A football player has the right to kneel before the flag. That said, the NFL and its team owners reserve the right to fire a player for “bringing disrepute to the team”. This is no different than if your employer were to fire you for coming in late to work. Lateness is not illegal, but within your employee contract, your employer almost certainly retains the right to terminate your employment for cause. Beyond the NFL and the team owners, a private citizen and consumer of NFL sportage/goods has the right to counter-protest by not consuming.
Trump is calling for the same things many private citizens are calling for – which are within the rights of the team owners. So, why is he wrong?
The difference between the average America-loving Joe and the president is that the president is the leader and mouthpiece of the US of freaking A, and his job and employment contract comes with the understanding that he has to execute and defend the rights guaranteed in the Constitution. Everything he does, he does as the President of the United States. He no longer has the luxury of advocating for things as a private citizen. His job is to uphold and fully defend people’s rights, no matter what they say, because they are Americans. It is not his prerogative to punish and demand retribution as the President, because it directly undermines the rights he was elected to protect. To do so is “deplorable.”
In fact, his actions set a negative precedent for conservative thought on campuses like ours. He is endorsing the idea that “if you do/say something that I disagree with, I am going to first of all, not listen, and second make it so difficult or detrimental to someone’s life that they have to stop”. Our president’s, and our party’s, moral authority in criticizing the intolerant liberals found on campuses like UC Berkeley has been compromised. The President has effectively copied and pasted their errs onto his own platform.
I don’t care why you do or don’t kneel, and I don’t care if you like Donald Trump. Mostly, I care that we stand behind an idea that has stood the test of time. Freedom of speech used to be something we could unify behind and be proud of as Americans. I care about the American people recognizing that Colin Kaepernick has as much right to kneel as Milo Yiannopoulos has to speak.
Having said all of that, I would argue that you should be standing for the anthem. Our soldiers go off to war and as in hundreds of thousands of instances, die for the rights and ideas that this country was founded on. This means that someone died for your right to disrespect the flag whether you were born black, brown, or white, male or female, gay or straight. To me, the flag and the anthem are unifying features of American society meant to bring us together, not tear us apart. So whenever I hear the anthem, I will be on my feet. Furthermore, I believe that taking a knee is not an effective way of combatting racism. Call a representative, raise money, donate, volunteer.
That said, “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”. If Donald Trump loves this country, if he truly wants to “make it great again” then – first and foremost – he should blindly and wholly defend the ideas on which this country was built.