From press releases
A couple of years ago, then NFL starting quarterback and Superbowl hero, Colin Kaepernick decided either to remain seated or kneel during renditions of the Star Spangled Banner in support of Black Lives Matter, and to protest police violence against Black people.
Bigger than football
As he explained, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
“Sons of bitches” who should be fired
In 2017 President Donald Trump described players who knelt during the anthem to draw attention to racial injustice as “sons of bitches” who were insulting the flag and the nation. He demanded that owners suspend or fire players who knelt.
Those remarks prompted a very American response, as players all across the joined in the kneeling protest. Which prompted another type of response: attacks on the players by conservatives all over the airwaves.
The owners placate Trump
Now the NFL owners are themselves on bended knee – to the whims of the current US President.
“This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
Vice President Mike Pence who had walked out on an NFL game in Indianapolis after some players knelt for the anthem, tweeted a headline after the NFL announcement under the hashtag “Winning” and an American flag.
Punishing those who disrespect the flag?
Forcing football players to stand “to show respect for the flag” during the national anthem ignores the wholesale – and formally defined — disrespect for the flag that goes on every day, everywhere.
The Flag Code, which formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which we give respect to the flag, also contains specific instructions on how the flag is not to be used. They are:
- The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
- The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speaker’s desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
- The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard
- The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
- The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind.
- The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
- When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag, it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
- The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.
- When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.
A thousand ways we violate the Flag Code every day. It appears that implicating the flag in a protest calling on the US to live up to its promise to treat all citizens equally is granting it more respect and authority than any of a thousand ways we daily violate the Flag Code – that are condoned by the same self-righteous people attacking the football players.