Are You Angry That Athletes Are Kneeling During the National Anthem, Or That It's Working?

Are You Angry That Athletes Are Kneeling During the National Anthem, Or That It’s Working?

Most of the People Whining About National Anthem Kneeling Aren’t As Respectful As They Make Themselves Out To Be

Earlier this week, I saw a Facebook friend ranting in a lengthy post about how much he hates people kneeling during our National Anthem. And his arguments will be pretty familiar to you. Everyone has at least one or two friends posting this same sort of stuff on social media, it seems.

Those athletes are millionaires, so what do they know of injustice? It’s so disrespectful to our military and our nation! Sports are supposed to be entertaining, not political! Can’t they do this off the field? They aren’t even making a difference!

Now, we’ve all seen these posts a lot since Colin Kaepernick first took a knee last year during the National Anthem. Even today, I saw at least a dozen posts on Facebook and Twitter about these National Anthem protests and their spreading through the sports world. But this particular post was especially ridiculous for one reason: the person making it used to joke quite frequently that the National Anthem was the best time to use the bathroom.

Related: WTF? Donald Trump, the Lowest Rated President Ever, Just Attacked NFL Players Over Ratings.

The National Anthem is “perfectly timed,” he would claim, to go number-one. And as teenagers, he joked one year that Cher singing the National Anthem was special in that he could hear her from the bathroom, “so it was like we were doing a duet.”

Yeah. He said that. He said that frequently and he said that loudly, despite that joke never really landing.

But somehow, Colin Kaepernick and other athletes taking a knee during games is less respectful to him than using the National Anthem as a scheduling aid for bathroom use? Huh?

And that’s why the National Anthem kneeling debate is a spectacularly silly one. The people whining about these protests aren’t nearly as patriotic as they like to tell others (or themselves) they are.

Are You Angry About Athletes ‘Interrupting’ the National Anthem? Or Are You Angry Their Protests Are Actually Working?

Like practically everything else in contemporary America, these protests are drawing ire along sharp partisan lines. And the people doing the complaining? They’re not really angry for the reasons they’re claiming to be angry.

The same people whining about the sanctity of our National Anthem couldn’t care less about said anthem when they’re at home, or in a bar, or even when they’re in the stadium watching the games in person. They’ll use the bathroom, or go get snacks, or gab on the phone or text with friends about the game they’re about to watch. They’ll browse Facebook or play Candy Crush on their phone… they’ll do everything except participate in the anthem.

Related: WTF? Pence Says Players Should Give Up Free Speech Because N in NFL Stands for ‘National’

Of course, many in the stadium do in fact sing along — most of them remaining seated. But how many do this at home? I’ve never sung along while I was alone, or even with a big group of friends or family. Have you? Do you actually lift yourself off the couch, brush the little morsels of potato chip from your shirt, put your hand over your heart, and sing along?

No, you don’t. And everyone who is saying “yuh-huh, I do every time!” is either lying, or desperately needs to get out of the house more often.

These athletes aren’t kneeling with the intention of disrespecting the United States. They’re not trying to insult anyone or the sacrifices people have made for our freedom. They’re protesting the painfully widespread police brutality in this country… brutality that disproportionately affects people of color. And they’re accomplishing this peacefully in a way that best capitalizes on their status as celebrities.

Related: Trump’s America: Fire Chief Calls NFL Coach a “No Good N*gger” After Protest

All of those aforementioned arguments — it’s disrespectful, it’s pointless, it’s wrong to inject politics into sports — all of that is moot. Colin Kaepernick and his fellow athletes have sparked a national debate that revolves around the subject of police brutality, whether you want to discuss that subject or not. And Donald Trump is taking time out of his day to bitch about it, so I think we can safely say the message is getting out there.

Donald Trump Doesn’t Get to Lecture Anyone On Free Speech or the National Anthem

I’m well past the point of pretending Donald Trump “may or may not be” a racist. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. And Donald Trump? He’s one ugly, childish, ignorant, racist duck.

After Trump openly endorsed white supremacy earlier this year, I think it’s safe to say there’s nothing he can do at this point that surprises me. And I’m no longer shocked or mortified when he takes up stances that white supremacists would find agreeable, either. Trump has already crossed that Rubicon, and there’s no going back for him. He’s a racist. End of debate.

Donald Trump doesn’t give one one-hundredth of a single fuck about the National Anthem, or “respecting the flag,” or patriotism in any of its literal or abstract forms. Trump may not be the sharpest pencil in the desk, but the message of these sports world protests isn’t lost on him completely. That message? That’s what Trump is actually complaining about. And it’s not lost on his supporters, either.

This is the nefarious “All Lives Matter” crowd. They’re the people who openly defended George Zimmerman and his ilk. Whenever an unarmed black person is murdered by police, these are the people who dig through the victim’s past for any little nugget of dirt they can find, latching past offenses onto them in a blatantly bigoted effort to justify the death sentence an officer otherwise wrongly handed down to them.

Kneeling During the National Anthem Is Patriotism In Motion

The message of these National Anthem kneeling protests is getting muddled a bit, but it’s getting through to people all the same. Black people are disproportionately the victims of police violence. Black lives are being treated by society as if they hold less value than white lives. This violence is real and it’s happening frequently. It’s tragic, and it’s disgusting, and this isn’t the best version of America that we should live in.

Trump and his bigoted white supremacist base don’t want that message being spread around. They disagree with it on fiercely ideological lines. Every time an athlete takes a knee, this country is reminded of this issue. An issue that shouldn’t be a debate in the twenty-first century, but inexplicably is.

Related: NASCAR Hero Dale Earnhardt Jr Slams Head-on into Trump’s Attack On 1st Amendment

Free speech means you get to peacefully protest. It means you can take a knee during the National Anthem, or go use the bathroom, or play a round of Candy Crush. That the United States isn’t a country that forces people at gunpoint to participate in patriotic platitudes is something we should all take a moment to celebrate.

Kneeling during the National Anthem shouldn’t be seen as offensive. The act of lawfully and peacefully exercising our constitutionally-afforded rights as American citizens shouldn’t be viewed as “Anti-American” or “disrespectful” by anyone. It’s a beautiful act, really. One that ensures the sacrifices people have made for this country weren’t in vain. And apart from those sacrifices themselves, I defy you to name something more patriotic than that.

Featured image courtesy of Christian Petersen/ Getty Images

Matt Terzi is a political satirist and essayist from Binghamton, New York, who has written for some of the most prominent satire publications in the country. He's now moving into more "serious" subject matter, without losing touch with his comedic roots