To Kneel or Not to Kneel?
Week 3 of the NFL season has been met with a lot of controversy after more than 200 players, managers and coaches, as well as some of team owners kneeled and locked arms in solidarity during the National Anthem which sparked many other different sports and high school athletes to do the same. This has caused a lot of backlash from a wide variety of citizens with the President even tweeting “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”However, there has also been a lot of praise for the players for their bold act against a lot of hatred and some players even getting death threats. This all started a year ago when Colin Kaepernick, at the time a San Francisco 49ers quarterback, kneeled during the anthem. He stated that he refuses to “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” A year later, many are following suit, with even his former team all kneeling during the pledge. We will discuss different reasons on why people condemn the players for this act and why some praise them.
The people praising the player’s stance is the fact that it is their first amendment right, the right of freedom of speech, and that they shouldn’t be fired, penalized or anything else simply for stating what they believe in. When this first started with Kaepernick, former president Barack Obama stated “I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing but I also Always try to remind folks that part of what makes this country special is that we respect people’s rights to have a different opinion and to make different decisions on how they want to express their concerns.” Many people are also saying that the whole point of this protest was to focus on the way the country treats specific people and how some believe the Commander in Chief isn’t doing his job properly, not about purposely disrespecting the military and what they have done for the country.
On the other side, many people state that this is a wrong immoral way of protesting and that somebody with such a platform, like a footballer, should not be pushing their personal agenda when so many people and children look up to them and follow suit. They also argue that it’s a direct disrespectful thing to do to the men and women who served this country protecting our rights. President Trump tweeted a flurry of tweets antagonizing the NFL and its owners for doing nothing about their players that kneeled during the Anthem. However, many that agreed with him disagreed with how he said things. During a speech at an Alabama rally, President Trump said “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a ***** off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” He also went on to talk about the NFL’s falling ratings due to rule changes implemented over the last few years to make the game less violent and limit head injuries. This comment led to many more athletes taking a knee during the song. Many also stated that failing to stand for the Anthem, just begins more problems and causes division in the country.
We asked three different Ferguson history teachers’ three questions on this topic to better explain the situation. Mr. Duggan teaches 11th grade US History, Mr. Wheeler teaches 12th grade Government & Economics, as does Mr. Tunez
The controversial situation has many people wondering if football players should kneel during the National Anthem or not, which contributed to some of our teachers to give their opinion on the matter, since it correlates to their subject of expertise, in this case: U.S. Government
“I believe it is firmly their constitutional right to do so, I recognize also the NFL can punish them if they choose to do although I hope they wouldn’t, and I do agree with the original intent of the protest which is racial inequality,”Mr. Wheeler said.
“Personally, if you think of the implications it is someone rejecting the country, so I understand why it is so controversial however the statement is accurate as in ‘This country has rejected me so why would I stand for it?’ so I believe I understand both sides of the argument,” said Mr. Tunez
“I think it is inappropriate there is other ways to protest that don’t have to be during the national anthem,”Mr. Duggan said.
People have also been debating if President Trumps response was appropriate, since he approached this conflict with an aggressive tone that some people may say diminished the athletes and their morality as citizens of the country.
“Well, I think President Trumps response to just about anything is inappropriate but especially this,”Mr. Wheeler said.
“As a president, it was highly inappropriate. The job of the head of state is to bring comfort to the nation and he’s not fulfilling that role,”Mr. Tunez said.
“It could’ve been said more politically appropriate and he could’ve represented himself politically better with a much better statement,”Mr. Duggan said.
When asked why or why not they thought it was an appropriate or inappropriate response and how he could’ve better presented himself, if inappropriate.
Mr. Wheeler: “There is no reason to name call, to get vulgar and all of this response has had no recognition to the message that they were trying to convey and that just goes to show how blind he is to the racial situation in America.”
Mr. Tunez: “It’s okay for him to take a position but the way he spoke of it and the tone is just completely wrong and not a good message to send to the citizens.”
Mr. Duggan: “I don’t think he should’ve told the NFL owners to fire them in such an arrogant way. Maybe he could’ve said that there’s a time and place to protesting and the national anthem isn’t the right time and I believe that is why so many protested.”
Whether you agree with the football players or disagree, it is always important to know where you stand on certain issues and be aware of your surroundings and things that are happening in your country, either positive or negative.
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