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Kneeling to the flag

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To me, this seems like a nobrainer. But, then I'm not a nationalistic person and generally view nationalism with the same sort of disdain as I view malaria.

NFL footballers are kneeling the flag, because racism continues to be an endemic problem in the US. Magnified, by the current President who appears to be a bigot of the highest order.
People want NFL footballers not to kneel, because they're concerned about "disrespect to the flag." As an outside observer the phrase "disrespect to the flag" comes across very much like an excuse to ignore the issues being raised. Issues which are vastly more severe than people being "disrespectful" to whatever deeply subjective notions people attached to the flag.

It seems to me simple enough that if people are sufficiently upset to kneel to the anthem/flag/whatever, then the issue is serious. And that addressing the issues causing them to kneel, will in turn, cause them to stand again.

The problems with racial inequality in US society go back centuries. In modern society, post the 1950s, NFL players have been "respecting the flag" and yet the problems of racism continue to persist.

When people start kneeling, why insist they stand? That is just a perpetuation of the status quo. If the President came out and said something like "ok, I get the message, we'll address this issue as a priority, providing you stand up" then there would be some merit to asking people to stand. Instead, Trump doubled down and threatened these players instead.  Which if anything, only gives further justification to why they should be kneeling in the first place.

The notion that "people sacrificed for the flag" to give it a totemic quality that means respect for it should never be violated doesn't wash. The people who sacrificed gave their lives for a varying set of principles and values. Some people gave their lives for the flag because they had no say in the matter. A lot of poor black people gave their lives for the flag as a result of conscription and I doubt very much, whether they would be complaining about NFL football players kneeling now about rights and equality for black people. After all, the only reason so many young black men were conscripted was because they were poor and uneducated which are, in turn, the products of inequality in US society. Indeed, it seems rather crass and illogical for a black NFL footballer to stand in respect of a flag/anthem, that evidently doesn't respect all of the lives sacrificed for it.

The Americans complaining about NFL fooballers kneeling, are just playing pick'n'mix with which "sacrificed" lives have value to them and which do not. I'm willing to place a safe bet that the lives with "value" are those of loved ones and the sacrifice of "all" lives for the flag is viewed through that lens. When a white person complains about the disrespect to lives "sacrificed" for the flag, it is fair that the lives they are thinking about are "white" lives. Not out of racism but, simply because of how people's minds work. They're not thinking about sacrificed black lives and certainly not thinking in the context in which those sacrifices were made.

The national symbols of the US (constitution, anthem, flag) have a cultural prominence that I think you have to be American to truly understand. The level of outrage and the rhetoric used baffle me. But I agree with all you said and absolutely think these guys are doing a good thing - I really enjoyed it when Trump came out with his "fire the sons of bitches" statement and the number of people kneeling jumped up from a handful to what seemed like half the players.

--- Quote ---The notion that "people sacrificed for the flag" to give it a totemic quality that means respect for it should never be violated doesn't wash.
--- End quote ---

I hadn't thought about this on the lines you talked about, i.e. whose sacrifice, but they were good points. It comes out a lot as an emotional argument to try to associate with the taboo of criticising soldiers, but I think that's flawed. They fought for the country not the flag, the flag symbolises the country​... and the whole of the country, which is more than the military. If one aspect of the country has a problem then protesting the flag is totally appropriate, and it says nothing about other aspects.

There's nothing to suggest that these guys kneeling are against the US generally - I think the opposite ​actually, since they obviously understand the power of what they're doing and seemed reluctant to do it. People should seriously consider what would bring them to it, but as you say they would rather ignore it and disrespectfully shout about disrespect.

If Clinton, or any of the other republicans won, it wouldn't have been this big as it is now.  We have another thread for that fool.

As yet another non American , we look from the outside and don't fully get it all, but it seems there are a lot of inputs which this mess that need work.  Racial tensions, police brutality, the fact so many people are packing guns.   


--- Quote from: TheMikrobe on October 01, 2017, 05:48:19 PM ---The national symbols of the US (constitution, anthem, flag) have a cultural prominence that I think you have to be American to truly understand.
--- End quote ---

I think the nationalistic mindset is something that can be understood readily enough. Individual nations have different rallying points for nationalism although use of the national flag is pretty consistent.
One of the things that does strike me about the US is that there is a high level of indoctrination into nationalism. Having children do the pledge of allegiance is an example of that. The fact that the political right has also managed to work its religious agenda into US nationalism overtly from the 1950s onwards, is deeply disturbing.

It doesn't take much to see why some Americans get so riled up about their flag, without stopping to ask themselves why.

The nation as a whole did not pay attention to Kaepernick's kneel down last year, and thus didn't bother to understand why the whole league was doing it this time.  Shannon Sharpe did a whole bit on his show about how the NFL wasn't kneeling for racial inequality, they were kneeling because they were told not to (and rich people hate being told what to do), having already ignored several bigoted things said by Trump and tragedies that were allegedly race-related, and didn't care to "show solidarity" last year with Kaepernick.  The kneeling issue started before Trump, and the NFL as a whole didn't do a good job explaining their reasons for it this time (and/or the media didn't bother to mention it, hoping to fan the flames).  People are too quick to be offended these days, and many genuinely think that the NFL was "protesting free speech by using free speech" or some such without listening to what the real issue was (racial violence and inequality). 

Racial violence is something the media has talked about so much that everyone accepts now that "it happens a lot", when there's much less proof that it does (they bring it up whenever it might apply but never bring up any evidence or proof that is was in-fact not racially-motivated), although it's one of those things that is so bad that it's better to be watchful for than to ignore entirely.  Pretty much any news story involving a White person and a Black person "is clearly racially-motivated" according to the media, which is a lie told so often that people have started believing it, which makes them pay more attention to the news, which leads to bigger paychecks, rinse, repeat.  The media wins either way in this case I guess, either by ignoring the real issue and saying the NFL is unpatriotic or hates the military to provoke the right, or stirring up racial tensions to provoke the left. 


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