Looking for red flags

Cyrus Final, Staff Writer

October 27, 2017

  In response to NFL players kneeling for the Pledge of Allegiance, the country has been in an uproar.

    This raises the question: What constitutes the misuse of the American flag?

    As the American flag waved ceremoniously in the autumn air, accompanied by the chorus of voices emanating throughout the stadium, Colin Kaepernick kneeled. He kneeled for the pledge, uttered by thousands of spectators, declared determinedly by his teammates. Mr. Kaepernick started a frenzy of thoughts from the nation, with some calling his protest a “disgrace to the country,” labelling him as unpatriotic. However, others cited his motivation as a valid cause to dismiss the pledge. What constitutes the misuse of the American flag?

    What counts as disrespecting our country when it comes to the pledge? Who decides it?

    First of all, why did Kaepernick kneel? He has been on record in several different interviews, discussing his motivation. Ultimately, he believes that he cannot show pride in a country that oppresses African Americans and people of color. It is a statement against the treatment of people of color in the United States, and Kaepernick has the right to express this belief.

    The reaction to Kaepernick’s decision has been explosive. In the flurry of headlines, it is easy to forget his original goal when he kneeled back in 2016. In fact, many different football players have begun actively kneeling in order to show solidarity with Kaepernick; but has the original cause been diluted?

    It is a fair concern to wonder if the outpouring of Kaepernick support has erupted due to Trump’s vulgar declaration towards the kneeling football player. The act of kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance has been transformed from an issue of violence against specific ethnicities into defiance of Trump’s beliefs. It’s not surprising that Kaepernick’s initial message has been gradually diminished. Trump and many conservatives have actively spoken out against Kaepernick’s actions, labelling them as blatant disrespect to the nation as a whole. Is this truly disrespectful to the country and its values?

    In my opinion, no, it isn’t at all. Apparently, kneeling during the pledge, (which anyone as an American citizen has a genuine right to act upon), is truly reprehensible. It disrespects America, right? Constitutional values and all that? According to the actual U.S. code of respecting the flag, “The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise,” says the country. And yet, here we are, with American flag picnic blankets adorning the grass we lay it upon.

    How about dressing up in a costume with the American flag on it? Sorry, no. As the US Flag Code states, “No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.” This of course entails tracksuits, hats, masks, shirts, pants, and swimwear. So, that model on the cover of your magazine in an American flag themed bikini? That’s actually disrespecting the flag, according to the actual flag code of the country. Apparently, it’s okay to utilize the flag in all the ways listed above… but the second a person of color kneels because people of his ethnicity are being killed in the streets, it’s suddenly “disgusting” and “unpatriotic.”

    It’s hypocritical to say which action is disrespecting the flag and which isn’t; one can’t simply pick and choose. The message Kaepernick has been trying to express has been muddled by those trying to challenge Trump’s attacks on the NFL. People refuse to acknowledge what the actual misuse of the flag is, only accepting truths that further their “patriotic anger.”

     The flag will keep on waving, regardless of who stands and who kneels. How about we let our people choose which stance they take?

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