Ken Laird reports in WEEI on the National Anthem controversy, writing:
I support the cause but I have a question: Do NFL players need to kneel during the National Anthem this fall to effectively protest or not?
In 2016, genuflecting pioneer Colin Kaepernick described his refusal to stand for the anthem this way: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
At that moment it was distinctly a flag and anthem issue. And at a minimum sitting or kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” made Kaepernick’s protest most effective, providing the megaphone for his message.
But four years later, does the flag still need to be involved?
Depends on who you ask, I guess.
Last August, NFL partner Jay-Z said “I think we’ve moved past kneeling. I think it’s time for action.”
That comment was met with some vitriol, with NFL players Kenny Stills and Eric Reid among those who vehemently disagreed that kneeling was a thing of the past.
Now, the George Floyd murder has changed the conversation dramatically. Earlier this week NFL commissioner Roger Goodell seemingly gave the league’s seal of approval to anthem kneeling, saying they “encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.”
And to be sure, the national mood has changed. Personally, I feel like I NOW so better understand what Kapernick was fighting for in the first place. It’s a shame it took another graphic killing during a pandemic to bring the message home, but unfortunately, my skull was quite thick on that matter.
But, to be sure, if the flag is still involved this fall some will still be offended. Some may refuse to watch.
If that’s the only choice, then count me in the “so be it” crowd. The essential causes of ending systemic racism and preventing the deaths and mistreatment of more black Americans outweigh any lost TV ratings or corporate dollars.
And yet despite that mindset, I find that I keep asking myself why we have to make that choice? Do the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests still have to be tied into the Anthem, thereby seriously hurting the feelings of some who served our country, or the families of those who lost loved ones to protect us?
My late father Joe was among those who didn’t understand Kaepernick’s goals in 2016. A Vietnam veteran and lifelong football fan, he quit watching the NFL in the last few years of his life. He felt disrespected. I often ask myself if he would better grasp it all now.
But judging by some callers to The Greg Hill Show this week, we know many still don’t get the anthem tie-in. Our show’s poll question Monday asking, “If NFL players kneel during the national anthem this fall will you be offended?” resulted in 29% of respondents saying they would be bothered by it.
It is still a divisive issue.
Read more here.