So, one of the hot topics today in our country, is the use of “Free Speech” which is guaranteed by our Constitution and First Amendment. Usually this revolves around some kind of protest or some action that certain groups are usually against. Recently we have seen this in protests involving racial equality and the mistreatment of minorities by law enforcement officials. Today, it is often said that we are a divided nation, yet when disaster struck in the form of hurricane Irma in Texas, Jose in Florida, and Maria in Puerto Rico, American’s came together to help one another. So, this begs the question, on what level are we divided and again, on what level are we united?
Let’s also keep in mind that our nation was founded upon a rebellion from a foreign nation that wanted to control the destiny of our citizens. So, controversy is a part of our national make up. For sure, even our founding fathers, were not always united in the cause to break from Great Britain. There continued to be disagreements during the revolution, with some remaining loyal to the Crown. In the end, we did come together as a people and formed a unity of states–a United States.
Today, the most recent controversy, comes from the NFL, with players and coaches “ taking a knee” during the singing of our national anthem. This lack of respect for our flag is to show that not all of us agree with what is happening in our nation today. Certainly, our country is still struggling with racial equality and treatment of minorities. Our history here has not been good. But I honestly don’t know from these protests exactly what they are pointing to and how we are to address these issues.
But our flag and the national anthem represent many different aspects of America, so much more, most of which are good. We are the land of opportunity, which is why so many immigrants want to come to our country. Our freedom’s have provided the wealth, which most of these NFL player protesters enjoy today—each and every one who “took a knee” are millionaires. And let’s not forget all the men and women, minorities included who have given the ultimate sacrifice for this country. Disrespecting the Flag and our anthem, disrespects those folks as well.
Finally, isn’t there some other way to raise a voice in protest rather than to disrespect our flag? Maybe the NFL could sponsor a dialogue prior to the games, which offers speakers the opportunity to make their case, and call attention to injustice. Or donate funds to inner city schools, or revitalize poor neighborhoods, or sponsor police education programs. I just think that much more constructive action could be taken that would help to heal and mend these wounds, than by protesting the singing of our national anthem, or our flag, symbols that represent us all.
Tim Doherty, Executive Director