During a speech last Friday night, President Trump condemned the NFL players who have decided to take a knee during the national anthem that is traditionally performed before every football game. Trump brashly referred to players like Colin Kaepernick as ‘sons of b*tches’ and urged NFL owners to fire any player who disrespects the national anthem and our flag by kneeling while it is played. Before yesterday’s game, more football players knelt in protest of the national anthem than ever before. The entire Steelers team (besides for Alejandro Villanueva – a former army ranger) remained in the locker room during the national anthem. It seems as though players may be protesting Trump more than anything else.

What do players say they’re protesting against?

In all honesty, I’m still unsure what exactly players like Kaepernick are protesting. When asked, they seem to mention racial injustice, especially the unfair manner in which people of color are treated by police. Assuming that this is the general issue that the NFL protesters are seeking to shine a light on, I see this as 2 distinct issues: systemic racism vs. police brutality/government tyranny.

It seems difficult for a massive group of mostly black millionaires (well-deserved as their wealth is) to complain that they are victims of a systemically racist society. I believe that nearly everyone has advantages and disadvantages in life, and that just about anyone can attain success in this great country if they put in some honest work.

If they are protesting police brutality/unaccountability, on the other hand, I would agree that it’s a concerning issue throughout the US, and I would add that all types of Americans are affected by violent cops – even white nurses from Utah. If they went about their protest in a more inclusive fashion, they may be more likely to gain support from me and many others like me.

I wish that Terrell Suggs would come out and announce that he’s kneeling because he’s sick of the Right and the Left conspiring against American citizens in authoritarian fashion in their efforts to take away every last bit of liberty we have. I wish that Eric Reid called for police who beat or kill restrained suspects to be punished like the rest of us. I wish that Kaepernick would encourage his fans to vote libertarian so that we could begin our long journey back to freedom – freedom to keep our income, freedom to protect ourselves from government and criminals, freedom to open a business. But I’m not holding my breath.

Is the first amendment relevant?

To the confused Americans on both sides, the first amendment protection of free speech only applies to the government and guarantees that government cannot punish people for speech. It is not a moral justification for any type of speech, nor does it force employers to tolerate such speech.

For Trump and Clinton and the other statists who are calling for laws to mandate reverence for the flag, I recommend you read George Orwell’s ‘1984’ and visit North Korea, where it is actually mandatory to respect the flag and the government.

Why did Trump get involved?

I heard someone mention on Breitbart’s radio show a few days ago that Trump may have once again thrown us all off of the important issue by throwing some red meat at the media, and they fell for the bait hook, line, and sinker. (And therefore, so did we) What did Trump want to distract us from? Well, you may recall the term ‘Drain the Swamp’. It was pretty much Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. It referred to his promise to drain Washington D.C. of the career politicians that have inhabited it for 30-40 years in many cases. Mitch McConnell is perhaps the ultimate career politician, as he’s the Senate majority leader. A super PAC associated with McConnell spent $4.2 million on Luther Strange’s campaign to replace now-attorney general Jeff Sessions as US senator from Alabama. Trump is seemingly throwing his weight behind Strange in opposition to conservative Roy Moore as a show of good faith/arranged agreement with McConnell, likely in exchange for something legislative or some other type of favor to be returned some time down the road. Trump wants as few people as possible to know that he is endorsing and campaigning for the exact type of politician that his campaign was predicated on removing. This is likely just a distraction, and it’s working as well as Trump could have hoped!

What is real patriotism?

My initial thought last year was that Kaepernick was an anti-American, anti-capitalist, leftist who may be dating another leftist extremist who has encouraged him to hate American values. Building on this and the visceral hatred I had for disrespectful acts towards the American flag, I considered those who knelt to be offensive, un-American, complainers, and hypocrites.

Now, I’m conflicted. Despite the communist/semi-radical Muslim that Kaepernick may well be, I’m no longer certain that I have an issue with people disrespecting the American flag. I could write a whole essay on whether the flag represents the united states of our founders’ era or of today, but I’m sure that others have already done so, and much better than I ever could. Surely, each person associates the flag with something different. Some may associate it with the American Revolution, some may associate it with the current US government, and some may have never even thought about it.

Part of me feels that the most real form of patriotism – the pure form of patriotism that inspired our founding fathers to create this nation is rebellion against a tyrannical government. In that same manner, disrespecting the flag and the current tyrannical government may in fact be the most patriotic thing that could be done in regard to the flag.

Should conservatives have an issue with the protest?

Conservatives have largely taken serious opposition to violent protests in response to black people dying in police confrontations, and rightly so. Conservatives repeatedly condemned violence and told leftists that there’s a better way to protest. Are they now hypocrites for losing their minds over non-violent protests?

As I type this, I feel that I’ve discovered how I feel about the national anthem protests. Seeing as how the NFL protesters are almost certainly protesting the American values that inspired Washington and Jefferson to create this great nation (in addition to them ‘hating’ Trump), I do not support the kneeling. I might, however, support withholding reverence for the flag if it was determined by the individual to represent government and the tyranny that it has come to embody. I can tell you this: I no longer wave the American flag with as much pride as I used to a few years ago. I love what our founders created; the ultimate free society lightly controlled by individuals who were common folk and not royalty, elected by peers, not born into a bloodline. But if my waving that American flag now could be seen as my support for Trump, the largest national debt in history, socialist-level taxation, gun control, Orwellian endless war and spying, then I am not proud of that. When we return the average effective income tax of Americans to below 5% and we make the Bill of Rights paramount once more, I’ll proudly wave the stars and stripes like I did when I was an ill-informed child who thought that 21st century America still possessed a tradition of freedom.

More important to me than whether football players stand or sit or kneel during the anthem is that many Americans had over 40% of their income stolen last year. Also more important is that the 2nd amendment is violated in the US every single day. What’s more important is that the US is waging military battle or has troops in almost every state in the world. In almost every US state, the government technically owns children and mandates that they are indoctrinated by government curriculum, generally in government schools. These problems are much bigger than the anthem protests. I’d sooner burn the flag myself than send my child to be indoctrinated by educators who are surely more authoritarian and manipulative and corrupt than King George circa 1770. If you no longer consider me to be a patriot for supporting liberty (the ultimate American tradition) over a piece of cloth, I would counter that you are no patriot.

Nationalism is a complicated concept that may be considered a positive or negative trait by various citizens. Some Americans place emphasis on the flag and the national anthem, while others focus on personal liberty and self-governance. In this increasingly divisive time, I offer another American tradition that we could all embrace: Unity against the tyrannical government. It’s what created this incredible nation in the first place.