Perhaps the whole “taking a knee” thing could be understood in a Game of Thrones sort of way and it would be less distressing for many people. In the Game of Thrones taking a knee means swearing fealty. Like the different kingdoms in the Game of Thrones our society is fractured or is fracturing into various tribes with differing concerns and agendas. Agendas that tend unfortunately to be stereotypical generalizations or labels. Neither of which is the fact or the truth.
Protestors must understand that protest without pain is meaningless. If protestors run no risk then perhaps their cause is not that meaningful. If people who disagree with the protest are not made to think rather than falling directly into anger perhaps the protest is mis-directed or self-defeating.
Is it possible that the protestors are swearing fealty to the flag by exercising their rights to free speech under that flag, rather than disrespecting it?
I personally do not like this particular protest form just as I don’t like pictures of people burning or walking on the flag but I am willing to accept it as part of the greater good of free speech.
Nor do I believe people should be punished for speaking freely no matter what the subject but such speakers must also be willing to pay some price for taking a stand. Asimov tells us that there ,” ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” If your protest is worthy then you must be willing to pay the price of protest otherwise it is meaningless.
Suppression of free speech is one of the basic foundations of every revolution that has ever happened. When the actions of our society anger us and our anger is internalized it sometimes grows until it becomes very dangerous or consumes us. Protest is a viable outlet for this anger and certainly better than violence. The fact that some protests draw violent people is not the issue.
Those who would suppress free speech in the United States, whether in a football stadium or on a college campus may be unknowingly, even hopefully, sowing the seeds of their own destruction.
Students on college campuses who shout down the rights of others to free speech chanting “fascist” fairly obviously do not know they are using a tenant of fascism as their method of protest and that is sad. I almost believe “fascist” has become popular not because of its meaning but because it is an easily chanted ugly and angry sounding word.
I personally honor the flag, our military and our veterans and take a bow to the generally heroic sacrifices and history for which our flag stands. I do not believe that the current football protests demean our military or veterans although I understand that sounds good as a sound bite and makes an apparent association. An association that is an almost pure logical non sequitur. Our historical actions as a country are far from perfect but in general they have been very good and we can learn from them, both good and bad, if we choose to do so.
Perhaps a form of protest that makes us think rather than fall into anger might be a better choice. I long to see a football team with each player on a knee holding a sign that says, ” I talked to my congressman today, I discussed problems with a policeman, I volunteered at a food pantry, I voted, I donated part of my salary to my home town, or I believe in the promise of America.
Perhaps by salving the wound rather than rubbing dirt into it the healing can begin anew