Andrew Kelly


    One of the hottest social issues facing our society right now is the NFL National Anthem sit-downs that have occurred at football games nationwide. Spearheaded by players such as the San Francisco 49’ers, Colin Kaepernick, progressives and social activists argue that these protests represent a stand against a climate of hatred and brutality that black americans face on a day-to-day basis in America. However, conservatives and some centrist pundits argue that these attacks are disrespecting our country, and that these protests would better be suited to another time. The conservative point of view on this is idiotic and hypocritical.


    For starters, one of the most common conservative arguments used against Black Lives Matter protests outside of the football stadium is that instead of resorting to rioting, the Black Lives Matter movement should resort to peaceful, non-destructive methods of protesting. But isn’t kneeling at a football game in respect to the hundreds of black men and women who have been unjustly murdered by police the definition of a peaceful protest? I could understand the outrage on the right if the players who were kneeling were forcing other players who don’t want to kneel to do so; however, that could not be further from what is happening. You can’t tell someone to peacefully protest and then get mad when they do, just in a way you don’t agree with.


   Furthermore, the Conservative outrage over the anthem protests is pretty hypocritical. Conservatives often label themselves as the “defenders of free speech.” Conservative commentators cried a river when agitators of the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos were banned from speaking at universities nationwide, continue to defend Neo Nazi rallies as “protected speech,” and defend the right of right wing religious demagogues to call for the execution of all LGBT people. And yet, when football players–black and white–choose to peacefully kneel during the national anthem to pay respect to the hundreds of black americans who have been unjustly slaughtered by police, suddenly the whole “caring about free speech” thing seems to go out the window. I guess, in the Conservative mindset, free speech is something you only get if you’re white, straight, and Christian.


    The last infuriating part of the NFL protest backlash is the idea that, in some way, the protests are “disrespectful” to our troops. However, isn’t the entire point of having a standing army to defend against threats to our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness as defined in the constitution? And, if that is the case, wouldn’t firing these players, or even arresting them–as some have called for–be the metaphorical equivalent of spitting on the feet of the same freedoms our brave men and women in uniform have fought so hard to protect? You also have to note the irony when most of the people complaining about these protests supposedly “disrespecting the troops” when these same people have never served, or, in the case of our President, purposely tried to dodge the draft.


    The outrage on the fringe right over the NFL Anthem protests is completely unfounded, hypocritical, antithetical to the supposed conservative value of free speech for those who have unpopular opinions, and flies in the face of everything our brave servicemen and women have fought so hard to maintain. Simply put, you cannot claim to be in favor of peaceful protests when you become enraged at the sight of one, you cannot claim to be in favor of free speech if you get angry when people exercise their right to it, and you cannot claim to support our troops if you wish so feverently to bring crashing down everything they have put their lives on the line to maintain.


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