Patriotic revival endangers free speech

Photo by Michael Zagaris via
Photo by Michael Zagaris via

Old debate becomes prominent again

By Braeden Mandrusiak, Contributor


So far, the 21st century has been both beneficial and deprecating for the United States. However, in particular, the issue of whether an individual should kneel while the “Star-Spangled Banner” is being played or stand and sing like a proud patriot is forcing the country into a downward spiral.

The war against American patriotism started in 1968 when Tommie Smith and John Carlos of the United States Olympic Team gave the Black Panther salute during the procession of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” They were immediately suspended from the competition, but they were only showing their disapproval toward a racially intolerant country.

In 1996, Denver Nuggets’ player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf of the National Basketball Association chose to boycott the “Star-Spangled Banner” because of American nationalism. He faced heavy backlash from the fans and the American populace. This included threats of death and having his house burned down. This all was done in spite of the First Amendment of the United States, which was designed to protect the people of the country from repercussions involving actions surrounding freedom of expression.

The spotlight is now on then-San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick of the National Football League who made several protests during the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” in the 2016-2017 season by sitting and kneeling during the playing of the anthem. Although Kaepernick took a knee to protest police violence and racial intolerance in the United States, President Donald Trump decided to weigh in on the debate by asking for the people of the country to “just pick up and leave” the stadium when they see a player-protest occurring.

The tweet from Trump was met by backlash from National Football League players, owners, and fans. The reaction is a much-needed refresher against the unnecessary crusade by Trump, as the players who are committing these protests are not any more “un-American” compared to their anthem-singing counterparts.

The effects of this outrageous debacle will be long-lasting. A unified force of National Football League players knelt in unison to depose of the hatred and bigotry forwarded by Trump. The National Football League has criticized the tirade made by Trump against the organization and even the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is “appalled” by the comments made by the President. However, there is no simple fix to the problem.

One possible solution would be for Trump to stop tweeting, but he isn’t going to stop that anytime soon. Another possible solution could be to let the players of the National Football League kneel if the situation warrants, as the freedoms that built the United States into a country are the gateways to equality.