Patriotism Has Taken a Knee


Jeanette Lee

Senior Masato Hirakata discusses his stance on the movement with Anton Weintraub ‘18 during their free period.

Recently, a trend has emerged in American sports. Athletes, primarily football players, have begun refusing to stand for the national anthem. President Donald Trump has interpreted these “protests” as being rude and unpatriotic, and harshly criticized them as being un-American. However, his firm rebuke has provoked outrage and indignation in many left-wing liberals, who argue that Trump’s response is grounded in racism and bigotry, willfully distorting his sensible call for athletes who have gained so much from this country to respect its flag in turn.

Leftists have claimed this is excusable, as Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback for the 49ers who was the first to take a knee, did so in order to express his disgust for recent police brutality and racial discrimination. They maintain that the very nature of this non-violent protest prevents it from being inappropriate or rude, as these athletes are only exercising their right to free speech. “Kaepernick wasn’t going around beating people up, he was expressing his right to freedom of speech,” said Donna Kim ‘18.

However, the public recognizes that, as Masato Hirakata ’18 said, it only brings attention because “generally, disrespecting the flag and the national anthem draws attention.” Although this is an admirable cause, it doesn’t give anyone the right to disrespect a symbol as venerable and revered as the American flag and all it stands for – a flag Americans have died for. Choosing not to stand during the Star Spangled Banner is a gross display of disrespect for a nation made possible only through immense sacrifice.

Trump is rightfully enraged, arguing that veterans are dishonored by these protesters’ dismissal of all the flag represents and the sacrifices made in its name. These athletes, none of whom who have served, are taking their liberties and freedoms for granted. The Left will continue to argue that athletes taking a knee is perhaps the most respectful way they can express their dissatisfaction peacefully, but there’s no escaping the fact that refusing to stand for the anthem is disrespectful to not only our flag but also to our nation.