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Regarding ‘Kneeling during the National Anthem’

To the Editor:

Responses to the “Star-Spangled Banner” protests like Mr. McCann’s [Mid Rivers Newsmagazine, Oct. 5] make my head hurt.

He says he’s “fine” with protest and demonstration, unless, of course, you’re benefiting from “free public education” [and, I would presume, other public services such as transportation, Social Security, police and fire protection, etc.], make lots of money or live in a country “protected by men and women risking their lives to insure [sic] our freedoms.”

So, really, everyone falls into one of those categories, even if you live in the backwoods in Montana and have just chanced upon this newsmagazine. But let’s extrapolate his logic back in time.

In the ‘50s and ‘60s, people shouldn’t have gotten involved with the Civil Rights Movement because everyone likely used public education, taxpayer-funded roads or public transportation at some point in time [Rosa Parks, anyone?], and the military had just defeated fascism in Europe and Asia, and was fighting communism at home and abroad.

Southern states shouldn’t have seceded – a pretty bold protest of the federal government and its direction, if you ask me – over slavery, or “states’ rights,” if you still believe that revisionist lie.

Go all the way back to 1776 and you’ll find white people in this land who were dissatisfied with their government, despite the fact that they’d been provided with all sorts of public amenities and were, of course, protected from the French and Native Americans by the greatest military of its day. Should they not have seceded … er … revolted?

Logical fallacies aside, Mr. McCann himself provided an example as to precisely why those millionaire athletes [and college and high school student-athletes, of course] protest: “We also have a proud heritage that is represented by both the flag and our National Anthem.” Unintentionally, Mr. McCann pointed out our common heritage of slavery – you’ve undoubtedly heard how Francis Scott Key was, himself, a slave owner and ironically penned the line “land of the free.” Then, there’s that blatant line from the anthem’s third verse: “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.” That we should be proud of those things or honoring the man who wrote those lines is exactly what’s being called in to question by anthem protesters.

It also is disingenuous to suggest that protesters have problems with every aspect of American life, as Mr. McCann does in the last paragraph, where he suggests we should take time to thank those who serve the public on a daily basis instead. To be sure, we should be extremely grateful for people in lines of work that benefit the greater good and for a living help others every day. But kneeling for the anthem should not be viewed as a knock on those people.

It’s possible to be thankful for some people and simultaneously critical of policies and actions by others – some of whom may even work in the same field.

Colin Kaepernick and others have been incredibly forthcoming with their exact reasons for protesting during the anthem and nowhere do they mention dissatisfaction with every aspect of American life. Instead, it’s about highlighting the fact that, regardless of whether you believe it’s because blacks are an inferior race and are inherently more violent, or because they’re policed at a higher rate than whites as a means of subjugation and oppression, police have killed and continue to kill blacks at a higher rate than they do whites.

I will credit Mr. McCann for not falling in to the trap of using the red herring argument that generally attacks the patriotism of the opponent and instructs them to depart the nation forthwith [or its even more racist variety that instructs the same people to return to the continent that their people were stolen from 200 to 400 years ago]. You know, the “Love it or leave it,” “If you don’t like America, you can get out,” “Go back to Africa” crowd. That notion – that people who find faults with this country should leave – is bizarre and, at least, a little bit racist, especially given that we now have a white presidential candidate whose entire campaign [and, indeed, its slogan] is premised upon the notion that there are at least a few parts of America, as well as its sum, that are no longer great.

Ryan Madden

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