Standing for the national anthem is un-American. Well, ok maybe not, but forcing me to stand for it against my will certainly is. Citizens of a nation who idolize individual liberties are upset that their fellow citizens can and will choose whether to observe a tradition in regards to a symbol that is thought to be the very symbol of freedom. Not only is protesting injustice about the most American thing one can do but publically bullying those protestors is wholeheartedly un-American.

Recently a trend has started in sports for players to protest during the national anthem. Citing social injustice, players protest by kneeling during the traditional playing of the anthem at the beginning of events. The #TakeAKnee movement as a protest is a trend made popular by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Publicity over the protest grew this summer as allegations of racism began to bubble over the unsigned employment status of Kaepernick. As publicity for the movement grows more and more players are now standing, or rather, kneeling in solidarity with Kaepernick. Naturally, as the concept has received more publically attention over the past weeks, it has also received more public scrutiny.  

So, what is important about the US Flag? Is it the symbol itself, or what it stands for that is important? The flag we commonly accept as the symbol of our country is just that a symbol and not worth our devotion, however, our culture and lifestyle are. The important part to hold on to isn’t the American flag or the American dream, it’s the American spirit that holds value in our lives.

The spirit that told oppressors ruling government that we as a people will not be unjustly held captive by the demands of tyranny. A spirit that has inspired millions of American to fight and die for the mere idealism of liberty and freedom. A spirit that has lead to not one, not, two, not even three, but four separate civil rights movements.

However, this week we will sit around our water coolers to debate the sanctity of ritualistic symbol worship. In fact today, September 25th, 2017, marks the 60 year anniversary of the famous Little Rock Central High school segregation crisis. Following a supreme court ruling in Brown V. Board of Education, 7 African-American students were desegregated into the “whites-only” school district of Little Rock, Arkansas. Leading to the formation of a large and unruly protest, which results in the National Guard being called in for crowd control.  

Six of the seven students that walked the hallways of a formerly whites-only school are still alive and will be speaking in Little Rock today in regards to how far we’ve come as a society, but more importantly to the distance, we still have yet to travel. Those 6 people remember a time when they were directly victimized by institutional racism.

Right now there are millions of Americans who don’t feel their rights, or needs are being met by our societal institutions. So, in peaceful protest the richest and most influential of that population kneel to show their concern for their community, however, in the spirit of social tyranny, these protestors are called “sons of bitches” by their own compatriots.

Critics of the protest claim that the actions of the protestors are disrespectful to the flag and what it stands for. Even, President Donald J. Trump said at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama on September 23rd: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,”.

However, the argument over disrespecting a symbol it terribly misguided.

I don’t want to disrespect the veterans, especially those who gave life, limb, or sanity to protect my culture and lifestyle. I don’t want to disrespect my values and ideals as an American. I don’t want to disrespect my fellow citizens by ignoring their pleas for help, but I don’t give a damn about a symbol when the spirit of that symbol is in jeopardy.

A true patriot should be more concerned with standing up with their brothers and sisters against injustice and tyranny. While you kneel I will stand, I will stand beside you and defend you.  

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