Making America Unconstitutional Again

On Sept. 22, President Donald Trump attacked the First Amendment rights of NFL players who took a knee during the National Anthem.

President Trump gave a speech in Huntsville, Ala. to support the candidacy of Sen. Luther Strange. During his speech, Trump insulted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Sen. John McCain, and most controversially, the NFL.

When referring to players that do not stand during the National Anthem, Trump stated that NFL owners should say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!”

He then took to twitter, per usual, to further express his feelings. Speaking to players who don’t stand, he tweeted, “YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

The First Amendment of the Constitution grants freedom of speech, expression, religion, assembly and the right to petition.

The fact the president called out players for exercising their constitutional rights is outrageous and has sparked discussions across the nation. If Trump has not divided this country enough, he has done so again; those in favor of kneeling and those in favor of standing.

After President Trump made such remarks, NFL teams  across the nation took a knee to the anthem.

The problem is the reasoning behind it. When Colin Kaepernick, who is now a free agent, first took a knee, his protest was for police brutality and injustice towards black lives. The protest now has shifted from injustice to anti-Trump. Because of this shift, people are forgetting the original intent of the protest. Players from the Jaguars, Ravens, Broncos, Bills, Browns, Patriots, Eagles, Falcons, Giants and more all took a knee after Trump’s statements. But why are they just now deciding to protest? Why not protest when Kaepernick was on the field amidst black deaths at the hands of the police force?

 In August 2016, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started a silent protest during the National Anthem by sitting and kneeling to take a stand against police brutality and show support to the oppressed African Americans. His protest immediately gained wide-spread attention and some support with other NFL players. Photo: Chris Carlson AP 

In August 2016, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started a silent protest during the National Anthem by sitting and kneeling to take a stand against police brutality and show support to the oppressed African Americans. His protest immediately gained wide-spread attention and some support with other NFL players. Photo: Chris Carlson AP 

The main complaint of this protest is that it is disrespectful to the flag, this country and the military. In my opinion, it is the complete opposite. If anything, this form of protest is extremely patriotic and representative of the freedoms and liberties of this nation. The United States of America came to be an independent nation because colonists were tired of oppression and protested for their rights. The same principles are shown today. Colonists did not fight for a Bill of Rights and civil liberties for them not to be exercised today. And for these rights, the military works hard to make sure we can continue to have them.

It is no secret that Trump likes to take sides; condemning one while uplifting the other. Trump tweeted, “The booing at the NFL football game last night…was the loudest I have ever heard. Great anger”. But isn’t “booing” during the National Anthem disrespectful? Why didn’t Trump condemn the audience in Dallas? The simple answer is because he agreed with them; just how he agreed with protesters in Charlottesville, calling them “very fine people.”

But “booing” is not the only way America has disrespected the flag and the Anthem. We see signs of this disrespect every day. According to the Standards of Respect section of The Flag Code, the flag should not be used as drapery or decoration, it should never be used for advertising purposes, it should not be embroidered or printed on anything and it should not be used as a uniform or costume except for military persons. However, we see these uses of the flag all the time. Why are they not being called out when our constitutional rights are being threatened?

In the final day of Trump’s Twitter rant, he advised that the NFL should set a rule, stating that one cannot kneel during the National Anthem, a very unconstitutional request, as the first amendment gives us the right to free speech and expression. He also previously stated that since players have the “privilege” of making millions they should not be allowed to kneel during the anthem; because the amount of money you make apparently dictates how you should exercise your rights: Trump logic at its finest.

Trump’s ignorance made an appearance again, when he stated that kneeling had nothing to do with race, when in fact the very nature of the original protest had absolutely everything to do with race. The true purpose of this protest should never be forgotten in the midst of Trump’s hate. The oppression of black lives will always be original purpose for taking a knee to the National Anthem.