Colin Kaepernick has been under fire since August of 2016 for making the decision to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem. He has received national press coverage for this action, and has even influenced other athletes to take a knee as well. The issue has been made relevant again as our inglorious leader Donald Trump recently spoke about the gesture, calling for all of these athletes to be fired. Yet, Colin Kaepernick should continue taking a knee, and performing such an act of civil disobedience to raise awareness for Black Lives Matter.
Kaepernick stated in an interview this week that he is not standing during the playing of the anthem because he is “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” This act of civil disobedience is in response to the murders of several innocent people by police officers, and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The national anthem is played as a reflection on the rights we have and a national identity. It makes sense that the most effective protest that Kaepernick could orchestrate would be one which defies this identity, calling out what we as a nation truly stand for.
Many have argued that taking a knee during the national anthem is disrespectful to the military. This is a terrible argument. The entire point of a military is to protect a country, allowing those within its borders to be free. This would allow for acts of protest, especially in the form of civil disobedience. Colin Kaepernick is not taking a knee because he hates the military or the freedom of America; he is taking a knee as a way to draw attention to a matter that is important. Kaepernick is arguing that the national anthem glorifies a nation which doesn’t stand for its people, and therefore he has no reason to stand for the anthem.
Taking a knee should not be considered an act of disrespect towards the flag either. While it is an act of defiance, it is not one which burns or destroys a flag, nor is it a form of hate speech or slander. Taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem is a more acceptable thing to do than wearing an American flag as apparel. Saying people “should” stand does not mean that they “must” stand. Saying that anyone “must” stand for the anthem violates the first amendment.
It is unconstitutional to require anyone to stand for a pledge or for an anthem. It is a violation of a person’s choice, and would remove their civil liberties as a citizen of the United States. Not standing for the national anthem should be an action which is respected for what it is – an act of defiance against wrongdoings rather than the disrespectful action that so many are claiming it is.
Taking a knee is a very efficient way of protesting. It is using a position of power to send a message that is important, and using a method of non-violence to do so. Kaepernick has not violated any laws, nor is he trying to be disrespectful to this country. He is attempting to shed light onto the murders of innocent civilians, and has used a peaceful gesture to show that there is something wrong with this country, and that we need to talk about it.
Kaepernick should be supported for this protest, whether people support the Black Lives Matter movement or not. It is our right in America to peacefully protest what we deem unjust. We as a nation should be proud that we can perform such a gesture and not be fearful for our fates. We should appreciate our right to protest peacefully, and that Americans are free to state our cause without condemnation.