This Sunday forum is in response to “President’s criticisms spark more protests” (Sept. 25).
Taking a knee is not an act of disrespect. It is an affirmation of what makes our country truly great. We have the right, guaranteed by our Constitution, to freely express our beliefs. To take a knee.
This act does not disrespect our flag or our men and women in uniform. They wear the uniform to preserve those Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms represented by our flag. Disrespect for America is criticizing those who exercise these freedoms. We can best respect our flag by listening and trying to understand why these Americans are taking a knee.
With regard to the raised fists and bended knees at NFL games, I find myself in stunned agreement with President Trump, a man who has never before made a statement or decision that I found wise.
Anyone who publicly dishonors our nation’s flag, and what it stands for, including the sacrifices made by generations of American soldiers, whether that individual wears a football uniform, overalls or a pinafore, is not my friend or America’s friend. Banning such millionaire militants from professional sports, it seems to me, would be merely a good place to start in showing them just how little we appreciate their disrespectful, totally inappropriate gesture. If these athletes dislike a particular government policy, seems to me they should redress their grievances on their personal time, like those of us who are less famous and privileged are obliged to do.
Think of taxpayers
As an elected official who from time to time must debate the issue of public financing of professional sports venues, I feel it may be instructive to consider the following statement as it relates to the current state of affairs regarding public demonstration in professional sports. I fully support private concerns allowing employees to participate in any protest, social display or making of political statements. As a private entity they have the right to do as they wish inside the confines of the law. Any downside business consequences will be apportioned to the owners.
That said, inasmuch as nearly all if not every NFL franchise operates in facilities subsidized by taxpayers, any actions taken by players and/or owners not applicable to the core mission of pro sports, namely entertainment and positive economic production, that offends or insults taxpayers should not be allowed. There can be no reasonable argument in favor of taxpayers funds collected under threat of government repercussion being used to support any enterprise that allows or promotes actions taxpayers find offensive. In short, if they want the freedom to rebuke their government and its agents (an action I take regularly) then they need to maintain their independence from that government. If they take the money they should lose the independence to insult those who wrote the check.
Vice Chair, Mecklenburg County Commission
Follow flag code
I must take exception to President Trump’s claim that athletes kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem is disrespectful to the American Flag. In fact, these demonstrations are quite respectful. It would be disrespectful for the players to ignore the anthem altogether and continue their warm-up routines.
On the other hand, actions by Trump as president and while campaigning for the office do strike me as disrespectful. It is de rigueur for politicians to wear American flag lapel pins, yet this is not an acceptable use of the flag, according to the U.S. Flag Code, the de facto authority on appropriate uses and displays of the flag. According to the flag code, flag replicas (patches or buttons) may be worn “by military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations” (article 176(j)). In researching this issue, I came upon an even more egregious instance where then-candidate Trump showed extreme disrespect for the flag. On the Republican National Committee’s website, Trump is conducting a contest to “Win my American Flag Pin” from a Tennessee rally, complete with certificate of authenticity. This demonstrates a complete disregard for the sanctity of the flag.
As a veteran and a U.S. citizen, I find it disheartening to see professional athletes and team owners taking a knee during the National Anthem. The anthem and the flag are treasured, if not sacred, symbols of many freedoms and positive values – not just one – that should not be treated disrespectfully. Rather, they should evoke a sense of gratitude and pride and be upheld as goals toward which all Americans should continue to strive.
While I share the concern for those not yet fully experiencing the American Dream, my hope is that we Americans would choose a more respectful and less divisive means of protest. Perhaps players could meet with key local, state and national leaders; hold press conferences; issue press releases; or find some other less objectionable way to gain support for their concerns without disrespecting the flag and creating another controversy. American democracy is not perfect but our nation deserves that we all work in positive ways to make it work better for all our citizens.
Standing ‘not required’
Regarding the recent flap between the president and some professional athletes for the way they’ve “taken a knee” in lieu of the traditional and customary way we’ve been taught since childhood to show respect for our flag and anthem or to honor our veterans, by standing erect with hand over heart (or salute, if in military). There is no law requiring any specific action to show such respect.
The First Amendment to the Constitution gives every American the freedom to choose how we express that respect, or to express not at all. Americans cannot be required by law or Trump’s “order” to “bow to the ruler’s hat on a pole.” The athletes’ escalation and show of solidarity on the matter is largely to show defiance of Trump’s mean, bullying and hateful words. It’s the William Tell story all over again.