Opinions

Taking a knee for basic human freedoms

For a country that’s entire cultural identity is based on freedom, and who’s notorious for clinging to their constitution like it provides the air they breathe, many U.S. citizens certainly are quick to douse the flames of freedom of expression, largely when minority groups are the ones whom are exercising it.

Shocking, I know.

Many NFL players have followed, free agent, Colin Kaepernick’s lead and have taken a knee during the American national anthem, which plays before each football game. Some teams, including the Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans, refused to even come out of their respective dressing rooms during the “Star-Spangled Banner” at their game on Sunday, Sept. 24.

Shannay Ruglass, a SAIT student, and a Seattle Seahawks fan said, “I think it’s really good that these NFL players are actually standing their ground and using their celebrity [status] and their presence to make a point, it’s really cool.”

Athletes, such a Kaepernick, are peacefully protesting the America that minorities are familiar with, as it’s a very different place to live when your skin is anything but white.

“Do I want to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? F*ck Yeah! But at the same time, knowing that it’s in America, no, because I’m a person of colour,” said Ruglass.

President Donald Trump did his part in adding fuel to the fire when he stated, during a speech he gave in Alabama on Friday, Sept. 22, that he’d like to see NFL owners saying, “get that son of a b*tch off the field, he’s fired, fired!” If they disrespected the flag. This after he called neo-Nazis at Charlottesville, Na., “very fine people.”

However, at this point, coming from Trump, nothing he says surprises anyone.

“I think it’s really cool that the NFL is now standing with their players after what Trump said,” said Ruglass.

Unfortunately there are still many influenced by the president’s words. Recently, Parkway High School in Bossier Parish, Louisiana sent a letter home with players stating that if they choose to demonstrate during the anthem before their games, they would be kicked off the team.

Athletes from around the country are demonstrating to oppose racial injustice, especially police violence that black people and other minorities face everyday in the U.S. They are trying to keep the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement alive after it peaked last year.

“When that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, I’ll stand,” said Kaepernick during an after-game interview in 2016.

The main complaint raised by Trump and his supporters is that turning one’s back to the flag or kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful to those individuals whom are overseas fighting for America’s “freedom.” You know, like the freedom to express, the freedom to peacefully protest? All those things that the blessed constitution stands for?

Nothing says “patriotism” like forced patriotism. Or dare I say it, Nationalism, and we all know how that ends.

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