Letter: On kneeling in the NFL

Regarding Dr. Paul Jankiewicz’ letter to the editor: Colin Kaepernick began protesting police killings of unarmed black men, women, and children by sitting for the National Anthem. Nate Boyer, an Army vet, former Green Beret, and NFL center, suggested to Kaepernick that he kneel, instead.

In a USA Today interview, Boyer said, “I expressed to him, maybe there’s a different way of demonstrating, where you’re showing more respect for those who laid down their lives for what that flag and anthem stand for. I suggested kneeling, because people kneel to pray; we’ll kneel in front of a fallen brother’s grave.”

Players are not protesting the flag or the National Anthem. If you would like the NFL to show respect for the flag, demand they take the flag off the uniforms, stop carrying the flag horizontally and, for goodness’ sake, get representations of the flag off of beer cans and cups at the stadiums. All of those things are against the U.S. Flag Code, but they happen every game day in the NFL.

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I genuflect every time I enter a church, I knelt in front of my father’s casket and I was on my knees to ask for my bride’s hand in marriage. I don’t believe anyone can say this is not a respectful gesture, even if made in protest.

Andy Champ-Doran

Kingston

There are 17 comments

  1. L & T

    Totally agree!! Certain individuals want to have an excuse to claim disrespect of the flag and our country. Educate yourself and see it for what it is. A respectful display of a first amendment right.

  2. pete herring

    You genuflect in church because that’s what we’re taught to do to show respect. It’s what everyone does. With the National Anthem, professional athletes are taught to line up, remove headware and stand at attention. Just as it is disrespectful to kneel in church, it is disrespectful as a pro athlete to kneel during the national anthem.

    Based on your logic, someone at church could decide to draw attention to themselves by not kneeling because they have some problem with the church. When asked why by annoyed fellow congregants, they could say, “you stand for the National Anthem, therefore it’s respectful for me to stand in church.”

    1. S B 3

      With all due respect – EVERYONE kneels in church; more than 15-minutes of a Catholic Mass are spent kneeling. And you know more than anyone else, children, the elderly, people with issues who can’t kneel SIT!

      Your argument is not serious or based in any fact. Every single American has the Constituional Right to Peaceful Protest. Kneeling during the National Anthem is exactly that, and nothing more. It has brought attention to real life serious issues impacting millions of Americans – and anyone arguing that it disrespects the flag is speaking from either an uninformed heart, or a racist heart, nothing more.

      These men, and science is proving it more than ever, put themselves at serious brain injury risk in every game so you can sit at home and stuff your face with ribs, wings, and chips while swilling beer to be entertained by big boobed cheerleaders and a gladiator sport. I also am 99% certain YOU do not stand for the National Anthem while partying in your man cave or the local pub. I’ll put $1,000 down on that as a sure bet. Double standard? You bet you speak from a double standard.

      Shame on you.

      Stop the nonsense…IT IS A GAME FOR PROFIT AND NOTHING MORE.

      1. pete herring

        Your church comparison is totally illogical. Obviously if an elderly person can’t kneel because they have bad knees they don’t have to. The same would go for a player who couldn’t stand — though he wouldn’t be on the active roster in that condition. But obviously a player with an inability to stand would not draw any attention because he wasn’t making a choice.

        My argument is based in fact. Your argument is based on… I don’t know what, I guess a false assumption that every evaluation of every action comes down to whether or not it’s a constitutionally protected right, and any action that is a such a right is above criticism. I am not arguing that the free speech doesn’t apply. I’m arguing that it is disrespectful. Disrespectful actions made in protest are covered by the 1st amendment. Doesn’t mean they’re not disrespectful.

  3. Steven L Fornal

    Mr. Herring…The problem with your view is that Colin Kaepernick decided to exercise his First Amendment rights in the manner HE chose. What you or anyone else thinks about that is irrelevant vis-a-vis HIS FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT to protest.

    To deny that there has been a rash of blatant murders of unarmed black men by authorities without any consequences, is to deny reality.

    Kaepernick took a stand by kneeling. It’s all you other folks that are trying to make it into a disrespectful gesture. That’s on you, not him

    1. pete herring

      Sorry, but whether something is disrespectful or not is something that we all get to decide for ourselves. When my son tells my wife to “shut up” when she asks him to clean his room when he’s playing video games, he may be exercising his first amendment rights in a manner that he chose, but it is still disrespectful.

      However, I do agree that what I or anyone else thinks about it is irrelevant to whether he has the right to protest. We’re not talking about whether the protest is constitutional, we’re talking about whether it is disrespectful. I argue that it is. The whole point was to take a moment when all other players were being respectful toward the flag and the nation and not participate because the kneeling players had an issue they wanted to protest. It signals that the symbol of the country is not worth respecting as long as that country is “allowing” the situation they’re protesting to persist. The goal of any protest is to draw attention to itself, so in that sense it was successful, far more successful that it would be to stand for the National Anthem and simply make public statements criticizing police actions and the justice system. But it drew attention mainly because many of us found it disrespectful. That much is obvious.

      1. Steven L Fornal

        No, Mr. Herring…it is YOU that talking about it being disrespectful. Kaepernick eloquently explained why he did what he did and it had nothing at all to do with disrespect. That is what President Trump and like thinking folks like you that decided it was disrespectful. But, that’s the point.

        You, of course can make anything about anything inside your own mind. I think we need to ask why this display of First Amendment rights is so troubling as to force people to change the intended meaning to one which can be openly disliked.

        Latent racism explains it perfectly: You know the uppity n***** syndrome? Can’t have that. I mean, the proper patriotic response would be to acknowledge the intent and then call out for justice which Kaepernick is demanding.

        1. pete herring

          Yes, people like me — anyone in fact! — does get to decide when they feel someone’s actions are disrespectful. I could be alone in that feeling, or it could just be me and the president, or it could be me and a few million other Americans. But the basic point is still true: regardless of whether someone provides their own explanation of how their behavior really isn’t disrespectful (which most anyone being disrespectful would), their view is just that: their view, and not the be all, end all.

          Flag burning is a good example. Is it constitutionally protected? Yes. Is it disrespectful? I believe it is. Is it disrespectful if the person burning the flag intends it as a gesture of disrespect? Yes. Is it disrespectful if the person burning the flag does not intend disrespect but is actually sad that America is not living up to its values of equality for all? Still yes!

          But hey, when in doubt, call someone you disagree with a racist, right? Great debate tactic.

          1. Steven L Fornal

            Actually, you reinforce the latent racism involved in this specific case. You keep saying you have a right to think what Kaepernick did is disrespectful. That’s a strawman argument because no one claimed you didn’t have that right.

            I’m commenting on your original statement: “You genuflect in church because that’s what we’re taught to do to show respect. It’s what everyone does. With the National Anthem, professional athletes are taught to line up, remove headware and stand at attention. Just as it is disrespectful to kneel in church, it is disrespectful as a pro athlete to kneel during the national anthem.”

            YOU believe that quote, that it’s disrespectful. But, that doesn’t make it so. I think the sentence “It’s what everyone does.” shows the latent racism. Because a black man seeing murders without consequence of unarmed black men by officers of the law is the ultimate sign of disrespect. Not to mention, MILLIONS of people tune in to watch NFL football so it’s a huge platform to get a message across.

            Then, once Kaepernick did that, to be black-balled by every NFL team in the league??? It’s punishment, pure and simple. Therefore, exercising his right to Free Speech has a deep cost. Thus, NIKE’s new ad campaign: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

            His belief led him to act. But, because it isn’t bowing to “what everyone does” it’s termed disrespectful. Of course, the fact that now everyone is talking about whether or not what he did was disrespectful and not about the issue he intended to highlight, is another way in which White America smooths over its inherent racism. Just avoid and/or deny there is racism afoot.

  4. JP

    News flash. There is no respect anymore. People don’t respect each other, they don’t respect the flag and our veterans, and they don’t respect God. So if kneeling is not a problem during the National Anthem, how about some not coming out of the locker room during the Anthem. The Eagles had a player this weekend not come out. What’s the excuse for that. There’s always an excuse! We live in an age where no one is held accountable. When I played football in school and didn’t stand for the flag, my coach would have rightfully grabbed me and instantly taught me some respect. That’s what’s missing today in the world. As far as the NFL, I don’t really care. Didn’t watch last year, and I won’t watch again this year. That is MY first amendment right!

    1. Steven L Fornal

      Ahhhh…the “might is right” version of the “righteous path.” Forcing respect, compliance, obedience, servitude is the complete denial of Bill of Rights’ freedoms.

      You can’t exult the glory of the word freedom by enslavement.

      Unless you’re a character in 1984.

  5. JP

    Obviously you don’t have kids, Mr. Fornal. If you did, you would understand what teaching them respect is all about, and it is forced, they don’t learn it on their own. They don’t wake up and just have respect. It needs to be taught. You can go on about your prejudice rants. We’ve heard it a thousand times, and will probably hear it a lot more. But like I said, you probably don’t have kids. If you do, than I’m sure they are all running amok!

    1. Steven L Fornal

      Actually, I prefer teaching by example. Not through force; bending their mind to what I find righteous. Allowing children to actually witness what their parents are all about creates the deepest imprint. Kids pick up on what their parents are really about. Too many times parents force their will on their kids yet contradict those values by lying or being hypocritical (a big bugaboo with children) or just plain failing to live up to their own demands.

      An example: A father demands his son stand for the National Anthem to show respect for the flag, the veterans who fought to protect his rights, to honor America. Yet, the son sees unarmed black men getting murdered by Police and go unpunished. He sees a man stand up to that issue by taking a knee to bring awareness to a mass of people. The father denigrates that man. The son sees you as a hypocrite because you honor the flag more than you honor the truth; America is letting down its people of color. Thus, why should he respect the flag when the rights of many Americans are not forthcoming? When their actual lives are taken in the same breath as the demand for murderers to be honored. When all that you claim to respect/honor is a lie for too many Americans ergo why should they respect/honor the symbols and rituals of that racist reality?

      “Teaching,” via forced belief structure to conform with one’s own, is brain washing. My guess is that the preponderance of kids “running amok” are those running from the imposed propaganda of deceit to the openness of the truth.

  6. JP

    Like I said, you have no kids. It’s obvious. As for your little lesson. It has no foundation. It’s just some imbelished dream of yours. If you had kids, you would teach them respect, period. Like I said, I don’t watch football anymore. That’s my right, along with others like myself. That’s why ratings are dropping, along with the Oscars, Emmys, and all other television where people like yourself are trying to stuff there politics and ideals down our throats. Meanwhile, keep asking players to kneel, and you will see ratings drop more and more. The NFL knows this, they just can’t figure out how to handle it!

  7. Aphrodite

    Who exactly is Mr. Kaepernick specifically disrespecting? It’s not you, obviously. He doesn’t know you. Or me, for that matter.

    He’s never said a word about being against the troops or the flag. That’s a dog whistle created by the racist (conscious or not) right establishment to continue to inflame their divisive “us-vs.-them” strategy.

    I’m not offended by Mr. Kaepernick’s actions. You are. It is our right to have our opinions.

    But in the end, as Mr. Kaepernick exercises this given birthright as an American citizen, it is no one else’s place to prevent or deny him – or any other American – their right to express themselves.

  8. PB

    Why is it that Kaepernik has been targeted for his quiet protest on the football field? I don’t see many objections to those who have verbally expressed their views on the Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes or any other TV venue that commands huge audiences. Let’s not suppress our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and expression any more than they have been by this current administration. I admire Colin for his sacrificial braveness for what he felt was a necessary statement. 99% of Americans don’t bother to express themselves at all for a cause.

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