The Right to Kneel

By Austin Stadie

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Vice President Mike Pence walked out of a Colts game on October 8 in protest of players kneeling during the national anthem. By doing so, he reduced an anthem, meant to unify the American people, to a political stunt.

“President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag, or our national anthem,” Pence said.

This was said after the cheering as the NFL violated the United States Flag code by displaying the flag horizontally across the field. This seemingly proves the fact that he, as well as President Trump, are not angered over the disrespect of the flag, but instead angered that black Americans have the courage to speak out against injustice.

This kneeling debacle began in August of 2016 when Colin Kaepernick, then quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, sat on the bench during the national anthem. This was met with little coverage the first time. However, after doing it a second time, the story began to gain traction.

“I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country,” Kaepernick said. “There is police brutality. People of color have been targeted by the police.”

Later that month, former Seattle Seahawks player Nate Boyer, who was once a Green Beret in the United States Military, published an open letter in the Army Times addressed to Kaepernick.

“I thought of how far I’d come and the men I’d fought alongside who didn’t make it back,” Boyer said. “If I had noticed my teammate sitting on the bench, it would have really hurt me.”

However, he later went on to explain that it took a lot of courage to do what Kaepernick did and how he would be lying if he said he knew what it was like to walk around in Kaepernick’s shoes. This prompted the two to meet up and discuss an alternative.

“We sorta came to a middle ground where he would take a knee alongside his teammate,” Boyer said. “Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect.”

This being said, we still have a president who dodged the draft and a vice president who has not served a day in his life, with the former calling for the firing of players who “disrespect the flag” even after a former Green Beret said that it is Kaepernick’s, inalienable right to protest the flag and gave him the idea of kneeling in the first place.

Despite what is popular, I am not a fan of picking on the Trump administration for every little thing they do wrong. Although, when there is a story like this, there is a blatant disregard for the truth and understanding of what black Americans go through. I believe that it is absolutely necessary to call his administration out on it. This is yet another case where they degrade the prestige of the presidency and the United States.