The irony of kneeling during the National Anthem

Thoughtful discussion is a dying art, and yet I found myself in the middle of one with a learned colleague who supported NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem.  Surprisingly, he told me he wanted to understand why I found this act so offensive when the intent was only to bring attention to racial injustice and remind everyone that "people of color" are still denied full access to the promise of America.

If there's one task that must be accomplished at all costs, it's persuading every citizen that the flag and anthem represent the Constitution and those common goals, freedoms, and rights that unify us all as a nation.  These ideals apply to everyone and are immutable.  Regardless of the era, the ideology of the current of the government, or recent cultural trends, the words and guarantees do not change.  Therefore, they should be honored and revered by all Americans because they apply to all Americans.

The acts of people are an entirely different matter.  While the actions, greed, and immorality of some can affect others in horribly unjust ways, the words in the Constitution and Bill of Rights that define what our society should be never change.  It is because these ideals are permanent and indelible that we continue to grow personally and collectively.  We are constantly forced to compare those principles to our actions, and when they are not congruous, change for the better occurs.

From the abolition of slavery to the present, we have grown closer to the promise of equal rights and protections for all people, not farther away.  What happened to George Floyd is a terrible tragedy, but it does not compare to the horrors of slavery in the 18th century or the lynchings of the 19th century.  A black president would have been inconceivable in the 1960s, yet, 50 years later, we elected one.  The ideals defined in the Constitution are unbending and unwavering, and they will ultimately be fulfilled.

When people, whether their grievance is legitimate or not, attack the symbols that represent the foundational principles they claim they are trying to achieve, attitudes toward them change, and their motives draw suspicion.  For some, it's about not achieving equality, but rather destroying an extraordinary concept and replacing it with an authoritarian dictatorship modeled after their own ideas and beliefs.  These people hide behind righteous causes, but they are nothing more than unprincipled radicals and anarchists.

We can sympathize and understand that in their frustration, some may confuse the principles within the Constitution and Bill of Rights with the people who distort those principles to fit their own warped agenda.  However, the flag, and the ideals it represents, stands for equality for everyone.  This will never change.  So why would anyone want to show disrespect by kneeling in front of a symbol that represents divinely inspired documents advancing principles that are honorable, virtuous, and colorblind?

My friend stood silently for a moment and stroked his chin.  Almost imperceptibly, he nodded once before walking away.  In these times, what more could be hoped for?

William Busse is a fiction writer who resides in Arizona.  He enjoys exposing the hypocrisy of the left and warning his fellow citizens of the grave danger that threatens our freedom of speech.

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