I believe our flag is more than just cloth and ink. It is a universally recognized symbol that stands for liberty, and freedom. It is the history of our nation, and it’s marked by the blood of those who died defending it. Standing for the National Anthem is a small way for people to pay their respects to those who have served or lost their lives for our freedoms. There have been many that have sided with those who have kneeled, but they failed to realize the utter disrespect and impact they are having on this country and its veterans as well as current service men and women.
The movement for kneeling during the National Anthem was formulated by former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick. The reasoning behind this movement was to protest against and raise awareness of police brutality and racism. In the year 2016, 200 NFL players kneeled in support of this movement.
In this country, the flag is the symbol of liberty, faith, and courage, and reminds us of the past sacrifices that were made to make this country into the great one it is today.
I have studied the reasoning behind kneeling and the causes for police brutality and racism for hours, looking at articles discussing both sides of the matter, watching NFL games, and debating with people that have a different viewpoint as myself. First I will argue why you should not use the National Anthem and the flag as the target for your protests and how it is disrespectful and the effects it had, as well as touching on how police brutality is rarely the cops fault. Second, I will discuss the opposing sides argument as to why kneeling for the National Anthem was justifiable and how they believe cops are to blame for the death of these citizens. Lastly, I will counterargue the opposing side, exposing their flaws and showing why my argument is stronger
Why kneeling is disrespectful towards our armed forces and veterans and how it negatively affected the NFL’s ratings, as well as causing aggression towards cops? Kneeling for the National Anthem has caused the NFL a great deal of money back in 2017 when ticket sales dropped 17.9% on TickPick and 31% on Ticket City. The NFLs TV ratings also plunged by 11% in viewership. In a survey by NBC News, asking the public if kneeling was an appropriate way to protest, the majority of the pubic voted in favor of the kneeling NOT being an appropriate way to protest and that they should find a different way (Dann, 2018).
In a separate survey by ESPN, they concluded that 40% of the public were less interested in football after witnessing the kneeling (Global Strategy Group, 2017). As a part of a family full of present and former military members, I have experienced exactly how they feel about this act of protest. In the military the flag is revered and is a sign of honor, and sacrifice. During the time of the kneelings, every military personnel I talked to about this subject felt it was disrespectful towards them and felt they needed to bench anybody that kneeled.
The opposing view believes that the kneeling for the National Anthem is helping them gain awareness on the matter of police brutality. In the eyes of the opposing view point, they see that when there is a police killing it is always an African American or someone of color. When they see someone of color killed, they immediately think it is racially motivated and the cop who killed him should be jailed. In the year 2013, nation wide there were 5,986 reports of misconduct, 382 fatalities linked to misconduct from police brutality (Chaney & Robertson, 2013). This is a very alarming number and cannot be overlooked. In the past, groups have been founded such as Black Lives Matter to raise awareness of the same issue Colin Kaepernick was protesting and raising awareness for. They do not see the flag as a positive symbol in this country, they see it as a symbol of hate and racism. In their eyes the cop is always in the wrong, no matter if the victim came at the cop or not. If the victim was black and was killed, it is immediately the cops fault. They also believe that cops are out to get minorities and this theory causes them to be afraid and act out against law enforcement.
While many police killings may be of a minority as I stated earlier the majority of people killed by police are white people. While I do believe there are some rogue cops just as there are bad people in all professions, the majority of cops are law abiding. If they end up killing someone the majority of the time they are justified in their efforts to serve and protect their community. In the opposing view they see a minority that was killed by police and call it racially motivated but do not account for the fact that there is still a very good percentage of minorities that are in law enforcement. The other side has become engulfed in playing the race card rather than looking at evidence as the majority of the time when a civilian is killed by a cop it is to protect his or herself. I know there are cops out there that have killed unarmed civilians for no reason and I feel these police officers should get a significant amount of jail time. While I do feel like Black Lives Matter has done its job in getting media coverage and getting the word out, I do not feel as though there has been change in holding these cops accountable for unlawful actions. I feel as though these groups are causing others to form a hatred for cops which is causing more and more violence as many now see cops as ‘pigs’ and not a human being with a family. While many view the flag as a sign of hatred and resentment it is really a symbol of honor and sacrifice. There is a reason when a soldier is killed in the line of duty that he is buried with an American flag draped over his casket. The flag to a soldier represents freedom and they go to war in order to protect our freedom and rights.
I love my country. The USA was founded by men who believed that united, our people could build a stronger, more prosperous, and happier society. The flag and National Anthem are the symbols that represent our incredible country. Kneeling during the National Anthem destroys the bond that keeps us united as a people. I believe we can address issues of police brutality and racism without dividing our nation and showing disrespect for our flag. I urge you to stand up for our nation, and flag, and ask that you continue to your support by showing respect to those that have served this great nation.
- Chaney, C., & Robertson, R. V. (2013). Racism and police brutality in america. Journal of African American Studies, 17(4), 480–505.
- Dann, C. (2018, August 31). NBC/WSJ poll: Majority say kneeling during anthem ‘not appropriate’. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/nbc-wsj-poll-majority-say-kneeling-during-anthem-not-appropriate-n904891
- Global Strategy Group. (2017, September 29). ESPN survey shows americans interested, divided on nfl protests during national anthem. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/20858557/espn-survey-shows-americans-interested-divided-nfl-protests-national-anthem
- Feldman, J. M., Gruskin, S., Coull, B. A., & Krieger, N. (2019). Police-related deaths and neighborhood economic and racial/ethnic polarization, United States, 2015– 2016. American Journal of Public Health, 109(3), 458–464.
- Kemmelmeier, M., & Winter, D. G. (2008). Sowing patriotism, but reaping nationalism? Consequences of exposure to the american flag. Political Psychology, 29(6), 859–879.
- Sinyangwe, S. (2017). Mapping police violence. Retrieved from https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/
- Thune, J. (2019). patriotism quotes. Retrieved from https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/patriotism-quotes