Why most Americans agree on the issue of kneeling


UTPB Freshman Evan Joel Mitchell is Political Columnist and Features Writer for the Mesa Journal News.

Evan Mitchell , Political Columnist and Writer

By now, everyone has heard of the National Football League (NFL) protests.  These protests started a flurry of arguments and gained the media focus.  This protest is when professional athletes kneel for the national anthem in protest of racial inequality.  Fans of the sport lashed out at the athletes by refusing to watch the NFL altogether.  The issue became a polarized one, with political parties choosing their stances, but you’d be surprised to learn that most Americans agree on this issue.  But, where did this all start?  And why did a small issue as kneeling become a national headline?

On August 14, 2016, Colin Kaepernick began a present-day political storm by sitting down during the national anthem in protest of police brutality.  Within two weeks Kaepernick’s protest began to be noticed by the media, and when asked to expand on his protest he said, “I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s a significant change and I feel that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”  Kaepernick’s sit turned into a much more noticeable kneel.  This caught the attention of the media.  Later Colin Kaepernick lost his position as quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.  Not because of the protest, but because of the fact that he was not playing well.  Kaepernick and his protest slowly faded out of the focus of the media, but Colin had started something that would only escalate in the future.

It wasn’t until mid-August that kneeling for the anthem would start once again.  It arguably began again when Marshawn Lynch knelt, after coming out of retirement.  This reignited the trend of kneeling for the anthem, but it still wasn’t a large issue because not many players or teams were protesting.  This time was about to be different from the last though because this time the nation had a new president in the oval office.  President Donald J. Trump caught wind of these protests.  On September 22, 2017, during a rally in Alabama, president Trump weighed in on the topic saying, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say ‘Get that son of a B***h off the field right now.  Out!  He’s fired.”  Almost within an instant, the nation had responded, and a majority of people responded positively to trumps remarks.  NFL players and teams’ however, responded with larger and more protest of the anthem.  Whole teams would be found kneeling, or not on the field at all.  This topic had become a national issue overnight.

The political parties picked their sides on the issue.  Republicans picked the side that says players shouldn’t kneel for the national anthem or the flag because it disrespects the men and women who fought and died for it and that punishments should be implemented for kneeling.  While Democrats chose the side saying that the players were exercising their first amendment right, and that maybe the flag shouldn’t be stood for because of racial inequality in the nation.

BOTH sides of the political aisles played this issue wrong.  They each start with an agreeable point and end with something ridiculous.  Yes, people should stand to pay their respect for fallen troops, but no, there shouldn’t be harsh punishments for kneeling.  Yes, they were exercising their right to protest, but no, the flag and anthem shouldn’t be knelt for because of racism.  In the end though, Republican ended up being on the winning side of this cultural battle.

A Poll taken by Reuters/Ipsos showed that 58% of Americans believe that NFL players should be required to stand for the national anthem, and 33% disagree.  Trump initiated a winning battle.  He found an issue that most Americans agree upon and polarized it, and his side won. Teams and players are all returning to standing during the anthem.  The one thing that should be taken less kindly is president Trump’s remarks on saying that the players should be fired.  As a president, you shouldn’t use your position in government to advocate the firing of someone for political disagreements.  I may be a Republican, but I can say that this was a clear overreach by president Trump, and he should refrain from doing anything of the like in the future.  The same poll shows that Americans don’t believe that players should be fired (57% to 29%).

So, after this week-long discussion, it boils down to most Americans believing two of the same things.  One, you shouldn’t kneel for the flag or anthem, and two, you shouldn’t be fired if you do.