OPINION: New Meanings for Taking a Knee

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OPINION: New Meanings for Taking a Knee

By Lindsey Thomas, Men's Sports Editor

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Sunday was going to be a protest in full view for the American people, after President Donald Trump’s comment towards Stephen Curry and the “‘son of a bi**h’” NFL professionals, as he stated during a rally in Alabama on Friday. President Trump later expressed players had “chosen” to “disrespect.” However, the flag stands for freedom, including the freedom to protest inequality.

Trump’s statements only increased awareness and protest throughout the country. Among the many who displayed their coherent beliefs in the matter, NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell aired how proud he was of his players and coaches who displayed their freedom of speech in such a calm manner.  

This protest was nothing new, though. Roughly 13 months ago former quarterback for the 49ers, Colin Kaepernick, sat next to the Gatorade buckets on the bench and later knelt for the national anthem in protest for  police brutality. This invited loud disapproval at the time while also causing his fellow players to distance themselves from him and his protest, which they saw as “unpatriotic.”

Sunday was a climactic day. President Trump’s inflammatory remarks brought a loud, forthright voice to the argument of this quiet protest. This weekend, Kaepernick’s protest boiled over into other sports, like baseball. The rookie catcher for the Oakland A’s, Bruce Maxwell, knelt in the game against the Texas Rangers to demonstrate his alliance. The entire Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans football teams stayed in their designated locker rooms during the anthem, taking things further than other teams had in other protests that day. On Monday, the Dallas Cowboys knelt after the anthem with linked arms.

“This has nothing to do with race,” President Trump said in an interview with the New York Times, and later continued his argument on Wednesday, Sept. 27 saying the NFL must change or the business will go “straight to hell.” Although President Trump believes it is a must to stand for the anthem, players are not required to stand for the anthem, but rather encouraged to do so. President Trump has turned the silent protest for equal rights into a protest in affiliation with ”respect for our country and respect for our flag.” But he is wrong.  Kneeling is about free speech itself, and that is what the players are displaying to the public.

We don’t know what each man was thinking when they decided to kneel or lock arms. But when a vocal opponent of Kaepernick’s protest 13 months ago took the knee at Wembley, the political ramifications became clearer than ever.

Celebrities and virtually every person on Twitter have weighed in. In response to the protests, George Clooney wrote this poem:

“I pray for my country.

I pray that we can find more that unites us than divides us.

I pray that our nation’s leaders want to do the same.

I pray that young children like Tamir Rice can feel safe in their own neighborhood.

I pray for all of our children.

I pray for our police and our first responders.

I pray for our men and women of the armed services.

I pray that dissent will always be protected in this great country.

I pray for a more perfect union.

And when I pray, I kneel.”