Liberty and justice for some

The practice of protesting during the national anthem has become an increasingly controversial topic as of late. Some argue that a refusal to stand during the national anthem and Pledge of Allegiance is a peaceful protest to the injustices minorities and people of color continue to face today in America. However, others view it as a sign of disrespect towards the American flag and the troops that have died fighting for our freedom.

Recently, there have been heated debates about what constitutes disrespecting our flag and anthem. Former 49ers player Colin Kaepernick started taking a knee last year during the national anthem, and many soon followed his lead. When asked why he did so at the time, he said, This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

This trend to kneel continues, despite Kaepernick mysteriously losing his position on the 49ers and the backlash his protest has received from so many even President Trump with a slew of tweets.

In fact, Fox News reported more than 200 NFL players made some form of gesture at games on [this past] Sunday many kneeling or sitting on the bench in reaction to comments and tweets by Trump, who called on team owners to fire players who followed former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s lead by kneeling during the national anthem. Some owners locked arms with players.

It was brave of these players and team owners to show their solidarity with Kaepernicks protest and, more importantly, his right to protest.

This debate begs the question: Are there rules somewhere that outline what IS disrespectful towards our flag and our country and what IS NOT? Believe it or not, a US Flag Code exists and can be accessed online at usflag.org, which can be used to fact-check the following statements.

Twitter user @koopa_kinte, who identifies as a third-generation veteran, outlined some basic tenets of the Flag Code in a wonderful tweet thread that paints it black and white to clear up any confusion.

His first tweet reads: Since disrespecting the flag is still the narrative being used [against peaceful protestors], this courtesy of the US Flag Code Chapter 10: Respect for flag A Thread.

He goes on to point out that the flag should never be carried flat or horizontally ironically, a common practice at American football games.

In addition, The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. Ill give you a nickel if youve never owned an article of clothing with the American flag printed on it, which goes to show that many of us disrespect the flag without even knowing it.

The Twitter user lists several forms of disrespect to the flag but points out that nowhere in this Code does it say that you must stand during the national anthem, just that you should. When reading the Flag Code, the presence of the word should is quite obvious.

People should try to understand both points of view when it comes to the national anthem and the flag. Kaepernick refused to stand during the national anthem not to disrespect our country or those that have fought for it, but rather to make a statement about the things America, in general, ignores and handles unjustly.

Kaepernick told NFL media I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.

On the other hand, if anyone in your family is a war veteran or has died in combat, you may feel that a refusal to stand during the anthem is disrespectful towards our military and our country as a whole. And some just think that politics shouldnt be brought into the sports arena at all.

In my opinion, I do not think that kneeling or sitting during the anthem is disrespectful, especially if there is an important motive behind the action. You shouldnt be required to stand, but you should WANT to stand if your nation is really something to be proud of. And I can see why many people do not feel this is true.

Take a knee or a seat during the national anthem and/or the Pledge of Allegiance if you so choose. As Americans, we have the right to protest and the right to sit, stand, kneel or do whatever we want during the anthem and the Pledge. No one not even the president can take away these constitutional rights from the people, especially if your intent is a peaceful protest.