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He Said/She Said: Is Protesting the National Anthem Just?

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Jacob Taylor and Anna Bowers, Assistant Technology Editor + Staff Writer

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He said…

By Jacob Taylor, Assistant Technology Editor 

This question not only fuels a debate full of emotion, but ignores the fundamental question of why athletes are protesting. Colin Kaepernick made it clear that the goal of these protests was to call attention to systemic racism in America. But instead of advocating for the issue, the protests have sparked debate about First Amendment rights in America.

Many believe that the protests are not acceptable due to their disrespectful nature. Actually, many protesters recognize and respect the American troops that fight to protect our rights. By using their platform to promote a peaceful way of bringing about positive change, these protesters embody patriotism. Both fighting overseas and protesting domestically have the same goal: a safer and happier America for all.

There are some that feel that a football field is not the right time and place for a protest. But is there a perfect time to protest? As an NFL player, you have the largest American audience every Sunday. This platform has proven effective in so far as media attention. The recent protests have sparked a national interest in the issues at hand, which is how change begins.

At the end of the day we must look at the protest for what it is. By protesting, these athletes are only using the democratic tools given to them to bring about change. People suggest that this activity is “anti-American” but I challenge you to think the inverse. The principles of free speech and the right to protest give people a voice.

 

She said…

By Anna Bowers, Staff Writer

Do NFL players—and all American citizens—have the right to kneel during the national anthem? Yes.

Should they kneel during the anthem? No.

In a political conflict, it is never productive to try to silence those we disagree with. However, as the protestors have the right to kneel, I have the right to oppose the protest. On the subject of the protest, it would be a whole other argument to analyze the racial implications of police brutality. Regardless, the method with which NFL players are currently protesting is disrespectful and inefficient. Colin Kaepernick began the protest by first sitting during the anthem. At the request of a military officer, he reformed the protest to kneeling instead. When the players first sat during the anthem—a tribute to the military and the myriad freedoms we enjoy in the United States—it was disrespectful. Now that players are kneeling, it is still disrespectful. It is not the protesters’ intent to disrespect the military, but their intent does not determine whether they are being disrespectful or not.

The traditional way to show respect during the anthem is to stand, hands over hearts. The anthem is representative of America and those who fight for our sovereignty. It is not directed towards police. Because a large portion of the country believes their protest to be disrespectful, it has largely failed to spark productive discourse, instead causing controversy. The players should find a new way to protest that will not disrespect the country or those who fight for it.

 

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