Let me remind football fans, that their game day traditions are not religious rituals. The National Anthem does not carry the same significance as a crucifix, Quran, or menorah. Choosing to honor your country at the beginning of your sports entertainment is perhaps a commendable choice but nonetheless arbitrary.
No area of life is exempt from the freedoms engendered in the Bill of Rights. Protest and dissent are fundamental to the health of our government. It ensures our representation as citizens and expresses our values transversely to other members of the society.
No person is under the obligation to stand, gesture, or poise themselves a certain way to have their protest taken seriously. Kneeling during the National Anthem is a way to transmit a sentiment in a highly public manner. The kneelers are no less citizens for acting this way. In fact, their exercise of their rights to free speech, protest, and dissent are the very first amendment to America’s most important document.
Furthermore, the absurd suggestion that service members have ownership rights over an arbitrary starting ritual to a sports game belies an expression of one of America’s most heinous hobbies: the glorification of war. Why should service members be offended at the expression of the rights they say they fought for? I say, again, that it is absurd.
As citizens it would be healthy to engage in actual discourse, instead of censoring the manner in which our opponents are able to express their ideas. The day that Republicans would like to stand still during a Beyonce song as an act of protest for state’s rights, I will welcome it. I ask the same courtesy of them.