Two Takes on Taking a Knee.

Author:Wong, Dale

In David Swanson's "Take a Knee for Freedom of Religion" (N/D 2017), he says that NFL players kneeling during the national anthem is a step against racism. But this isn't the best avenue to protest police racism or brutality (the original reason why Colin Kaepernick started doing this). During the Vietnam War, there were many protests, including a few where the American flag was burned. But they were protesting the official actions of the US government in Vietnam. Today, the US government isn't responsible for the actions of a few rogue cops or the decisions of juries in the trials of those cops.

Swanson also says that when he refuses to stand for the national anthem, he is exercising his freedom of speech, not burning or spitting on the flag. But for many people, especially veterans, he is doing the equivalent of burning or spitting on the flag (also freedom of speech rights). In the military, recruits are taught from day one that if they're outside on base and the national anthem is being played to accompany the raising or lowering of the flag (or "colors" as they call it), they are to come to attention, face the flag or music, and salute until the music ends. Why? We ask our soldiers to pledge their lives to the defense of this nation. As humanists, we know what an enormous sacrifice this can be since we know that this is the one and only life we will ever have. What kind of soldiers would they be if they didn't honor this nation? There may come a time in the future when fundamental human nature has changed, when people aren't so easily convinced that there are things worth killing for, and when nationalism is extinct and no longer needed. But until that time comes, nations still need their militaries.

Finally, when NFL players kneel during the national anthem, is this really a free speech issue? NFL players are paid millions to put on a show, and if an NFL owner wants his players to stand, then that should just be considered part of the show, or something that the players are being paid to do. As...

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