"Taking a knee" is a sign of Respect
I have been reading recent posts depicting professional NFL (National Football League) athletes who go down on one knee when the National Anthem is being played as doing it to protest the American flag and the military of the USA. This is a misunderstanding and it is bothering me. They are protesting neither the flag nor the military. They are protesting police brutality directed at black people in America today. Some are saying these athletes have no right to protest during their games. For an intelligent and impassioned response watch Trevor Noah’s piece, “When Is The Right Time for Black People to Protest”, posted September 29, 2017.
What does “taking a knee” mean? I admit to only recently learning of this practice myself. Last month I was watching my ten-year-old grandson play soccer when I noticed boys on both teams pause in mid-game and go down on one knee. I asked my son-in-law, “What is happening?” He responded, “They are kneeling in respect for an injured player”. I looked down the field and saw a boy lying on his back, clutching his leg and wincing in pain. The coach rushed to the boy, scooped him up and carried him carefully off the field. All while the boys stayed on their knees. One minute two teams were in tense competition, the next, every player was down on one knee to honor an injured person. I was so touched that I shed a tear.
So these athletes, amateur as well as professional soccer and football players, are trained to go down on one knee to honor the injured. The NFL players are protesting the injury in America of the social crime of police brutality based on racism. It is not anti-military. Just this week an Air Force general delivered a powerful speech against racism, telling those cadets who scrawled racist epithets on the doors of black cadets, “to get out”, as diversity is the backbone of the military and there is no place for racism in the Air Force.
Kneeling is a sign of respect. My father still kneeled in church well into his nineties. A suitor will go down on one knee to propose marriage. Athletes pause to honor a hurt comrade. In the NFL case, kneeling is not a sign of disrespect for our flag, or for our country, but a brave first amendment expression to focus attention on the injury of racism in the United States of America.