President Donald Trump’s pushback against the NFL’s #TakeAKnee movement has trickled down to like-minded individuals across the country, spurring debates and inciting fans to burn their jerseys in defiance of the movement.
One Louisiana principal even went so far as to ban his students from participating in the symbolic gesture, requiring students to “stand in a respectful manner throughout the National Anthem during any sporting event in which their team is participating.”
Shaun King tweeted a photo of the letter the principal sent out to the families of student athletes.
And it has begun.— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) September 28, 2017
High schools are now following Trump’s order.
Will kick off any players who don’t stand during the National Anthem. pic.twitter.com/lfNWyW7z5f
In it, Waylon Bates, principal at Parkway High School in Louisiana, states that if students fail to comply with the standards set during the national anthem they will not only lose playing time, but may be booted from the team itself.
Not only is this a direct violation of the First Amendment, the principal felt the need to clarify that the high school “is committed to creating a positive environment for sporting events that is free of disruption to the athletic contest or game.”
Make no mistake; the priority in these actions is not to ensure a peaceful athletic contest, but it is an attempt to silence a civil rights protest. By taking a knee during the national anthem, students are expressing their social and political opinions in a non-violent manner. The act has nothing to do with the actual athletic pursuits of the game, and it harms no one.
At a time when liberals are attacked for being soft “snowflakes,” those who oppose #TakeAKnee need to ask themselves one question: Who does it hurt when these players protest the national anthem?
The national anthem itself is simply a song of patriotism; it is not a contract or test of American pride.
The Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law noticed the incident and took action against the high school, proving that the Parkway High principal doesn’t understand this country’s freedoms as much as he may think.
“The threats outline in letter are concerning as they are a direct violation of the constitutional rights of the students of Parkway High School,” a letter to the Superintendent of the school from the Lawyer’s Committee wrote. “The Supreme Court of the United States has consistently protected the First Amendment rights of public school students noting that “[i]t can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
The backlash against these protests is a confusing one that conflates the protest with an attack on the United States’ idealism, when in reality, these actions are representative of the individual freedoms in which the country is founded upon.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake