OPINION: Kneeling during the National Anthem is as American as it gets

Darren Haynes gives his take on #TakeTheKnee protests.

WASHINGTON (WUSA) - On Sunday we saw solidarity in the NFL at a level in professional sports we rarely see, as NFL teams bonded together in response to the criticism levied on the league by President Donald Trump.

This on the heels of comments made by the President on Friday, that owners should fire players who kneel during the National Anthem.

Supporters of the President said kneeling during the National Anthem was grounds for treason, and un-American.

Here's the problem, treason is defined as the crime of betraying one's country. What took place on Sunday across the NFL, was not a betrayal of one's country. It was players exercising their First Amendment right to protest injustices in America.

And that's just the thing, for those who call those acts un-American, to protest injustices is as American as it gets. The beauty of this country is that we are allowed to disagree, not just with ourselves, but with our government. That fundamental right is what makes America great.

President Trump campaigned on the slogan "Make America Great Again." And sure, what makes America great is extremely subjective. There are aspects where we could have a better standing in the world than we already do. But we are so fortunate to live in a country where we are allowed to hold different opinions.

Sure, I might think that people should stand for the National Anthem, while many NFL players might think they should kneel. And you know what, that's okay. Standing during the National Anthem does not make someone a better American than someone who kneels, just as kneeling doesn't make someone a worse American than someone who stands.

People, including the President, were calling on teams to "fire" those players who did not stand for the Anthem. 

Now while owners can release players for any reason, including not standing during the National Anthem (first amendment rights do not protect you from being fired from your job), I'm guessing that won't happen based on the various statements released by NFL owners.

Redskins tight end Vernon Davis had advice for President Trump, that the President would be wise to take.

"There's some problems going on," says Davis. "There's some issues. Let's address them... Instead of talking down on people, you're there in a position to help people."

Maybe if the President would be willing to listen to those who oppose him, instead of treating them as enemies of the state, we could finally start bridging the divide in our country.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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