This past Sunday, more people tuned into NFL games to see how the players would act during the National Anthem than to watch the games. My natural response to these players who won’t stand for the Anthem is to say, “Go find a better place to live, where you can make insane amounts of money to play a game.” But rather than address their feelings toward America, let me offer a better plan for dissenters to express themselves.
We will always have dissenters. And while it’s true that these 25-year-old men have little concept, for the most part, of the freedoms they enjoy and the price that was paid to secure that freedom, the dissent will continue. So, rather than trying to convince the unconvinceable, let’s offer them a better way to express themselves.
The irony is that these players – about 200, or 12 percent of the league – are kneeling during the anthem to protest the division they see coming from President Trump. In the process, they are causing more division. So their answer to division is more division.
So here’s my plan for dissenters . . .
1. Never compromise yourself.
If you oppose the direction of the President or the country, that’s your right. No one is asking you to compromise your positions. You have a fundamental right of dissent.
2. Learn the difference between nationality and specific leaders and positions.
To stand for the National Anthem does not mean you agree with every leader or position of the country. That has never been the requirement or expectation for those standing in honor of the flag. You are kneeling to express the fact that you disagree with President Trump, war, or whatever. Join the crowd. If the only ones who stood were those who agreed with everything the country is doing, I would have quit standing the day abortion became the law of the land.
3. Stand for the National Anthem.
You say you love your country. Show it.
4. Find other ways to show your dissent.
Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem, while he did not vote. That mutes his voice. It should. If players want to make a difference, there are far better ways to do so than by disrespecting the flag. You want to make a difference? Do what J. J. Watt did. Make a difference. Anyone can take a knee for three minutes. It’s what you do when you get back up that counts. Don’t make a mockery of your dissent by protesting the direction of the country, then not voting. Stand up. Speak out. Give to a worthy cause. Visit a youth center. Go to the Boy’s Club.
Here’s the bottom line. If NFL players want to make a difference in this country and its leadership which they find so reprehensible, they will make a far greater impact by being known for what they are for, rather than by what they are against.
Anyone can take a knee. It takes real character to take a stand.