By Luke Cocchi
What comes to mind when you think of America? Do you think of baseball, apple pie, the smell of fireworks; or do you think of brave men? Men such as Crispus Attucks, a former slave who found himself as one of the patriots who fell on the cold, March night in 1770. Perhaps you think of the men of the Irish Brigade, all brand-new Americans who had each volunteered for service in the Union Army. Eight of them fell, one after the other to keep the Stars and Stripes held over the fray while marching into battle. To me, the protestor and the flag bearer alike, are ardent patriots who deserve to be heralded. Both are truly representative of the American spirit. They both embody the fortitude to stand against a larger force to do what is right. Over the past week, the “debate” over the NFL controversy has devolved into a mudslinging. Every night I turn on the news and feel like I’m watching some purported McCarthyist nightmare. The terms “anti-American” or “racist” are thrown back and forth so many times I can’t help, but feel like Inigo Montoya from the classic 1987 movie, The Princess Bride.
As of the current third week of football season, over 200 players exercised their own first amendment right and took a knee, and thus sparking much warranted outrage as well as confusion throughout the entire country. The players maintain that their protest is against racial inequality and the Trump Administration. If that was all they did, no one would have an issue. Unless you look at the tiki-torch section of Home Depot, I think you would be hard pressed to find many Americans who would not stand against the injustice that is racial inequality. Herein lies the confusion about what the players are truly doing and where the anger of the public is directed. The national flag and anthem do not change in what they represent based on domestic policy, the Congress, or the current administration. The national flag and anthem represent the values which our nation is founded upon and who we strive to embody.
They are both symbols of our self-evident truths and those rights preserved for us, the people, in the Constitution. This is the reason why the players, who have a generally good message, have received so much outrage. The message is not wrong, but the way they are conveying it and the stage they are using are wrong. Whether players realize it or not, kneeling for the national flag is a grave insult to patriotic Americans across the entire country. People around the world view the national anthem and the national flag as symbols of all the values I mentioned earlier and more.
By kneeling for the national anthem, these football players work against themselves and the values which they are trying to bring to the forefront of American society. They also lose the support of many allies who might otherwise help them. If they truly wanted to get their own message across, they would put their own millions of dollars into specific campaigns and nonprofits who seek to actually do good, and not dishonor our country.