Widgets Magazine

OPINIONS

Sit down for what’s right

“Get that son of a bitch off the field,” lambasted President Trump, urging NFL owners to fire players who knelt during the national anthem.

“The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race,” he continued on Twitter.

Careful, Mr. President, your ignorance is showing.

Colin Kaepernick started the anthem protest over a year ago, and since then several NFL teams, WNBA teams, MBA players, high school football teams, volleyball teams, cheerleading squads, marching bands, national team soccer players and singers have joined Kaepernick in kneeling, sitting, linking arms or raising their fists in solidarity during the national anthem.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said on NFL Media. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”

“We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms. We remain committed in continuing to work towards equality and justice for all,” tweeted the Seattle Seahawks.

“I’m not against the police. I’m not against the military. I’m not against America. I’m against social injustice,” said Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall on The MMQB, an NFL podcast.

Despite the clarity of these athletes’, or rather activists’, moral motivation, Trump’s (over)reaction is not shocking. Protests challenging white Americans to recognize systemic police brutality and racial inequality have often and historically been met with belligerence and misunderstanding.

“People didn’t approve of the way my father protested injustice either; said he was causing trouble, called him an ‘outside agitator,’” tweeted Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.

While Trump insists that kneeling is “a total disrespect for everything we stand for” and most recently urged his supporters to sign a petition to mandate standing for the national anthem, he fails to recognize that dissent is actually a time-honored form of American patriotism.

“In fact, if patriotism means being true to the principles for which your country is supposed to stand, then certainly, the right to dissent is one of those principles,” said American historian Howard Zinn in an interview.

And yet, when I went to see Stanford’s women’s soccer team play the University of Washington, not a single Stanford player knelt during the anthem. Only Washington had the conviction of solidarity to kneel. And again, at Stanford’s home football games, no one knelt. And again, at the swim meet last Friday, and the volleyball game, and the men’s soccer game on Tuesday. Curious. No one moved to protest inequality? No dissenters in the crowd? Considering the Stanford Board of Trustees’ recent refusal to divest from the private prison industry, which profits from policies that disproportionately incarcerate the poor and people of color, you would think there would be more protests, not fewer.

It’s true. It is not easy to stand up for what is right. To be subject to criticism and misunderstanding. To hear you are acting against American values when all you’re trying to do is make America act on its values. To be “that son of a bitch” on the field. But that does not mean we should not try. A platform is a horrible thing to waste, solidarity even more so.

Catch me at the next Stanford football game — I’ll be the patriotic son of a bitch kneeling.

 

Contact Siena Fay at sienafay@stanford.edu.

  • IMBACK

    let me guess… you’re an upset Hillary voter.

    grow up

  • Geoff Browning

    Right on, Siena. Thank you for this well-written message and reminder that we should use our privilege to speak out against discrimination and injustice.

  • nth

    Statistics do not back up the claim that police brutality occurs along racial lines FYI