ISSUE | NATIONAL ANTHEM
A fitting protest
Reaction to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to sit for the national anthem before NFL preseason games in protest of institutional racism in America has been largely negative and very misplaced ("Sitting at attention," Monday).
America has a tradition of sports figures protesting unjust and unfair practices. Kaepernick's actions were in the spirit of sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who raised their fists during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Summer Olympics to protest the mistreatment of African Americans. While that protest was nearly 50 years ago, that issue continues to plague us.
Most troubling about the reaction to Kaepernick's protest has been the insinuation that it was disrespectful to veterans and members of the U.S. military. As an Air Force veteran, I find such a notion misguided. When you enter the military, you are required to swear an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States." Supporting the Constitution is not always easy and sometimes requires us to advocate for the rights of those we find repugnant. That is what defines us - allowing our fellow Americans to speak loudly and freely even when what they say is objectionable.
Writer Charles F. Browne once said, "We can't all be Washingtons, but we can all be patriots." Being a patriot doesn't require us to stand and sing the national anthem - sometimes it requires us to sit down or raise a fist.
|Chris Corsi, Marlton
'A sign of disrespect'
Not standing for the American flag and national anthem is a sign of disrespect to all of us. We are a nation of the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you don't like one of those groups, direct your anger at one of them, not all of us. I served under the flag on two occasions, and I consider disrespect of the flag an insult directed at me. Find another way to voice your problems about behavior you don't condone without disrespecting all of us.
|Joe Orenstein, Southampton, firstname.lastname@example.org
I always stand and pledge allegiance to the American flag because it's my country. My parents, and their parents, and their parents, and their parents built this nation in spite of being enslaved, lynched, and treated as third-class citizens. They endured all of the horrors of America to ensure that I and future generations wouldn't have to endure such indignities.
Colin Kaepernick is speaking out about the injustices that people of color are still enduring in America. I respect him for that.
|Anthony Johnson, Philadelphia, email@example.com
Don't criticize U.S.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick's constitutionally protected right to publicly protest his perception of racial injustice in this country doesn't automatically bestow wisdom on his statements. Aside from the irony of a biracial man who makes $19 million a year playing a game pontificating about oppression of people of color, his statements indicting the nation for oppression simply belies the facts.
The country he so vehemently criticized had been led by an African American president for nearly eight years. The Department of Justice is headed by Loretta Lynch, an African American woman, and before her, by Eric Holder, an African American man.
If Kaepernick has specific issues he wishes to protest, such as the police treatment of minorities, he should address them directly. But saying the nation as a whole has a conscious policy of oppression opens his actions to ridicule.
|Christopher Knob, Media, firstname.lastname@example.org
When the Flyers enlisted Kate Smith
Not standing for the national anthem, as Colin Kaepernick has done in protest of some police treatment of minorities, is upsetting and insulting to many. But the "Star-Spangled Banner" is ignored by many sports fans in the stands as routine.
What some would consider rude and disrespectful behavior was especially widespread in the 1960s, during a time of racial unrest and bitterness over the Vietnam War.
As then-vice president of the Philadelphia Flyers, I was bothered by this lack of respect at hockey games and decided, on Dec. 11, 1969, to see what would happen if we didn't play the anthem. I had Kate Smith's "God Bless America" played instead.
That got the fans' attention. Many cheered, some booed, but they got involved. The crowd was energized; so was the home team.
The Flyers, winners of only 17 of 76 games that year, hit, fought, and won a thrilling game - and the Kate Smith-Flyers legend was born. More importantly, from that day on, the fans paid attention to the pregame song.
Sometimes, you need to have something taken away to realize what you have.
|Lou Scheinfeld, Villanova
It's better than reverting to violence
As a World War II veteran, I always stand and uncover my head or place my hand over my heart when I hear the national anthem. I also have said facetiously that the last line of the anthem is, "Play ball."
If Colin Kaepernick wishes to protest a perceived injustice by calling attention to it by sitting when the anthem is played, more power to him. This type of protest is certainly more appropriate than rioting, looting, or turning over cars and setting them on fire. I applaud Kaeepernick for taking what he knew would be an unpopular action to promote what he believes is injustice.
|Ralph D. Bloch, Rydal, email@example.com
It's our civic duty to take a stand
I fully support Colin Kaepernick's right to sit during the national anthem, and I hope that many who support his views will do likewise in the stands. Too often, patriotism has meant, "My country, right or wrong." That should not be the case.
The Declaration of Independence calls on us to take a stand against our government when it becomes a government of oppression, thwarting the rights of its citizens. There are too many instances of wrongs committed by government officials against minorities, especially young black men. It is our duty, and Kaepernick's, to take a stand by not standing, to enlighten our leaders about the injustices their actions have caused.
The patriotism lobby is off course when it deems such action as unworthy of its support.
|Gloria Finkle, Philadelphia, firstname.lastname@example.org
Take a walk in police officer's shoes
Aside from Colin Kaepernick yakking about America's flaws and disrespecting our national anthem - which is his right - what hs he done to address the problems he says he is so concerned about? Has he volunteered at a soup kitchen, spent time at an inner-city Boys or Girls Club or asked to go on a ride-along with the police to experience the real-life problems they face? He does about as much armchair quarterbacking as his fans - if he still has any.
Why doesn't Kaepernick leave this country and find one that is problem free. When he finds one, he can let us know about it - and stay there.
There are men and women who cannot stand for our national anthem because of injuries they suffered while serving this great county.
|William D. Markert Jr., Philadelphia