OPINION: Despite grievances, united we should stand during the anthem

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Last Sunday, the National Football League saw a record number of participants in the “take a knee” protests started 13 months ago by Colin Kaepernick to shed light on police brutality and the injustices that racial minorities have to endure in this country.

The NFL’s players are exhibiting their right to free speech by kneeling during the national anthem before football games. However, with an understanding of what the flag represents, their measures of protesting are hypocritical and not the most effective way they can express their dissatisfaction with this country.

I would urge NFL players to utilize the enormous platform they have — pregame and postgame interviews, press conferences and large social media followings — to create change, rather than protesting one of our country’s greatest traditions.

The American flag and “The Star-Spangled Banner” show no favoritism because they represent unity. They are not symbols of the Republican or Democratic Party, they are representations of the United States of America.

We take a moment before professional sporting events to come together as one, to step back from the rivalries and disagreements we may have and come together as citizens of one country.

We go before the flag recognizing that although our nation is imperfect, we have the opportunity to create change. That has been showcased throughout the course of our nation’s history, and we enjoy an incredible amount of freedoms and privileges that we should be grateful for.

I am one of the many Americans who interprets kneeling for the national anthem as a sign of disrespect.

I know this is not the purpose of their actions — it is a means to shed light on civil injustice. However, our actions also have implicit effects, and one of the consequences of kneeling for the national anthem is that many Americans interpret this act as disrespectful.

According to the Public Broadcasting Service, over 1.1 million Americans have been killed in all U.S. wars. Because of the great sacrifice of our military personnel, we have the freedoms of religion, speech, press, peaceful assembly and petitioning the government for a redress of grievances.

These sacrifices and freedoms are what our flag represents. By boycotting the flag, players are showing ungratefulness to the men and women who have served our country, as well as protesting the very thing that gives them the democratic right to do so.

All things considered, this situation could be greatly improved if each side seeks to understand the opposing side’s opinions. I believe that if NFL players truly pondered the meaning of the flag and the national anthem, they would understand the anger many Americans feel and then seek more respectful ways to showcase the injustices that are prevalent in their lives.

If these injustices are highlighted through press conferences, interviews and social media and an effort is made to understand how minorities feel and are treated, it will be impossible not to hear the cries of our brothers and sisters of color and make a noticeable change.

Garrhett Hurst is a sophomore in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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