These Protests Have Never Been About a Flag, an Anthem, or the Military

“They’re disrespecting the flag!”
“They’re disrespecting the Anthem!”
“They’re disrespecting the Military!”

These have been the constant refrains from many people over the past week (most of them white) in response to NFL players locking arms or taking a knee or placing a fist in the air during the National Anthem: that such things represent an attack on this country, on its servicemen and women—on America itself.

Never mind that those actually protesting have denied such things over and over and over again, both before and after every game. Such details are of little importance, especially when those details would effectively defuse any histrionics from the righteously indignant critics, and force them to actually confront the very real ugliness at hand.

This purposeful missing of the point isn’t surprising in Donald Trump’s America, since gaslighting and deflecting and feigning ignorance are his modus operandi—tactics all of which have been on display in reckless, incendiary press statements; nationalist-baiting Tweets; and “I never said anything about race” post game stupidity.

In saying that these athletes are protesting the flag or the Military or the Anthem—you are choosing to listen to your bias and not their actual words. You’re simply ignoring their repeated statements, in order to perpetuate the narrative you need to oppose them without feeling any responsibility to wrestle with the difficult issues they raise.

By creating a black and white “Traitorous NFL Player vs. America” storyline, you’re able to completely ignore the stated and repeated impetus behind Kaepernick’s initial protest (and every one that’s followed): the plea for people of color to be treated with equity by law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and our government. When the President labels these men “sons of bitches” who should be terminated—he’s only proving why their protests are valid and necessary to begin with.

The idea that there was a “better way” to do these demonstrations is a diversion and unhelpful, as there are a million ways to be an activist. Colin Kaepernick originally leveraged his platform, influence, and visibility to peacefully declare that black lives were valuable and should be part of whatever “making America great” looks like. It’s really that simple. The hysterical response to it all by largely white Americans, only underscores precisely why Kaepernick protested in the first place, the deeply embedded racism this country is afflicted with, and why many white people will do almost anything to avoid dealing with it. The “better way” they were looking for from these players, is one out of the spotlight, away from their entertainment—and somewhere they didn’t have to look at it or deal with it.

A piece of cloth is not sacred, and a song (especially one with a suspect genesis) is not sacred. They are symbols of a freedom that those serving our country have died to give all of us and to protect for all of us. That freedom is supposed to be available to every human being who calls this country home—because they, not the flag or the anthem, are sacred. They alone are worthy of reverence and honor and respect. And the simple, brutal truth—is that since America’s inception, people of color have not received anything close to such equity. They’ve been the ones who have been “disrespected” (and this is being extremely kind).

That’s why Colin Kaepernick took a knee.
It’s why players locked arms.
It’s why they raised their fists in the air.
They have said as much without hesitation or ambiguity.
They’ve done these things, not because they hate this country—but because they want everyone here to have the liberty the flag points to and the song suggests. 

For anyone to try put words in their mouths or assign to them motives that they’ve clearly denied, or to try and shame and silence them because this all makes them uncomfortable is the very definition of privilege. It’s exactly the kind of marginalizing and disregard that made these protests necessary in the first place. To come to the defense of a piece of cloth or a song, and not to the people beneath these protests is willful sin.

White friends, you don’t get to decide what patriotism looks like for people of color. That’s why it’s called freedom. The fact that many of you don’t seem to understand this; that you feel entitled to police them and to force them into a expression that you sanction, shows why these protests are necessary.

This is not about an attack on a flag or an anthem or on those who’ve served this country.

You can try and make it about those things—but that really just makes it about you , what you’re willing to talk about and what you don’t want to be inconvenienced with.

I think that’s the point these players are making: America is about more than you—or at least it’s supposed to be.

Order John’s book, ‘A Bigger Table’ here.


168 thoughts on “These Protests Have Never Been About a Flag, an Anthem, or the Military

    • I am black and I didn’t agree with the players kneeling. I didn’t like it when colin wore the pig socks and a Che shirt. I served for 4 years in the Air Force. I gave my life to Jesus while serving in the Air Force. I have been stopped by police for not stopping at a red light and for making an illegal U turn. I always did what the officer asked me to do. My mom and dad instilled in me to respect all people and those in authority. At 61 my parents voices still echo in my heart.

  1. I have heard that people want these players to protest in a different venue. Where? Locally away from National news coverage?
    I saw a local Oakland program where Colin Kaepernick had stayed awake all night with other volunteers packing boxes of school supplies for poor children. He has also donated 1 million dollars to charity all done out of the public eye. So have many other athletes.
    Yet black folks continue to die from police action.
    For them to publicly say “this is wrong” is not disrespectful but honors the true nature of America.

  2. John,
    You are making a logical argument. But what if those you are addressing either don’t know what logic is or refuse to acknowledge it?
    I wish you luck using logic.

  3. Amen, John! Yet again, you’ve hit the nail squarely on the head. I can’t add to or improve on much of what you’ve said here – except for two things. First of all, I don’t hear any of the naysayers calling out the white guys by name for joining in the protest (and I strongly suspect that if a protest had been started by only white players, the naysayers wouldn’t have made a peep about it). Secondly, Donald Trump doesn’t “feign” ignorance. He is ignorance itself.

    • What a load of shit… liberal crap.. you paint ALL ‘white people’ as the boogeyman…
      Question: Where where all these supposed ‘patriots’ protesting when Obama was POTUS? It’s in direct hatred for Trump… I’m NOT a Trump guy… but I find it disingenuous they show up and protest … play football and leave the rhetoric in the locker room… these guys should be thanking their lucky stars they can make this kind of money in America… if not, be an athlete anywhere else.., stop this empty rhetoric

      • That guy has given a million dollars to charity in one year. That is what he uses his money for. BTW, money does not buy your life. Blacks are routinely killed, arrested, and mistreated by police. That flag is supposed to represent their freedom too, and sadly, it is NOT the same for them. They are not treated the same as White Americans. Blacks in America have a different experience than whites in America.

        • I’m white and I’ve been mistreated and abused by the police. It’s about them not this country. They need to weed out the John Wayne mentality from our law enforcement.

        • I’m a Mexican American, first generation. It all begins at home and the dissolve of the family. If parents were involved and taught there kids that respect, hard work and a desire to know good from bad. I have to disagree on kneeling during the anthem, it is not just a piece of cloth, it is a symbol of past, present and future sacrifices by every servicemen, servicewoman and all first responders. I am not mentioning any race because everyone of the races is included in that sacrifice. These players of all races including all sports have failed in being role models. With all the God given talent, ability to go out to their community and contribute economy and showing an interest in these children would make a difference. Sadly very few to none for any of these. In short, it’s the fault of the parents. Invest in your children, teach them wrong from right, show them by example that they can be someone. Unfortunately it may be to late with adults being children and no ability to raise adults.

          • Maybe the sollution is having accountable police. They’re the issue, not disrespectful people. Why would you respect someone who could abuse their poisition of authority?

          • John, I hate Obama for working towards better police accountability. I pray to Trump every night. When the justice department nixed stuff that Obama got put in place to help with community and police relations I was overjoyed. When savior Trump made it so police could properly be militarized i cried from sheer happiness. I’m conservative who hates big government unless it’s used to oppress marginalized people.

  4. The wars we have fought since 1945 had nothing to do with freedom, and if I was black I would not be proud of being a second class citizen of the USA. As always, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Not standing for the flag or anthem is my right, too. I know too much history to be a patriot. The fact that I am a veteran doesn’t mean I have to be willfully blind to our racist past and present.

    • Dear Robert Deming:

      Thank-you for this. Your clear, ‘I am not a patriot’ is precisely the clear, principled word which alone sets the mind to resist the rise of a US fascistic movement.


  5. Hi John, I just got a message, while reading your post, that a Trojan was trying to invade my computer. I believe that you are being hacked. I wouldn’t be surprised because you are stating controversial positions, ones I agree with, and many people are angry. Please take care and get the best anti-hackers you can find to help you! thanks!

    • This has happened to me also, more than once. It happens when I click on an article from Facebook, where I follow this page. I have stopped clicking on this from Facebook and just go to the website itself. Hope he sees our comments.

  6. We are on the same wavelength my friend! I could say AMEN after every paragraph! And that includes all of your posts and not just this one! I am forever thankful for your talents in expressing these truths so eloquently! It is a gift! I thank God for you,sir! Peace!!!!!!!

  7. These privileged multi-millionaire protesters might think of some tactics other than grandstanding when fed-up fans who just want entertainment and not preaching fall away and their pay checks suffer.

    • Every time someone says something along these lines, Joe Catholic, I think to myself “yeah, sure…because people really sit up and pay close attention when the poor, underprivileged,disenfranchised and voiceless try to speak out for themselves, right”? Every time someone implies that these players shouldn’t be speaking up for others, citing how much they’re paid, it sounds like they’re saying, “we pay these black guys so much money to toss a ball around and entertain us – why can’t they just shut up and do their jobs”?!

      • Tracy L wrote, “Every time someone implies that these players shouldn’t be speaking up for others, citing how much they’re paid, it sounds like they’re saying, “we pay these black guys so much money to toss a ball around and entertain us – why can’t they just shut up and do their jobs”?!”

        In other words, Tracy, “please shut up and don’t be uppity slaves.” In other words, “please shut up and cease to draw my attention to what I want to ignore.”

      • I don’t like it when white guys use an entertainment venue to preach their politics to a captive audience either.

        How are you going to feel if an NFLer takes the knee for the unborn? You’ll be squirming and will soon be singing a different tune about preachy entertainers.

  8. Thank you , John. Appreciate your insight. However, I can not agree with one point you made when you said,

    “To come to the defense of a piece of cloth or a song, and not to the people beneath these protests is willful sin.”

    Murder is willful sin. Peaceful protest is righteous. Critcism of peaceful protest is just plain stupidity. Americans need to wake up to their constitutional rights and stop harassing these athletes for their peaceful, justifiable protest.

  9. I’ve been waiting for a good explanation of this latest kerfuffle perpetuated by 45 so I could post how I feel on Facebook. This is a good one. Thanks again for saying so well what I have had difficulty stating.

  10. Yes that is right , it is symbolic and a statement of belief, bias, view or ones own objective to get a point across.
    But like so many things in life , it has a cost
    that cost might be thier future.
    In the same way , YOU have a choice and Must decide
    hopefully before you die.
    Whom do you Serve
    To who is your loyalty
    Why do you serve the things of this world
    that which falls away , dies out, decays, leaves like the dust of the wind.
    Where are YOU going to spend Eternity
    On spiritual Things or Physical lost cause’s the lead to death.
    Jesus Christ die for YOUR sin and all The sin of the World, Gave it All , It is up to you to choose this day who you will serve
    Jesus Christ or the love of this world
    These people of the nfl are nothing more than mere man with the audience of the world
    They make statements , YOU listen
    They make mistakes YOU crucify them
    They make wrong choices , it has a price to pay
    like everything in life there is a price for your actions and those around you.
    some times innocent people pay for YOUR sin.
    The Righteous for the unrighteous
    That is the spitural definition of True Love
    NO man lay down his life for a friend Except he has a reason. Why?
    What Purpose
    Why , What Reason?
    YOU and Only you know.
    God is at the Door , Knocking , YOU have to open up the door to your heart
    There is no handle on the outside , YOU have to decide to Follow Jesus Christ,
    Repent , change , turn from the sin of others
    Start a new LIFE.

    • Christopher. Do they have to do this by hearing preaching at a Bible-believing church and responding to their altar call—or can they go through an 8-week confirmation class at their local United Methodist Church?

  11. God bless you, Preacher, for your righteous courage in speaking truth to power every day. You espouse the words of the Bible every time you right. Keep on speaking the truth. I’ll keep reading and sharing you.

    • Yeah. He sure inserted his short bonger into this one. While Latinos and other Americans by the millions are tasting their last drop of water and their moms are dying from heat stroke in hospitals with no air-conditioning in Puerto Rico, Trump is worrying that some black folks might not get shot because of football player knees. Given Trump’s priorities, it looks perfectly opportunistic and consistent to me. Kill two birds with one stone. Have you ever????

  12. I’m all for taking both knees… no, prostrate, with one cumulative broken heart and all look in One direction.

    This is all just so messed up. And with a, a-hum, leader who wants to divide and destroy. Can it get any worse? -Don’t answer that.

    I can’t take this for another three years. Can we please have a do-over? Where’s the Tylenol-

  13. A while back I wrote a post on my blog that if we are white in the USA, we are racists, not from choice but because racism is so systemic in the USA that we white people have no idea how deeply entrenched we are in it.

    The more deeply entrenched we are, the less likely we will be to hear what POC are telling us. The less willing to hear is what I should have said. We need to unstop our ears, we need to open our hearts and minds to the voices of our sisters and brothers of color.

    What deeply troubles me personally is how many white USians claim to be Christians and yet refuse to allow the Holy Spirit to illumine our minds and soften our hearts to make room for repentance and doing better. After all, sin is already forgiven. We merely have to accept that all of our sins are forgiven and live as forgiven people, loving all of our neighbors as ourselves as God first loved us, no exceptions, no footnotes, no appendices.

    Why don’t we? Because we are fearful. We are afraid of that which is different from ourselves and we cover up our fear with all sorts of disguises such as “They’re disrespecting the flag!”
    “They’re disrespecting the Anthem!”
    “They’re disrespecting the Military!”
    “If they only cooperated with the police!”

    The longer we tell ourselves things like this (and we tell ourselves a great many other such lies) we continue to perpetuate our racism and we continue to sin against POC.

  14. Standing up for individual beliefs is good but not in a team uniform,
    There is no “I” in team. I doubt anybody bought a ticket to sit in a stadium and watch Kaepernick call attention to himself rather than participating as part of a team.

    • Joanne Phillips wrote, “I doubt anybody bought a ticket to sit in a stadium and watch Kaepernick call attention to himself rather than participating as part of a team.”

      Of course, he then did participate as part of the team.

      If you think that Kaepernick’s objective was to call attention to himself then you are not paying attention to what white people do to POC in this country.

      You are part of the continuing violence against them simply by refusing to be part of the solution and only furthering the kind of thinking that is part of the problem.

    • You want to blame him for what’s going on but it is not about him only it’s about all people of color . You didn’t have to make a big issue of something that every American has the right too do . You didn’t have to follow you didn’t have to comment you choose too cause you knew he was right. It’s time to stop acting like you can’t see what’s really going on . Sop making this about the flag when it’s not .

  15. Lawful protest is as American as Apple Pie. I support NFL Players & team owners right to Free Speech. But they don’t have a lawful right to infringe on the rights of the paying (sitting ducks) customer that are on Private Property.

    The Constitutional concept of Private Property is fading fast. Are you sure you want to allow me to set up my ‘soap box’ in your back yard?

    When I purchase tickets to a performance I have a lawful right to expect to get what I paid for. [Nothing more, nothing less. ] And if you decide to add something that I didn’t agree to pay for, that’s not cool. This has nothing to do with the Nat’l Anthem or whether I agree or disagree with the protestors message.

    • Wait, so, according to your premise, the playing of the national anthem is part of an *entertainment event* that you bought and paid to watch, and you expect forced patriotism from the players as part of this pageantry. You’re admitting that the playing of the national anthem is meaningless to you except as a part of an *entertainment event* and you damn don’t want anything to infringe on your easy enjoyment of your entertainment. The NFL opened this can of worms by having players on the field when the anthem was played (a relatively new practice) — take it up with them and not with the players, who seem to value its symbolism and their rights as citizens more than you do, mate.

    • But you do get what you paid for – THE GAME. Just like you didn’t buy your ticket to watch someone kneel during the anthem, you also didn’t buy you ticket to watch someone stand during it either. You paid for the game. Everything else is just background noise.

    • Listen to yourself stop and think what you just said did anyone of those players not play did anyone stop the games . All this happen before any games were played. It didn’t stop you from watching what you paid for. It didn’t cost you one dime for them to kneel . You still got your game now what?

    • He sat silently. Then, at the counsel and suggestion of a veteran, he knelt in silence. He’s present on the sidelines and, come game time, on the field. Since, according to your comment, this has nothing to do with the NA or whether or not you agree with his message, how are you not getting the entertainment you paid for?

    • Those are some good points, but I have to wonder…

      Is the Anthem part of what you paid to see? If so, can you get a partial refund if you don’t like how it was done? Why do they not post any statistics for it in the box score? If this is the kind of thing that people are paying to see, why aren’t there entrepreneurs out there trying to set up something like a “National Anthem League” where people can pay to see various groups compete to see who does it best?

      Did the attendees at a game really pay to participate in the Anthem, or were they there to watch football? And if they are there for the Anthem, why is the League not doing anything about the people in the stands who refuse to remove their hats and sing along; or who buy and sell at the concession stands, talk on cell phones, or do other things while the Anthem is playing? There are likely a lot more of these people than there are players on the field, so when does the League take a stand?

      We have every right to get what we paid for, but what exactly did we pay for and where is that spelled out? And if it’s not spelled out, in what way does this unwritten expectation negate other people’s basic human rights? If we say we can take away someone’s right to show their displeasure over something, does that mean that we can also disallow fans who “boo” or otherwise show displeasure with the quality of a team’s performance?

    • Yeah, it’s so rough that you are inconvenienced maybe two minutes out of the couple of hours that you paid for in order to be reminded about the black and brown bodies lying in the streets. The sooner you help the rest of us make the changes that need to be made. The sooner we see positive RESULTS: That law enforcement is no longer targeting, harassing, abusing, and shooting people primarily because of the color of their skin. The sooner those positive changes are made, the sooner we won’t need to be taking a knee, or marching in the streets, or blocking traffic, or worse. I do NOT personally participate in or advocate for violence as a means of protest, but I am telling you that if people do not heed the PEACEFUL, RESPECTFUL PROTESTS, it will get a lot worse for ALL of us.

      • Tricia-Rose Hare wrote, “Yeah, it’s so rough that you are inconvenienced maybe two minutes out of the couple of hours that you paid for in order to be reminded about the black and brown bodies lying in the streets.”

        According to my email, Tricia-Rose, you are responding to a comment made by leslie m and that’s the underlying assumption to my response to you.

        The irony I see is that you addressed your words to leslie m, a woman who in the past, perhaps before you started reading John’s blog, I wouldn’t know, is that leslie m tells us she is a black woman.

        I have found the negative reaction of white people to taking a knew quite repellant. I find it even more repellant when a black person objects to attention being drawn to the systemic racism within the USA.

        People of the USA need to accept that the GOP and their entire agenda of bigotry, misogyny, prejudice, and racism are NOT in the best interests of the USA and the majority of our citizens.

        The only people the GOP recognize as worthy of their attention are privileged, rich, straight white males.

        There are some ugly phrases for black people who turn their backs on the best interests of POC. I daresay I don’t have to repeat them.

    • Apparently the owners of the teams disagree with you. Are you suggesting they don’t have a “lawful right” to allow the protests by their employees in the team’s stadium? Once they got on board it negated all of your arguments. This whole thing is so ridiculous. Before last weekend a handful of players were silently taking a knee and no one was paying any attention. No fans were boycotting the NFL for permitting it. But then the dog whistling from Trump had its desired effect. The message was refashioned and another divisive culture war began. But it’s been a week now. Time to attack the mayor of San Juan as being a tool of the Democrats while we stack the courts…SMH

    • How was “what you paid for” in any way impinged by the protest? The players who kneel use up no one’s time with their protests, they don’t even make an announcement; they just kneel in silent protest. What you object to is being forced to consider truth that you find uncomfortable and would rather not think about.
      No EFFECTIVE protest for someone’s rights has NOT inconvenienced and/or made uncomfortable the members of the dominant (and oppressing) class.

    • You support the players right to free speech, yet it’s unlawful and that right infringes on your rights. It absolutely IS lawful, that’s what a constitutional right is. And they aren’t infringing on your rights; you are attempting to deny them THEIR rights.

      Private property? Do YOU own it? They aren’t setting up a soap box in your yard. Is this a joke?

      Purchasing a ticket doesn’t give you “lawful right” to expect what you paid for if what you “expect” is for players to subscribe to your definition of patriotism. What law is THAT? The law of narcissism? Did you “expect” to call the plays? Can you sue the team if they lose because you “expected” them to win?

      And this has EVERYTHING to do with you not agreeing with their message. Everything isn’t about you.

  16. This is the equivalent of me using my news show to post a sign that says, “Ni***rs are Great!”
    You protest that I cannot use that word it is offensive!
    I say, “wait a minute, I am saying ni***rs are Great, you don’t think they are great?”
    But what you are doing is offensive, you say…
    I say, “this must be a white black thing, you are white so you don’t believe ni***rs are great! How can you racially divide this country like this … what is wrong with you!”

    You cannot use the wrong words and wrong forum to make a right point … THAT is why they/we are offended by this.

    • This is disgusting and makes absolutely ZERO sense. Nowhere is it a defined rule that one *must* stand for the anthem. The N-word is most definitely a defined racial slur. So on its face your argument is bulls#$t.

    • They have a right to protest. Anywhere, and in any way they choose. The fact that you just had to drop the N-bomb several times says so much about you. And none of it is good.

  17. Thank you pastor John.If only others could realize this…..I’ve tried to share with others,our 2 boys wear the uniform that gives the Right to Everyone to kneel or stand,sing or not sing ,bring peaceful protest in their way,because……we are FREE!

  18. I have no patience with the willful white racists who are so offended by these football player protests. It is just the same old-white-people fear that a black man might get treated lovingly and with real equality. I live in a part of Tennessee where African-Americans make up a really small portion of the total population because the mountainous lands in these parts were unsuitable for 19th century plantation agriculture—thus—very few black slaves. However, as is the case with Mormons in Utah, anti-African-American racism is very high.

    “Them negroes is bad.”

    “Well, have you ever had any dealings with them?’

    “Naw. Can’t say that I have.”

    “Well, how do you know they are so bad?”

    “Weezuns is heard things.”

    Yeah. In the early 20th century, the rural farm people in Middle Tennessee had heard things too. I remember them from growing up in that part of the state:

    “We don’t eat tomatoes. We’ve heard tell they are poison.”

    “If you eat fish and drink milk at the same time, you will die. Fish and milk don’t mix.”

    People hear lots of things—and it is often pure bullshit.

  19. “I Choose to Stand Because I Haven’t the Guts to Take a Knee”

    I just got home from watching the Indianapolis Colts defeat the Cleveland Browns. It’s been an interesting day. The eyes of the nation were on the NFL sidelines this week in anticipation of how the players would react in the wake of President Trump’s comments suggesting that any “son of a bitch” who would take a knee during the National Anthem should be removed from the field and lose his job. If you believe that very unpresidential rhetoric was anything more than a dog whistle to his dwindling base, you are naive. Donald Trump doesn’t care if those players stand for the anthem or not, but he knows what’s left of his supporters feel strongly about it. But I digress.

    As expected, several members of the Colts and the Browns–as well as the other teams around the league–locked arms and took a knee during the National Anthem. This was met in Lucas Oil Stadium with a brief but loud chorus of boos. A moment after the anthem was finished, a 95 year old veteran was introduced and the stadium erupted with a loud roar of approval–in that roar, I felt, was as much disapproval for those who’d just been kneeling as approval for the old veteran.

    A moment later, a man sitting a couple seats away from me confronted a fan two rows below us who had not stood for the anthem. The young man who had remained seated was wearing a tee shirt with a flag and the word freedom on the back. The man who confronted him said, “I see you have freedom on your shirt but didn’t stand for the anthem. How can that be?” The young man with the freedom shirt said something I couldn’t make out. The man who’d confronted him said, “I’m not trying to pick a fight, I just find it strange.” Cooler heads prevailed and nothing more was said. I found it strange, too. You could cut the irony with a knife. A young man was called out for wearing a shirt about freedom and not standing for the National Anthem. Someone apparently doesn’t really understand what freedom means.

    Here’s another delicious irony–a significant percentage of the people who are most upset by these NFL players taking a knee in protest during the National Anthem are the very same people who’ve been recently bent out of shape about the removal of monuments to Confederate leaders. They are the same people who will rant about how the Confederate flag represents “heritage not hate.” Somehow, they are able to justify support for a group of people who protested against the American flag so vehemently that they created another nation and fought a war against that flag. Now, when the ancestors of the people that war was fought to free choose to kneel in protest about the injustices they see that still exist in our nation 150 years later, people lose their minds. Oh, the irony.

    Here is the thing too many people seem to miss: These kneeling protestors are not disrespecting veterans–not even a little bit. They are actually honoring the sacrifices those veterans made to protect our freedoms by exercising our ultimate freedom–the freedom to protest when we feel our country isn’t living up to it’s creed. They are crying out for our great nation to be greater–to be what it is supposed to be.
    I choose to stand for the National Anthem. I don’t have the guts to take a knee. I don’t want to face the repercussions of taking a knee. I don’t want to have to get into a confrontation over it. I have lived a privileged life to the extent that I haven’t had anything I’ve felt the personal need to protest. But, because of the lessons that I am learning about the message of those who choose to take a knee, I now feel some discomfort each and every time I stand, place my hand over my heart and face the flag. Every time I hear the National Anthem now, I am thinking about hurting people who feel let down by that flag–people with a wholly different American experience from me. I’m here to tell you that’s a good thing–that discomfort I am now feeling is a good thing. The reason those young men are kneeling isn’t to disrespect anyone. It is so that I will feel some discomfort as I stand. God bless them for that.

    I am on the fence about the Black Lives Matter cause. I’m not ready to commit to being 100% in support of it. I have too many unanswered questions. But if millions of people perceive a problem, I’m not cavalier or dismissive enough to write them off. People are hurting and frightened, that’s enough to get my attention. When I see them care enough to take a knee when they know they will risk their livelihoods in doing so, I don’t think of it as disrespectful, I think it’s admirable–yes, I admire them. I wish I had the guts to take such a stand as they about something important to me.

    I barely had the guts to sit down and write this article–even as I type this sentence, I’m still not sure I will even publish it. I know that if I do, a lot of people I know will be angered and disappointed by it. But writing is what I do and whenever I ever do manage to muster up intestinal fortitude, it usually manifests itself through my fingertips on a keyboard.

    That’s a lot safer than taking a knee under a cacophony of 70,000 boos raining down from an angry stadium full of fans and facing the wrath of millions more on social media and yes, even the White House.

  20. Thanks, John, for helping me realize the complete nature of something I was experiencing. Every time someone said, “I just want to go watch the game, without politics.” I wanted to scream. I know that it is that sense of privilege talking. I know that people don’t want to acknowledge the struggle that SO many of our citizens still live with every day. Thank you every day for your thoughts. It’s encouraging and uplifting to know there are still people who think rationally and act graciously.

  21. The one thing I feel our President is master of is creating discord and chaos. Along with his never ending lies, these are qualities I can not respect in a man and especially in a President.

    Since his Presidency we have been barraged with name calling and disparagement of mostly American citizens culminating in the latest expletive – “Son of A Bitch NFL Player”. He doesn’t realize that when certain people call others names it lessens who they are not the other way around.

    I have never thought of our President as a racist because I do not believe he cares about anyone else enough to feel anything – except for Obama – a half black man who dared make Trump the butt of some jokes. A bruise to his massive ego is what he sees. If he is not an actual racists he surely knows how to play to his base – first to lie for years about the whole birther thing and kick off his campaign by demonizing Mexicans and Muslims – the first being rapists and criminals and along with Muslims stealing true (white) American jobs – neither of those proved to be true.

    Now I am waiting for conservatives – you know those “small government” people, to agree with Trump’s words otherwise signaling that it only matters when it is not conservatives butting into your business. Imagine if Obama had ordered a business to fire someone – or any of the other odious behavior of this administration.

    In the last months we have been subjected to watching Nazi’s waving Nazi flags and hooded KKK members with Confederate flags marching through streets. To me the Confederate flag is the anti-American flag just as the Confederacy did not want to be part of the United States – just like Texas threatens to succeed from the US from time to time.

    With all this how can anyone make such a big deal about taking a knee? The reason was because of unarmed black people being shot by police. How are they supposed to protest in a way that would be acceptable? You cannot be left with any other option that this actually is prejudice. Trump applauds those at NASCAR – whose fans and drivers are mostly white males and demonizes basketball and football, whose players have a percentage who are not white.

    He has done this on purpose because he is once again creating a distraction – maybe Paul Manafort was getting to much press. As was said on the new “Instead of rallying the country behind the 3.4 million American citizens who live in Puerto Rico, Trump has instead sent more than a dozen tweets about the NFL.

    My own personal opinion is that turning ones back on the flag, or talking and laughing during the National Anthem or running to the restroom is more of an insult to the flag than kneeling. Many get on their knees to pray.

    Regardless Trump has once again hurt this country by making this whole thing bigger than it needed to be. I applaud the NFL for sticking together to stand up against Trump’s divisive actions. I also applaud the NBA. Maybe athletes are overpaid but our President gives us proof that money can not buy class and a soul.

    • Well said, but one correction if I may

      “just like Texas threatens to succeed from the US from time to time”

      I live in Texas. No one and I mean NO one has ever asked us, if we the people of Texas, wanted to Suceed from the USA.

      Every time that comes up, its a totally political move by a Republican government. None of whom I voted for.

      Just as Congress and the Dumpter in the Oval office, keep trying to push things into law that the majority in the US never asked for.

      By hook or by crook, mostly crook, these fools get into office and the second they do, they totally ignore the people they are supposed to represent.

      So please remember that when you talk about.. Red states like Texas, that not everyone who lives in them ( in fact I would be willing to say a large number who live in them ) are not in play here.

      Our opinion is not asked. Our collective will, is not being represented by our government, just like the rest of the county, is being ignored.

      • Esta Weiss, I do apologize for my words painting with too broad of a brush. You are absolutely right – “our collective will is not being represented by our government”.

        I doubt many have long wished for a broad tax reform that will benefit the 1% being the one and only definitive decided on so far. That is certainly not a priority for me and my friends and family.

        Years ago it was campaign promises to work across the aisle for the good of all citizens that got people elected. No one even pretends that is going to happen these days.

        I doubt the majority of people actually want to spend billions of tax payer money on Trump’s wall either.

        We do know the majority of voters wanted Hillary for President.

        Peace Esta Weiss

  22. As a white person who has had someone from my family serve in every war this country has had the misfortune to be in, who has had family members serve in the military in every generation since the inception of this country, (something the person sitting in the white house can’t say, he hasn’t had anyone serve, too good I guess) I take a knee in support of those who have been marginalized, had their rights taken away, been disrespected. Peace and Love to those who are willing to take a knee for the rights of EVERYONE.

  23. As always, Mr. Pavlovitz, brilliant. Oh how I wish my female cousin, who lives in Texas, could wake up and face the truth of this country that makes her so very uncomfortable and afraid.

  24. “Never mind that those actually protesting have denied such things over and over and over again, both before and after every game.”

    Are you stupid or are you hoping your readers are?

    “Colin Kaepernick: I won’t stand ‘to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people'” – USA Today, 27 Aug 2016

    That “oppression” would be making $13 million per year in a football league comprised of 70% black players.

    • Rob S wrote, “That “oppression” would be making $13 million per year in a football league comprised of 70% black players.”

      Since football is an orgy of legalized, organized violence that adversely affects the mental and well-being of the athletes, it seems to me they don’t get paid enough to participate in this new form of slavery.

      • Slavery? Wow, you have a very twisted sense of logic.

        Since when is it “slavery” to voluntarily run around on a football field and be paid millions to do it? Are the white players slaves too, or just the black ones?

        I have trouble keeping up with liberals and their obsession with skin color.

    • Read the post again, which explains Kaepernick’s motivations quite clearly.
      Pro tip: rudeness may make you feel better, but convinces nobody.

      Several people have asked, when is it OK for people of color to protest? The answer appears to be: out of the eyesight and hearing of anyone who might get upset about it. I quote a popular new meme:


    • If every NFL team had the maximum allowable roster, that would come out to about 1,700 players. If we go by your “70% black” estimate, that comes to about 1,190 black players.

      According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there were about 42 million non-Hispanic Black Americans living in the United States. That means approximately 0.0002% of Black Americans are players in the NFL.

      To be generous to your point, let’s round down your $13 million number to a round $10 million per year and see how many NFL players make more than that. According to Sportrac’s NFL salary rankings, 91 of the NFL’s players make $10 million dollars or more. That is about 5% of all NFL players. I don’t have a ready source to tell me how many of those 91 are black, so for simplicity let’s do our calculations with the assumption that they all are. 91 out of 42 million is about 0.00002% — an order of magnitude lower than if we count the total number of Black NFL players.

      Am I being too literal? Maybe you are just arguing that professional athletes in general are not oppressed, so I should include all of the Black players in the NBA (336), MLB (64), and NHL (30). Ignoring the salary factor, that puts approximately 1,620 Black athletes in the top national sporting leagues, or approximately 0.00038% of the African American population of the United States.

      So your assertion is that claims of Black people being oppressed are nonsense because four ten-thousandths of one percent of Black Americans have high-paying jobs as professional athletes. Do I have that right?

    • So Rob, basically you’re proving the whole point of the article.
      Calling names is a childish response. And clearly you’re willfully misunderstanding the point Kaepernick and the others are trying to make. None of them are saying that they, themselves, while playing football are being oppressed . They are saying that even though they are part of the lucky minority that have largely escaped that (at least financially), they still refuse to turn their backs on the millions of others who deal with it on a daily basis. They are willing to use the platform they have and the visibility they have to draw attention to a systematic problem that affects the daily lives of non- whiten people every day.
      I guess there’s a LOT of white people out there who feel like, “gosh, we pay these black guys so much money – why won’t they just shut up?”

  25. I’m a veteran, and it is irksome to me that these arm chair warriors are claiming that I’m being disrespected by people who engage in peaceful protest. I’m sure there are some veterans who feel insulted by the manner of protest, but I’m not one of them, and I can assure you that 45 and his administration do not speak for me.

    The oppressors do not get to tell the oppressed how to protest injustice. The First Amendment, and the rest of the Constitution, is what I swore to protect from our enemies. These men have the right to protest, whether it offends people or not.

    Considering how many flag code violations I see every single day, I suspect this faux outrage is not quite as genuine as these people would like us to believe.

  26. “From One Who Sacrificed: Stop Using Me in Your Anti-“Take a Knee” Argument”

    “You’ve probably been hearing it not just daily, but in a dozen different places across the internet: taking a knee during the national anthem is disrespectful to those who sacrificed in the service of this country.

    “I’ve heard it so many times in the last week, from the President to random people with flags as a profile picture, that I’m exhausted by it.

    “What has been even more difficult when listening to this “you’re disrespecting our vets” argument, is watching people like myself be put at the center of it– often by people who are not one of us. These self-professed “great Americans” claim to be the ones who honor me, and that others are diminishing my service.”

    “So you know what? I can speak for myself on this whole “taking a knee disrespects our vets,” because I’ve earned my right to speak.

    “Here is what I’d like to tell all of you who make this argument on “my behalf.”

    “On the day I entered the military, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. I didn’t take that oath lightly– it meant something to me.

    “While our constitution covers a lot of ground, what stood out in my mind all those years were the basic freedoms granted by the first amendment: the freedom of religion, freedom of speech/expression, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, and the right to petition the government.

    “The chunk of my life I gave? All those things that I lost and can never get back? Well, I did that to support these core ideals that Americans have long cherished.

    “And what I need those of you who claim taking a knee disrespects my sacrifice to hear, is this:

    “Instead of disrespected, I feel my sacrifice deeply honored every single time I see a football player take a knee– because that represents the freedom of speech and expression that I gave so much of myself to uphold.

    “In fact, nothing honors my sacrifice more than the public exercise of these core freedoms.

    “What I’d also like you to know is that it is actually your position that disrespects what I have given for this nation.

    “When you vilify and harass someone for the peaceful exercise of their rights, and when you participate in a public campaign to harm or end their careers simply because they are using the very rights veterans like myself have sacrificed for, you disrespect me.

    “You insult me. You dishonor me.

    “You exploit me for your own cause.

    “In fact, there is nothing more opposed to the values I fought for than to use threats and coercion to force someone to express something they don’t wish to express.

    “You say you are offended when these players take a knee, and that they are disrespecting my sacrifice to the nation.

    “But the reality?

    “There is no position that disrespects me, or dishonors my sacrifice, more than yours does.”


    • Thank you for saying what I am sure so many are thinking. As you are totally right.

      You earned the right to say something to the people who are trying to drag you, the flag, the anthem, into something that has nothing to do with any of that.

      You fought for our right to freedom , and we thank you for that.. too.

  27. I guess it is just much more convenient to argue but this kind of thing instead of getting involved in Puerto Rico and other devastated countries in the Carribean.

    We need to love our neighbor, not argue them to death.

    “Christians Are Far Too Easily Distracted by Things That Don’t Matter”

  28. “Excuse Me, Your Idols Are Showing: Why an Athlete Kneeling is Totally Biblical”

    “A few weeks ago, a woman stopped by the Jerseygirl, JESUS Facebook page, to tell me that she absolutely, positively, was in no way going to sign up for The Banquet, an online membership community I’ve started. When I asked her why, she said, “Because I am a conservative Christian and so I don’t believe in social justice.”

    “I laughed out loud, and thought, what the heck Bible is she reading? Because my Bible is filled with social justice. I mean, it’s kind of hard to miss. It’s right there, in the Hebrew scriptures and the Gospels and Letters. This little library of books we hold so dear is literally dripping social justice and the subversion of empire.

    “And now, as athletes from various sports teams from all over the country are following in Colin Kaepernick’s lead and taking a knee during the national anthem, people are storming Facebook (again) after the president of the United States absurdly called for any kneeling NFL player to be fired (which is an entirely different post. Suffice it to say that if your true blue American ideals are not deeply disturbed by our president calling for the firing of a person exercising their first amendment rights, then you may need a refresher civics course. Just sayin’.).

    “Many of the people who are sputtering and red in the face over the fact that athletes are kneeling are — no surprise here — Christians. White Christians. Christians who maybe have their gods a little confused, because I’m gonna take a hot second to say here: the flag is not supposed to be your god. The national anthem is not supposed to be your god. Excuse me, but your idols are showing, because if you’re more upset by an athlete respectfully taking a knee (and I’ll talk more about that in a minute) than you are about actual human lives being lost, then you should maybe add a Bible class to that Civics class you need to take. Also, maybe a Google spreadsheet class, because that program has this handy-dandy tool where you can number things and then sort your freaking priorities.

    “I hear a lot of Christians saying we’re supposed to accept the powers that be because God installed the government, pointing to a few scriptures that they are taking out of the larger context. When you look at Jesus’ ministry as a whole, everything about it was subverting empire, and many of Jesus’ actions were highly political — from the calling of the first disciples, who as fishermen were intricately entwined with the Roman economic system to his care for the poor and oppressed. Jesus regularly made anti-empire statements with both word and deed. That might have something to do with why the Romans killed him.

    “Micah tells us that all God requires of us is to “do justice, to love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.” (6:8). And in Daniel 3, when Nebuchadnezzar builds a huge statue and demands that people bow down, Daniel and his buddies don’t. When everyone else is kneeling down, these guys stay standing.

    “See where I’m going with this?

    “It’s not anti-God to protest. In fact, it’s pretty Biblical. Especially when it comes to false gods.”

    More to read at:

    • It’s anti-good-manners to turn an event that is pure entertainment into a political platform. You’ll soon sour on the idea if any of these players respects life in the womb and decides to protest against Planned unParenthood unjustly killing black babies.

      • Joe, could you please, just once, stay on topic and get off of you obsession with the female uterus? A grateful nation would thank you.

  29. The players are disrespecting their boss & their commercial sponsors. They certainly have the right to do that. [But the owners & advertisers are free to make choices too. ]

    The owners have a decision to make. Like most business owners, it will have to do with economics. Make money? Lose money?

    The players have a decision to make too…are they willing to lose their paycheck like CK did? –Time will tell.

  30. Actually, it all started because of Kaepernick’s protest of the flag: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses white people.” Literally said it was about the flag and what it “stands for”.

  31. I agree , this isn’t about the flag. It’s a protest against President Trump winning the election. If the media had not given them any coverage they would not have had a “pay off”. They would have grown tired or bored of kneeling. I am sure liberals everywhere hit the jackpot when President Trump called them out on it. I would truly like to know what their mistreatment is in this country. I do believe black people are wrongly profiled by the police. This I agree is wrong. Murdering random police officers can not be right. Destroying property because of anger against the law can not be right. What I don’t understand is why the left call out President Trump as a racist, is it because they want him to be one? Please give reasons, I want to understand. He does not support the white supremest people and has stated that over and over. (Don’t you dare give the example when he was saying there were good people on both sides) as an example. When he made that comment he was thinking of some people in the crowd being opposed of tearing down statues as why they were protesting. It was a very stupid comment that he didn’t think through before saying. Liberals loved it and ran with it. Black people were not happy before President Trump was in office so why now are the football athletes demostrating? I would really like to know. I will say this, I don’t know what black people experience. I hate injustice and they could have some very valid reasons for protesting. What exactly and against whom are they protesting? Why now and why the flag? Color shouldn’t matter, we are all equal in God’s eyes.

    • Anonymous Again, Colin Kapernick first sat and then took a knee last pre season – over 13 months ago. He was protesting the killing of unarmed black citizens by the police and those same policemen facing no consequence. How should this be addressed?

      Last weekend was a showing of unity against this President using patriotism and flag as his props to incite conflict and chaos. He gave them no other choice but to unify. Over the weekend Trump tweeted about the National Anthem controversy 20 times – Puerto Rico devastation 0 times.

      Do you think it is a President’s place to call names and say someone should be fired?

      He created this faux outrage on purpose. Many people still honor the Confederate flag – it is the anti US flag. I have never been where the National Anthem has been sung that there hasn’t been laughing, talking, eating, walking around – have you? Aaron Rodgers tweeted a picture of 3 cameramen kneeling, one wearing a hat, filming the players during the National Anthem. This is done at every game. No outrage.

      This President has spoken before policemen and told them to be rougher. He is a cruel, petty man pretending to be tough. While he has constantly disparaged this country, this government, and its citizens he has never told us what American was or when it was great.

      He has incited his fans to boo John McCain, a man who has served this country for decades, was a POW, and is suffering from cancer. Trump said his personal Vietnam was not contracting an STD.

      Peace Anonymous Again

    • No. We hit the jackpot when Trump was elected President. I think everyone is waking up to that fact right now. When the dead start piling up from neglect in Puerto Rico—well—it ain’t gonna be pretty for anyone with a “R” beside their name.

  32. In the 60s, I thought the Black Panthers were scary. The more I learned, the less scary I found them; I agreed with everything they stood for. I still do; and I wish they were still with us. As a white person, I acknowledge that somewhere in my depths is racism; but I fight it with all my will. This is a terrific article. Thanks, John.

    • In September 1970, a Black Panther saved my life in the IRT platform on W 103rd St, NYC. A man with wads of newspaper stuffed between the lining and the outer cover of his coat tried to through me off the subway platform into the pat of the oncoming express train which didn’t stop at 103.

      A Black Panther on patrol stopped him, apprehending him until the transit police came and saved my life and who knows how many others on that train.

      I had never been afraid of the Black Panthers and have told that story often to people who were.

  33. Kaepernick did not vote. He and Trump are the “deploribles”. Trump and his people are thrives.
    Knock off this crap of “some white people”. Your opinions don’t include any facts.
    I’m a woman. I’ve attended a Black Lives Matter protest, after Heather was killed and many injured.
    I was a victim of police brutality. I was abused several times. The races were black and white. The worst was a Black woman who yelled as she abused me.

  34. Are you just a late bandwagon jumper or simply a dyed in the wool leftist liberal? Not about the flag or country? Kaepernick’s own words: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag . . . ” Oh so it IS about the flag. ” . . . for a country . . . ” and about the country. So that’s two out of three. Should we talk about the supposed “inequity” from law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and government? Or do you want to quit before you get too far behind?

  35. Pingback: The NFL Player Protests - JaxPolitix - Disambiguation from the political and social musings of Jack Altschuler

  36. I posted a respectful alternative perspective on a friend’s posted meme which attempted to pull the “patriotic-slight-of-hand” you mentioned above. I also quoted a friend and vet’s comments supporting a similar alternative take. I prefaced my post by stating that I was not trying to change minds but to offer a different perspective because that is what a “free” country should reflect-to hear statements with which we won’t always agree. My take away from the responses that were aimed at me were vindictive and angry and pretty much par for the course coming from any nationalist thinking. The people replying could not see the true meaning of freedom and equality through their shouts of “respect and patriotism.” Some could barely even carry on a thoughtful discussion without dropping expletives and threats. It begs the question of what lies at the root of this deep-seated fear. These people are down right scared. In light of this I would think they would be at least able to empathize with what is being protested….until they realize they are part of the problem.

  37. Dear John Pavlovitz:

    Respect? Yes. Honor? Same.
    Reverence crosses the line.

    NO to civil religion!
    NO to state religion of political piety!
    NO to idolatry and blasphemy!

    Reverence is reserved for God.


  38. You need to get off the drugs and clear your mind of all the garbage that was implanted where ever you went to school and take a deep breath. When the fog clears you may be able to see the truth. If not you surly have grounds to get a refund from what ever college you went to. You need to go back and reread what you wrote. You mistakenly pointed out the leftist in this country while attempting to bash TRUMP. HE is the President. Get over it. If not feel free to keep proving me right with more of your genius.

    • Dear Ken Clark:

      No less a figure than Vladimir Lenin said that unless they begin to identify the class interests behind every political campaign, attack, image, slogan and narrative, people remain politically illiterate.

      After months of behind-closed-doors preparation, a major attack on US citizens is being unleashed. So here’s the thing:

      Please identify for us from what social layer this latest assault on US citizens originates, name those involved, indicate from what social class that opposition will arise and what form it will likely take, and what outcomes are expected?

      Given the clarity of your vision beside Mr. Pavlovitz’ political fog, i’m sure this will take but a few moments, and it should prove immensely beneficial to those of us who are less enlightened.


  39. I am surprised, shocked, and dismayed that even my Facebook feed full of friends are angry, almost to the point of derangement, about some athletes taking a knee. From the vitriol you would think they were burning the flag and spiting on cops and soldiers. They just took a knee, nothing more. Do we now live in a country that requires me to stand and worship a flag?

    The first three statements are what I see on my Facebook. Someone told them these statements, but I have no idea who.

    My focus is Puerto Rico now. We are desperate to get equipment in to facilitate further shipments. The “take the knee” thing seems to be way overblown right now.

    • Dear Robin:

      Fun Facts!

      We sent helicopters into Iraq with pallet-loads of money!
      Puerto Rico is much closer to the US than Iraq!
      Unlike Iraqis, Puerto Ricans are US citizens!
      Trump says Puerto Rico owes billions to Wall Street!
      A week after Maria, Puerto Rico is still without aid!
      50+ million Americans live in economically distressed communities!
      Trump’s tax plan means a massive give away to the uber-wealthy!


      We have a GREAT ‘fix’ for dissent:


      PS: Don’t you just love the Democrat Party’s resounding defiance to this?!?

  40. All we need is for a few prominent players to “take the knee” for some other cause, such as the injustice of abortion, and this political preaching in an entertainment venue will be shut down by the left immediately.

        • Interesting you use the phrase “black and white” in this post. Not intentional, but ironic. In this case, the sanctity of life you’re always so pointed and loud about is black life. It would be nice to see you as pointed and loud in defense of those lives.

          • John, the other irony is that Joe Catholic has amply demonstrated he personally only sees black and white.

            He has also shown a lack of compassion for people after they have been born. He takes after his idol in this regard.

            Here is a comment about the monster occupying the Oval Office. Trump himself shared the story.

            “The Day Donald Trump Watched An Octogenarian Bleeding To Death And Did Nothing To Help”


          • Joe Catholic, if you are going to prattle about the sanctity of all life, where are your words of outrage that this man you call your President is allowing people to die in Puerto Rico because he refuses to send aid.

            People are dying and you don’t mind that at all because you love Trump more.

            The thing is, you don’t really care about the living, you don’t really care whether or not people have any dignity or quality to their lives, all you care about is controlling women and forcing them to give birth regardless of any prenatal care, or medical care after the birth.

            You really don’t consider all lives to be sacred. You have no credibility here any longer.

          • Well, I’m sure you’re aware of the racist roots of Planned Parenthood and keeping the black population in check by abortion, which continues to this day.

            At any rate, it’s rude and unfair to fans to use a football game to do protests. How would you like to go to you child’s school play and have to be subject to whatever political statements a teacher decided to make before the play began? I would hate that, even if it were about things I agree with.

            This is going to backfire. It’s not in their best interests to do this. Fans want fun entertainment. Not sanctimony and preaching regardless of the merits of the cause.

            • Ah, there it is: Get asked a direct question and you do precisely what Dear Leader does; divert. Nice tactic. Except, we aren’t buying what you are selling.

              Look, let’s review: there is not one single thing in the Flag Code which prevents people (either players or fans) from kneeling. Go check it out if you don’t believe me. There is, however, a clear regulation about allowing that flag to lay horizontally on the field. Bet you didn’t know that now, did you?

              So, if you really are concerned about adhering to the code which should guide each and every citizen’s behavior when colors are presented, perhaps you ought to familiarize yourself with the very code which guides such behavior.

              Also, as a person who served his nation in this nation’s military: while I may not personally agree with every single action taken by some people in this nation to express themselves freely, I surely placed my life on the line to protect that right for each and every citizen; not just those who feel privileged.

              So to summarize: Those players taking a knee – due to their sense of racial injustice whether real or perceived – are engaging in their “constitutional right.” I did not swear upon entering the military that I would fight for a flag, but for every person to be able to live by the document which guides this nation. Perhaps you ought to consider this before getting schooled further on the matter.

              Finally, injustice does prevail in our nation, whether you wish to acknowledge it or not. Abortion – while egregious to those who have a belief in life – is but one component of a far deeper problem. You cannot demand people do not get an abortion, then not provide for the very needs of those born through the persistent cutting of programs which benefit these children. Just last week the CHIP program which guaranteed ALL children a right to medical care, expired under Republican Leadership. While they may have re-instituted the law, the point is they allowed it to expire.

              All of this to say when you argue about abortion you zone in on save one area of life. And you demonstrate your allegiance and fealty to a party which has co-opted our religious beliefs. Because if you really think or believe that Trump happens to be a “Christian,” than you had better be able to explain HOW he became one when admitting he “has never asked nor seen the need to ask for any forgiveness in his life.”

        • Oh Charles – you must be talking about yourself. It’s funny that the two of you who are constantly promoting yourselves on these pages while disparaging others cannot abide negative feed back. Mr. Pavlovitz has proven to be much more secure in his beliefs and writings by allowing other voices. Obviously this is a lesson in true strength and inclusivity that you have no interest in learning.

          Peace Charles

          • I have a gift for you Joanne:

            Hi everyone. I just extensively revised and added additional information to the “About” and “My Profile” sections on my blog entitled “Flee from Christian Fundamentalism.” If you would like to read them, please feel free to click on the following safe link:


            • Charles,

              Thanks, but you really shouldn’t have. I don’t accept gifts from strange. . . I mean strangers and besides I am way to busy right now. 😴

              Peace Charles

  41. John, so well said! If you could speak to the surviving families, or the veterans in va hospitals , or the foreign legion i think they would understand!! Oh yeah if only the lord jesus would have had the depth of insite that you posess my brother!

  42. This really resonated for me…how fragile we must be as a country, when a peaceful gesture to bring attention to a worthwhile topic is met with such shrill and frantic rhetoric. By trying to make these guys into flag hating, country hating, military/veteran hating , anthem hating non-patriots, they get to avoid having a real conversation about what’s being said. It reminds me of a five year old, holding their hands over their ears and yelling “blah blah blah” so they can’t hear what you’re saying.

  43. First off let me say that I really don’t have a problem with the protests and I am not offended by them but to do what they are doing and then saying we are not disrespecting the flag sounds disingenuous. If they are not trying to disrespect the flag or anthem then why do it during the anthem ? Why not do it during the game or after the game or do it in front of a police station or city hall or the White House ? At the very least perception of many is that they are and actions speak louder than words.

  44. Your assessment only perpetuates further inaccuracy. If what you say is true, why is Kaep always seen wearing pro-communist / anti-American logos or slogans? Che Guevara and Fidel Castro are hardly heroes of a social justice and equality. Additionally, the entire premise of “BLM” has not been supported by reality, such as FBI crime statistics and actual courtroom testimony, i.e. Michael Brown case.

    • Kap is usually seen prominently displaying signs of his Christian faith. How did you mistake those for anti-American or Communist images?
      BLM not reality? Has somebody resurrected Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, etc., etc., etc.?

  45. A police officer that kills an innocent black person; disrespects the flag.
    A justice system that doesn’t hold these officers accountable; disrespects the flag.
    A President that calls people SOBs and states that the KKK and Nazis have some good people; disrespects the flag.
    Exploiting dead soldiers to try to shut down someone’s First Amendment Right; disrespects the flag.
    Anyone who kneels during the National Anthem in order to bring about more peace, liberty and justice in our world; is reflecting all that the flag symbolizes and not only honors the flag but, makes it better.

  46. A police officer that kills an innocent black person; disrespects the flag.
    A justice system that doesn’t hold these officers accountable; disrespects the flag.
    A President that calls people SOBs and states that the KKK and Nazis have some good people; disrespects the flag.
    Exploiting dead soldiers to try to shut down someone’s First Amendment Right; disrespects the flag.
    Anyone who kneels during the National Anthem in order to bring about more peace, liberty and justice in our world; is reflecting all that the flag symbolizes and not only honors the flag but, makes it better.

  47. I am sure that many “kneelers” have the attitude s you are describing in your post, however; I have seen a number of statements from non-whites in opposition to the kneelers. Yes, I’ve seen more statements from whites but at the present time there are more whites in the USA than any other race.
    I question the sincerity of Mr. Kaepernick’s and the other kneelers protest because I have heard or read of nothing, other than kneeling during the National Anthem, that any of them have done, no money given, no time donated, to advance the cause they claim to support.

    If I hold something in high respect, symbol or not, and someone behaves in a way that I perceive as disrespectful towards that object I respect, I will become angry. Before I take any action I will ask the offender to explain their actions and I will then explain to them how I feel about that object, the flag and the anthem , and request them to do their protesting in some other fashion. The kneelers have been heard, loud and clear. If they choose not to hear us and continue to disrespect our feelings by changing their behavior then they and those who support them will continue to experience my protest of their way of protesting.

    • I am sorry for your ignorance.
      Kaepernick continually donates his own money to worthy causes such as education and fighting poverty as violence. You could find this out from a simple Google search if you took the time to make one.

    • Gwen wrote, “If the protest is not about the flag, anthem or military, why involve the flag, anthem or military in the protest?”

      People who want to ignore the reasons for taking a knee are trying to gaslight us into thinking that it is about the anthem, flag, and the military.

      People take a knee in protest of the systemic racism in the USA as flagrantly demonstrated by the present administration.

  48. You sir are one of the most disrespectful people! A ‘piece of cloth’! The flag is place on every coffin of every military person who has serviced or died while in combat. ‘Piece of cloth’…..I’d tell you what you are a piece of….but I am too much of a gentlemen. Karma has a way of striking back. May it have mercy on you. You’re disrespectful and real American’s have spoken loud and clear how they feel about these disrespectful protests. I’d say more but you aren’t worth any more of my time.

    • Timothy Wilcox claims taking a knee is disrespectful to veterans. ‘Tis a pity he didn’t discuss this with actual veterans who disagree with him. They fought so the USA could be free, that means they fought to support the first Amendment. They fought so USians could be free to take a knee.

      Air Force Veteran: ‘I Feel Deeply Honored’ When NFL Players Take A Knee
      Some say kneeling during the national anthem disrespects the military. One vet strongly disagrees.

      Veterans take a knee in support of national anthem protests

      Thank You for Your Service, Whoever You Are
      Opponents of the NFL protests have reduced “the troops” to a monolithic prop. The truth is a lot more complicated.

      Vets Tweet about Take A Knee Protests During NFL Sunday

    • Timothy Wilcox wrote, “You’re disrespectful and real American’s have spoken loud and clear how they feel about these disrespectful protests.”

      it’s a very great pity you and the rest of “real Americans” are ignorant of the facts behind the story. I am quite proud that the conversation that resulted in taking a knee occurred where I live.

      First some history:

      Aug 14, 2016- Colin Kaepernick sits for the national anthem…..and no one noticed.

      Aug 20th, 2016- Colin again sits, and again, no one noticed.

      Aug 26th, 2016- Colin sits and this time he is met with a level of vitriol unseen against an athlete. Even the future President of the United States took shots at him while on the campaign trail. Colin went on to explain his protest had NOTHING to with the military, but he felt it hard to stand for a flag that didn’t treat people of color fairly.

      Then on Aug 30th, 2016 Nate Boyer, a former Army Green Beret turned NFL long snapper, penned an open letter to Colin in the Army Times. In it, he expressed how Colin’s sitting affected him.

      Then a strange thing happened. Colin was able to do what most Americans to date have not…

      He listened.

      Colin invited Nate to San Diego where the two had a 90 minute discussion and Nate proposed Colin kneel instead of sit.
      But why kneel? In a military funeral, after the flag is taken off the casket of the fallen military member, it is smartly folded 13 times and then presented to the parents, spouse or child of the fallen member by a fellow service member while KNEELING.

      The two decided that kneeling for the flag would symbolize his reverence for those that paid the ultimate sacrifice while still allowing Colin to peacefully protest the injustices he saw.

      Empathy, not zealotry under the guise of patriotism, is the only way meaningful discussion can be had.

      This story is true.

      “Did a U.S. Veteran Influence Kaepernick’s ‘Take a Knee’ Protest of Police Brutality?
      Green Beret and NFL player Nate Boyer confirmed he convinced the quarterback to “take a knee,” rather than sit, during the national anthem.”

    • Idolatry is a sin, is it not? Why do you worship the flag as if it is a God? Our flag has no significance without context yet you and millions actually believe that piece of cloth IS our country.

  49. Oh , moderated comments too? Only want to let people see what you agree with? Youre about as retarded as the rest of them. Youll get no where 😉

    • youre wrong subjected us to this, “Oh , moderated comments too? Only want to let people see what you agree with? Youre about as retarded as the rest of them. Youll get no where.”

      Evidently, youre wrong doesn’t understand the concept of blog ownership and right of the blog owner to restrict the privilege of commenters to offer their opinions to those who do so using respectful and validating language.

      If it were my blog, I would reject “youre wrong” because the non de plume chosen and the comments employ incorrect grammar.

  50. Conflict: Using freedom to
    make a statement about the oppression of freedom at a moment when that freedom is to be honored.

    Shouldn’t that be a moment when freedom is honored even more, exemplifying the desire for freedom to be upheld.

    To dishonor the moment when freedom is being honored is to commit a form (to a much lesser degree) of the injustice being protested.

  51. Pingback: Trump Tax, Trump Disaster, Puerto Rico, NFL, Voter Fraud –

  52. I didn’t read your column. Everything after someone disrespects the flag, the national anthem and our country falls on deaf ears, (and a blind eye), and any arguments that tried to made then are moot. Oh I understand you think it’s a protest about some sort of perceived injustice and nothing to do with the flag, national anthem or disrespect. However they are doing it, (kneeling in disregard and disrespect), during that solemn time. So to say it isn’t associated with or about the flag etc insults my intellegence and many others. Can you think of other solemn, revered…dare I say sacred times when protesting is disturbingly innapropriate? Perhaps at a fallen soldiers funeral when they play taps. What’s the big deal? You came for a funeral and you still get a funeral. Perhaps when your mother is praying before a thanksgiving feast. You still get to eat don’t you? I’m sure there is a line you draw where it becomes innapropriate to protest a moment reserved expressly for honoring something sacred to you. Now you might understand the multitudes who find it to be the utmost spit in their collective face. It doesn’t matter the venue nor the occasion, the national anthem is not a time for protest.

    • John Harrinton wrote, “It doesn’t matter the venue nor the occasion, the national anthem is not a time for protest.”

      If you believe in the national anthem, then during it is exactly the right time to protest.

      Otherwise, you don’t believe in the United States Constitution, the Revolution was a mistake, and you also don’t believe in the right to free speech.

      Not only that, you seem to be ignorant about what motivted Colin to first take a knee.

      “Did a U.S. Veteran Influence Kaepernick’s ‘Take a Knee’ Protest of Police Brutality?
      Green Beret and NFL player Nate Boyer confirmed he convinced the quarterback to “take a knee,” rather than sit, during the national anthem.”

  53. Well of course you read it. You wouldn’t have posted it without making sure it wasn’t filled with expletives. Thank you for reading and posting my comments. Your assessment of me is inaccurate though, I’m neither irrational nor part of the problem. I am concerned and sympathetic to people with problems be they with oppression, authority, bigotry etc. I just choose to address them in a dignified and respectful manner because that actually helps. I volunteer, I engage, I’m involved. But you won’t see me being disrespectful. I do have a question that I’m not sure you can answer. Why do you suppose the entirety of the NFL players took offense to President Trumps remarks, (which I find to be distasteful, inflammatory and bombastic), when he was clearly referring to just a handful that were kneeling? Honest question.

  54. I shared this commentary on my Facebook page. I took a knee at a BIG conference college football game. I was harassed by a nearby fan. I sang the anthem loudly and with heart. I took off my hat, I remained on my knee. For the rest of the game the fellow next to us refused to stand to allow us to get out of our row. I was polite in spite of his obvious scorn. Most of my friends and colleagues agree with John’s perspective and believe in our country. However, I have a vein of family that is very extreme right. They have all but disowned me and my family because of my opinion. They believe in Trump and Pence not in the constitution, not for the declaration and not for a great America. They only wish to divide us into the Trump supporters and the Trump opponents. Trumpism dictates we deny there is a racial issue central to the kneeling display. The pain of having a belief in our country’s constitution and how it is being used punitively is outside of the realm of my life’s experience for 55 years. IF only the White House would acknowledge the central point of why players (and fans) are kneeling, then we could move on. The stubborn politicization of this issue will drive wedges between families, citizens, officers of the law and communities. Only through earnest respect of what the central issue here is will we ever get to a goal of making America great again. In the end, when Mr. Trump is done wrecking over 200 years of progress we will truly all be left with wearing hats that say, make America great again–because he is ruining America.

  55. I have never been abused or been in an abusive relationship so I can not even imagine what horrors people who have have gone through.

    I grew up before some women were allowed to have charge cards and homes in their name and most women grew up to be housewives and/or teachers, nurses or office workers. We all knew to lie at a job interview when asked if there was a chance we would be getting pregnant in the near future. I did not feel discriminated against because that was just how things were.

    A woman who had sex before marriage was a slut – a man was a stud. Unmarried pregnant women were disowned by their families and/or shunned and gossiped about by neighbors or former friends. Many committed suicide so as to not face the shame. Illegitimate children were called bastards.

    While I went to school with all races here in California, in the south they were going through segregation. It was hard to understand what all the uproar was about.

    I know I sound overly dramatic but what this country is going through now makes me wonder if this is what the beginning of what an abusive relationship feels like. It seems like the constant chipping away of norms and decency, of our self worth as a country, our personal rights as Americans. I am blessed with a loving husband, family, and friends who are my family. I count these blessings every day. My husband and I worked for what we have. But sometimes when I think of the future for my children, grandchildren and their children it looks so dark.

    We live in a country where a thug on the street boosts a car and if he gets caught – goes to jail. A big bank can steal millions from their customers and – nothing. A corporation can walk away with their employees’ pensions and – nothing. Greedy people on wall street can provide the straw that breaks the camel’s back and take this country to its knees – and nothing. Banks are too big to fail so they get bailed out, but average Joe/Josephine lose their jobs, their homes, their pensions, their pride, and have to start over.

    No one has done anything to stop the income gap between the have and the have nots. I think most Americans are like me, we just want a life – a decent job, a place to raise our families and maybe able to afford a vacation once a year and the right to have a decent retirement without losing everything.

    Our President is a member of the 1%. He is also cruel, petty, and, I think, a danger to this country. To me he abuses people by calling names, mocking them and degrading them. In a word he is an abuser. He thinks his words are the only ones that should be allowed. We never know who he will attack next. Lately it has been those NFL players who kneel.

    On April 12, 1861, after Lincoln became President, the Confederates opened fire on Union Soldiers at Fort Sumter. The Confederate states seceded from the Union (United States) and created their own flag – the anti United States Flag. They believed they had the right to own other human beings, to buy and sell these other human beings, to discipline and even kill these other human beings because they felt those human beings were less human than the white man.

    Even a hundred years after the Civil War statues were erected to praise those traitors who started a war against the United States, Some statues were even promoted by the KKK. The Confederate Flag is still revered loud and proud.

    Trump has decided that kneeling during the National Anthem is not to be allowed. He knows the owners are in it to make money. He knows he and every owner, every wealthy person has the upper hand. He has used this to crush the players – mostly black. A month ago he was speaking up for statues of traitors against the United States. Now it is about honoring the flag those same traitors fought against. All this to show he can crush anyone.

    Now our self-righteous hypocritical Vice President got into the act. This man has excused Trump’s lies, repeated Trump’s lies, and/or ignored Trump’s lies while wearing his religion as a crown.

    How does one look in a mirror and tell themselves that someone whose skin is a different color, whose sexual identity is different, whose pocketbook is not as full, is lesser and should be treated as such. How far can this abuse go? Why do so many see things so differently than I do?

  56. I think what it really boils down to is how you actually view America? Some people see America as a homphobic hate filled place that’s actively trying to suppress them. Others do not. There are plenty of people (not just white) who truly believe America is STILL a land of opportunity. You’re right that a lot of the protests have nothing to do with the actual flag but those protesters (who do have every right to kneel) need to remember that their kneeling does nothing but create more divisiveness.

    We all know this movement stems from BLM and their narrative that all police officers brutalize black people. The truth, however, is that at least of half of the case they grandstand on were, in fact, legitimate uses of force when the “victim” was commiting a crime and/or attacking the officer (grabbing his gun, racing towards him).

    Saying that Obama was better because he acknowledged the disparity of “unequality” is disingenous, he gave BLM more of a platform to speak but he did nothing to talk about the black on black violence in inner cities or the need to for both officers and minority communities to find commonality.

    The fact is today, the US is LESS racist and has more equality than it has ever had in its history – BLM can’t name one institution or specific policy that is racist.

    So what kind of America do you live in? Do you blame others for your problems or do you take responsibility for your life. Are you going to kneel during an anthem that is meant to bring us all together, or if you’re truly concerned, are you going to go into those neighborhoods and make a real difference every day?

  57. I disagree, this all started as a protest to the flag in Colin K’s own words:

    “I AM NOT GOING TO STAND UP TO SHOW PRIDE IN A FLAG for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game.

    • My sons wear the uniform so you can Stand,Sit,Kneel,Sing or Not,When was the last time at a game you were next to someone who Didn’t Remove their cap? or….place their hand over their heart ? Were they removed from the game? Of course not!we are afforded these options because We Are Free!

  58. Who makes one the the arbiter of how one should feel about this? If someone finds it disrespectful, regardless of the motivation, then who are you to say that person shouldn’t feel that way? You’re welcome to question how genuine they are being when they claim disrespect, but if they truly do feel disrespect, then you would be wise to accept and acknowledge instead of trying to deflect from the issue. Failure to do so demonstrates a lack of empathy akin to that which has frustrated the kneelers themselves. This whole article is part of the problem by creating a vicious cycle of finger pointing. How about this… take the knee, but then stand up and say “I’m sorry you find my actions disrespectful, but now can we talk?”

  59. Whatever these protests may be about is not the issue to me.
    Any other person who was on the clock at work would not be allowed to protest during working hours, and while being paid on the clock for their job, and still keep their job.
    This is their job, while it may be on a football field…it is still their job and they are “On The Clock”
    I would not expect to go to a resturant and have anyone who worked there subject me to a protest while trying to dine, or go to my doctors office and be subjected to watching them protest while I am there for a check up.
    The same should be said for football games, people go for entertainment, not to watch a protest.
    You want to protest…fine but do it on your own time…
    They might have found more sympathy towards their issues had they done this on their own time….not all of us have the opportunity to make our beliefs seen and heard at such a public place, seems like the famous get the advantage on this platform they have because they can.
    You go to a football game, watch an awards show, and so on and so on…you are subjected to their protests and rants…they abuse their platform and then expect everyone to just listen and sit back and be understanding.
    None of them live a normal life, like us regular people…I am not so sure making millions a year, having armed body guards, and gated mansions puts them on any of our levels…yet they have no problem shoving their beliefs in our faces any chance they get.

    Katy Perry goes on and on about gun control, is she willing to give up her armed body guards, and her gated mansion with an armed guard at the front gate? I would bet not…and sure she is at risk for stalkers and wackos..I am sure way more than us regular people…however she can keep her protection but no one else should be able to?

    I realize that her rant has nothing to do with the post here, it is just another point of how if you have the platform you can kneel, rant, and protest…but are you doing it because you can and at the end of the day you will still have your millions, and nothing in your life will change?? And it gives you more publicity? Or do they truly believe what they are protesting?

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