My dad sent me an email that shared a letter from a retired Marine Corps Colonel. A quick online search shows that this letter is available on Allen B. West’s website.
I responded to my dad this way:
I think you know me to be a very pro-American person. I find the opportunity to stand during the National Anthem to be a time to reflect on the wonderful opportunities afforded me in this country. Furthermore, I stand not out of compulsion but out of desire. I am reminded of my time in uniform, when I watched young men (we only trained men at RTC San Diego) go through boot camp and graduate before being shipped off to faraway places to risk their lives. We used to play the National Anthem at each graduation and each time it was incredibly emotional for me to experience what felt like the weight of a nation being supported on the shoulders of the young men that stood in front of me.
With that as context, I have a few thoughts.
- I personally cannot relate to Colin Kaepernick’s (CK) method and venue for protest. However, it is his right as an American to do so. It is your/our/their/his/her/etc. right to disagree with CK’s choice(s), but we should fully support his right to take the actions he did or else we are trying to deprive him of the very freedoms for which men and women died.
- The Marine below states that CK’s actions are “disrespect(ing) what brave Americans fought and died for”. If the brave Americans fought and died for our freedoms (which I believe they did do) then I think they died so that people like CK could take actions that others find to be distasteful. Furthermore, I don’t think he is disrespecting them, he is communicating that he thinks there is room for improvement in the lives of certain groups of people in America. And I will say that anybody who disagrees with this is welcome to their opinion but in need of some perspective.
- I do not think CK is disrespecting those who died, but rather he is using the freedoms they fought for in a way with which some might disagree—but that is the beauty (or should be) of America—we can agree to disagree. Hopefully in a peaceful and respectful manner. (Note that CK was peaceful—he didn’t disrupt anybody else—and respectful—at least in terms of not saying anything offensive nor undertaking any offensive actions other than not standing.)
- Is it true that if they disrespected the refs or the owners or the other team’s players that they would be fined? Yes. But those are the rules and regulations of the NFL. The rules and regulations of the USA state that he has a right to express himself.
- The author refers to CK (and others who take the same approach to protest) as “scum”—I’m not sure CK is scum. Perhaps he is a man of extreme privilege who does not adhere to the image of the Marine’s idea of how a man of privilege should behave, but, really—scum? As soon as you call somebody “scum”, especially for this, then it’s hard to get mad at Hillary Clinton for referring to Donald Trump’s supporters as “deplorables”—you can’t have it both ways unless you are okay with being a hypocrite.
As I said earlier, I disagree with his method and venue for protesting, but I fully support his right to do so and am glad that we live in a country that, through the blood shed by uniformed men and women, we are all able to partake of such freedoms. And we should strive to build a country where people want to stand and do so not out of compulsion (which is the very antithesis of freedom) but out of desire.