Honor Thy Country

1 Oct 2017 Karina S. Henkel

Honestly, I couldn’t care less about whether NFL players are standing or kneeling when the national anthem plays. My very first thought was, long before I had some discussions about that with my husband and several colleagues and friends, that kneeling is a very respectful gesture. I thought it interesting that kneeling was meant as a symbol of protest. I would have never connected that kind of gesture with protest before.

Then Donald Trump had something to say about it and said he wanted NFL players to be fired because of their lack of respect of their country. I was aghast. How could anybody see the player’s behavior as offensive?  And I thought at first that this is just another Trump-thing – his way of getting attention with the some strange behavior.

But it turned out that many people I know actually agree with him about this - people who usually never agree with anything Trump says. My colleague Jenny is appalled about what a bad role model these NFL players are when they are not respecting their country. For her, not standing with their hand on their chests means that the players are spitting on every veteran who died for this country. Andrew, my husband, has similar thoughts – maybe not as radical. But he is actually considering leaving his beloved Patriots as a fan because of their misbehavior.

NFL players are entertainers and are supposed to entertain. Even people who don’t really care about standing or kneeling think that entertainers should abstain from political statements when they are “on the job.” But there are, of course also people, even veterans, for whom it is more important that even NFL players have the right to publicly make political statements.

As usual, if I ask, I will always find all shades of opinions about a topic. There is never only one American voice. The American voice is always made of millions of different voices.