Once upon a time, kneeling was a sign of respect, even adoration. People would kneel before kings and while they prayed in church. Many of us still kneel when we pray.
Yet somehow, kneeling is now taken as a sign of extreme disrespect when some football players choose to kneel during the national anthem. Why?
It would be disrespectful if the NFL players had turned their backs, shouted or otherwise been disruptive. But kneeling? Some even knelt with their hands over their hearts.
Their actions showed respect but also a desire to call attention to something they think is wrong. For Colin Kaepernick, it is racism. Some of the players who “took a knee” may have had the same motive, but for others, it was an effort to bring attention to the right to peaceful protest.
There is racism in America. We need to recognize it. We need to hear from those who bear the brunt of it. Disparaging someone who brings attention to it - in a peaceful way - should not be disparaged.
Americans also have the right to protest peacefully. We have the right to stand – or not – when the national anthem is played. We have the right to agree or disagree with the president, with our senators, with our county supervisors and with each other.
There is no law requiring Americans to stand for the national anthem - despite a "fake news" Facebook story making the rounds. It has become the custom to stand, but it is not a law.
There is so much that divides us these days, and sometimes it seems that we make up our minds to intentionally put the worst light possible on those “on the other side.”
This is one of those times.
In a country dedicated to freedom and freedom of expression, there have to be many ways to show patriotism and love of country. People who peacefully point out things they see wrong are showing respect for America’s Constitution and laws.
Setting up arbitrary measures of patriotism does not.