done, they have the right to continue.

This conversation is far from over; the friction between the two sides continues to grow. As the tensions rise and as we pursue to question our rights, we must remember the humanity that holds us together. We need to talk, and we need to talk peacefully.