An unprecedented number of NFL players kneeled or otherwise protested during pre-game national anthems this Sunday after Donald Trump invested his weekend feuding with the league over the peaceful act.
The hashtag # TakeAKnee( and a variant, #TakeTheKnee) trended on Twitter all day Saturday and Sunday as players and some team proprietors and front offices eluded the president’s echoed assaults with public the declarations and on-field proves of solidarity.
And despite players’ repeated explanations of the intent behind their decision to kneel or raise a fist, it seems there’s still a lot of( sometimes willful) misunderstanding about why they’re doing so.
Ever since former 49 ers quarterback Colin Kapernick started his demonstration last September, he’s been clear about the fact that there’s no intention to disrespect the military, the country’s bedrock values, or any of the other patriotic ideals commonly raised by his critics.
Rather, the protest is simply to call attention to the ongoing difficulty of disproportionate police violence against non-white people in America and the lack of consequences for its perpetrators, Kaepernick has said.
In fact, he actually opted to kneel rather than sit last year after former NFL player and Army Green Beret Nate Boyer proposed it might demonstrate more venerate to soldiers and veterans.
“Once again, I’m not anti-American, ” Kaepernick said at the time. “I love America. I love people. That’s why I’m doing this. I want to help attain America better. I reckon having these conversations helps everybody have a better understanding of where everybody is coming from.”
Kaepernick is now a free agent, but the free movement of persons he started as a 49 ers is now stronger than ever. The dozens of players who’ve joined ought to have similarly explicit about their reasoning.
For instance, Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell, who became the first MLB player to take a knee during the anthem on Saturday, said his gesture was not “ve been meaning to” detract from the significance of his own father’s army service.
“I know I was on the fence for a long time because I know no one in baseball has in the past done it, ” Maxwell said in a post-game press conference. “I finally got to the point where I supposed the inequality of boy is being discussed, and it’s being practised from our president.”
The severity of the real trouble driving the protests was underscored earlier this season when Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett was seemingly arbitrarily apprehended in what he claimed was an instance of racial profiling and excess use of force.
“The system failed me. I can only imagine what Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Charleena Lyles seemed, ” he wrote in a statement released on the incident.
Despite appeals like that, Trump has never mentioned the questions at the center of the movement, and he continues to openly call it a protest against America itself.
If NFL fans refuse to go to plays until musicians stop disrespecting our Flag& Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!
— Donald J. Trump (@ realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
Yet the newfound willingness of NFL owners to make at least conciliatory statements in defense of their players’ right to free expression signals there may eventually be more acceptance of the content of the demonstrations rather than the method.