The issue that President Donald Trump and other conservatives continue to raise regarding athletes kneeling for the national anthem is that the act is unpatriotic and disrespects the United States military.
However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
As Bob Costas pointed out during a segment on CNN Monday morning, patriotism comes in various forms and is not restricted to represent only those who have served in the military.
“Patriotism comes in many forms, and what has happened is that it’s been conflated with kind of a bumper sticker kind of flag waving and with the military only so that people cannot see that in his own way — Colin Kaepernick — however imperfectly, is doing a patriotic thing, and so too are some of these other players.”
Bob Costas NAILED this. Patriotism comes in many forms, but it's been conflated w/ bumper sticker flag waving & "military only." ?? pic.twitter.com/2R5z00btfU— Josh Sánchez (@jnsanchez) September 25, 2017
All eyes were on the NFL this weekend after Trump suggested that team owners should fire players who refuse to stand during the anthem.
While the national anthem protests in sports have been an ongoing debate, this was the first time Trump has made such a bold and egregious attack against the athletes for exercising their constitutional rights.
In reality, taking a knee is the most patriotic thing you can do.
During another period, we knelt. There is nothing wrong with kneeling down to stand up against injustice. It’s protected by the Constitution pic.twitter.com/HgxqkOsqPU— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) September 25, 2017
As Costas and the official Twitter account of the American Civil Liberties Union noted, respectively, dissenters are also patriots.
The national anthem and American flag are symbols that are interpreted differently by different people.
For example, white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan are all represented by these symbols as well, but the values these groups uphold indicate that the words “all men are created equal” stated in our Declaration of Independence mean something entirely different to them than to Kaepernick and many other Americans.
Essentially, the athletes who are kneeling during the national anthem are protesting to defend those very words amid the threat of police brutality claiming too many innocent African-American lives at alarming rates.
As The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf aptly put it, “A patriot is no more disqualified by kneeling before that flag than one is made by merely standing before it. What matters are the values behind the gestures.”
It is abundantly clear that the anthem protest is in no way meant as a slap in the face to the military or the flag, but rather meant to draw attention to the fact that the values that “The Star-Spangled Banner” and U.S. flag are meant to symbolize are not being equally applied to all Americans.
It should also be noted that the military fights to protect the very rights that these athletes are exercising, hence why many military service members and law enforcement officials have shown solidarity with Kaepernick and the other players who have chosen to kneel until the words "all men are created equal" truly pertain to all Americans.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: Reuters, Paul Childs