Student defends the right of athletes to not observe patriotic acts

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What does it mean to be a patriot? In a general sense, patriotism signifies an affinity toward one’s nation, but there is way more to this definition than most people know or want to believe. Patriotism in America was established when our founding fathers laid the bedrock for democracy. In this sense, a patriot is one who is a defender of individual rights and values. American activist Cindy Sheehan put it best when she explained, “loyalty to the true, core values and roots of democracy is what makes a true patriot, not loyalty to a symbol of the country.” So, does being a patriot give us the excuse to slander those who we disagree with? Does it mean we can take away a person’s job because his opinions do not align with ours? In a modern sense, we are witnessing a fantastic display of courage and a manifestation of just causes that are continuously being shut down by our so-called patriots. In late August of last year, Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem in silent protest against the oppression of people of color as well as police brutality. Kaepernick backed up his stance stating, via NFL.com, “to me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Kaepernick is right, but unfortunately, not everyone is willing to listen. Writer Ambrose Bierce believed that “patriotism is as fierce as a fever, pitiless as the grave, blind as a stone, and irrational as a headless hen.” Combined with ignorance, patriotism can be truly dangerous. From the moment Kaepernick took to the benches during the Star Spangled Banner, (eventually he moved to taking a knee deeming it more respectful) he was instantly ostracized for his behavior. There were claims that Kaepernick’s actions during the anthem overshadowed his cause and thus led our adamant patriots to jump to conclusions about the movement. It is truly lamentable that some people would prefer to make their own opinions about the cause before even attempting to learn about the message behind it. With Donald Trump’s latest comments regarding the situation, calling for players who kneel to be “fired” while also mentioning, “I don’t think you can disrespect our country, our flag, our national anthem,” he is only affirming his inability to comprehend the campaign. Regardless of the heinous words being thrown around, people are talking. Whether they are for the movement Kaepernick has started or against it, people are paying attention. Very little progress has been made without initial opposition. I am a firm believer that with the continuing bravery of our athletes, along with our support, we can gain traction and make some progress in this world.

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