Tom Gymer: NFL players have the right to protest

There has been controversy in the USA over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. The players argue that it is a form of protest against some of the problems in America today such as the police’s treatment of ethnic minorities. Others, such as President Trump, argue that it is insulting to the US, to the flag, and to the soldiers who have fought to protect America.

He’s easy to dismiss, but just because Trump says something doesn’t mean it’s wrong, so let’s consider whether kneeling for the national anthem is really offensive to military veterans. Firstly, different people within any group will always have different views, what’s offensive to one may be fine for another. People traditionally stand for the national anthem, but kneeling doesn’t seem like an inherently disrespectful act, especially in contrast to other ways these players could have protested.

It has been made clear by many veterans that even if taking a knee is disrespectful and offensive, they’d still support it as the right to protest is one of the very things they fought to protect. Even up to the highest levels of the military there are those who support the NFL players over President Trump, such as retired General Michael Hayden, and Colin Kaepernick, the player that started this string of protests, decided on kneeling as a form of protest after talking with a former Green Beret. It’s clear that Trump and others’ use of veterans and the military as a way to criticise these protests is unfair and overly aggressive.

It seems to me that insulting the flag and the anthem stand for is the exact point of a protest? That the ideals of America are not being lived up to. Considering the USA has the second highest incarceration rate (disproportionally made up of BAME people) it would seem there is plenty to protest about.


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Tom Gymer