Sometimes a Flag is Just a Flag

Photo: Joshua Nathanson

The recent furor over NFL players kneeling for the National Anthem has become increasingly distressing. I’d fully expect Trump to go the fascist route and show hostility towards dissent, but I can’t believe that so many of the American people would go along with him. Fully half of Americans believe NFL players are in the wrong by engaging in peaceful protests, and half also believe that the league should force its players to stand.

What’s the problem? Do you not want to get politics mixed up in your sports? Perhaps you shouldn’t let four minutes of kneeling overshadow the several hours of football you’re about to enjoy!

Do you feel the flag is being disrespected? The flag is an inanimate object – it will be fine. No one fights and dies for a flag. A flag is a symbol, and our soldiers have fought for the freedoms the flag represents. Do you really want to make the case that NFL players should simultaneously be thankful to live in a country with freedom of expression and not exercise that freedom? Are you more concerned with the mistreatment of a piece of cloth than the mistreatment of American citizens?

Do you think the protesters are disrespecting America? It’s possible to be glad to be American and grateful to be American without being proud to be American. You can love America and recognize its imperfections – in fact, that’s the only way to truly make America great again!

As usual, it’s a good rule of thumb that Trump is on the wrong side of an issue. Part of being president is recognizing that individuals are free to disagree with you, and to use more dignified language that “son of a bitch” to talk about them. Part of being president is realizing that America is not a “love it or leave it” arrangement; someone like Colin Kaepernick can work to change the country he has, rather than “find a country that works better for him“.