Unity has been rare in America recently. Politics has divided the nation in half, and both sides are at each other’s throats.
However, we have seen a rare sign of unity in the past two weeks, as every team in the NFL came together to protest President Trump’s comments on Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the national anthem.
There is a plethora of reasons that Trump’s comments were so horrific. Trump argued that protesting during the national anthem goes against fundamental American values, and in doing so demonstrated how little he understands American values. Those who protest represent the spirit that makes this country so unique.
Trump showed that he has no idea what free speech means. Brave people, such as Kaepernick, exemplify the necessity of the First Amendment. It exists to protect people with dissenting opinions from the government. The idea that the head of government would call to fire a private citizen based upon their political beliefs contradicts that purpose.
Likewise, the idea that every citizen should unquestioningly honor the national anthem is antithetical to everything that it represents. At its heart, the national anthem is a song about freedom. It doesn’t make sense that someone should have no freedom in deciding whether or not to stand for that very song.
In addition, these protesting players are not doing so out of hate for this country but out of love – not unconditional but tough love. They use their public visibility to shed light on issues because they yearn for a better, more egalitarian America that would fulfill everything for which the anthem and the flag supposedly stand.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Trump’s argument was his attack on the athletes’ wealth, stating that they have no reason to complain. That is exactly what makes their protest so special. Yes, these players have been extremely successful, but they still feel the need to bring attention to the issues plaguing our nation.
So many people in this country struggle and face discrimination on a daily basis. These privileged athletes feel it is their responsibility to help less fortunate citizens. That is what America is about – citizens looking beyond themselves and seeing what can be done to help everyone in society escape oppression. These protesting players embody true patriotism.
Ryan Steinberg is a sophomore majoring in political science. Read Joseph Krupar’s opposing view here.
Featured photo courtesy pixabay user Classically Printed.