The controversy over National Football League athletes’ “taking a knee” during the National Anthem, in protest against police killings of African Americans, is taking many forms. Part of it is the often used contradiction: “people fought and died for your right to free speech” followed by criticism of people who exercise that right. Far from disrespecting those American heroes, the athletes are paying their sacrifice the ultimate tribute by exercising that hard-won freedom.
Donald Trump’s finger is pointed at the NFL in order to direct our attention away from him. If anyone is disrespecting those heroes’ sacrifice, it is the man who – from day one of his occupation of the oval office – sought to suppress the spread of information and the exercise of free speech.
His campaign against the Media – calling it “fake news” – and limiting access to the White House and to members of his administration is an obvious campaign to limit the spread of information. And his frequent calls for limiting the expression of dissent – “get them out of here” at his rallies; offering to pay the legal expenses of anyone who assaults dissenters; applauding state laws allowing people to run over protesters; and assigning blame for violence in Charlottesville, S.C. to those protesting a white supremacist rally – display a distinctly fascist bent.
And as for disrespecting our country, its flag and its anthem, protesters pay homage to our nation by appealing to its government and its people for justice. Could they have picked another way to do it? Yes, they could and they did and it got no response. Our racist-in-chief called for more oppressive policing and his Department of Justice contradicted the mission expressed in its own name by declaring that it would not pursue claims of civil rights violations by law enforcement. And he reinstated issuing of military surplus equipment to police departments.
Our military heroes did not die in order to allow a Fake President to lead our country into the very fascist form of government that they fought against in World War II. Protest not only honors them, it is vital to preserving the freedoms for which they made their sacrifice.
- Adele E. Zimmermann, Embudo