Taking knee during national anthem disrespectful, ineffective

AJ Forbes, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Alejandro Villanueva was a United States Army Ranger from 2010 to 2013, serving three tours of duty in Afghanistan. Villanueva went from an infantryman in the Middle East to a starting offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers. On Sept. 24, this man become more than a veteran playing professional football; he became a spearhead that brought attention to another side of a national controversy.

The same weekend of Sept. 24, over 200 NFL players and owners were seen kneeling during the national anthem. This was the result of a combination of several catalysts, including making an attempt to bring attention to racial inequality and protesting comments made by President Trump about the trend of kneeling during the anthem. This trend goes back to the 2016-17 NFL preseason, beginning with former San Francisco 49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

What started as a way to bring attention to police brutality and racial inequality has become a convoluted way of using the national stage to get a point across–all while disrespecting the American Flag and everything it stands for.

I was not a fan whatsoever of kneeling or raising one’s fist during the national anthem before the weekend I mentioned prior. No, I am not ignorant to the fact that there is police brutality in the world, nor am I ignorant about the reality of racism. What I am upset about is those who are protesting these issues are doing so in a manner that is disrespectful.

Going back to Sept. 24, this protest during the national anthem met an opposition it had not previously encountered. While the Pittsburgh Steelers resided in the locker room during the national anthem in order to “protest, in some way, President Donald Trump’s comments on kneeling” according to Sports Illustrated, Villanueva was seen outside the entrance to the field.

Standing alone, the 6’9” giant of a man made a giant statement. With his hand over his heart, Villanueva decided to do what so many have not: respect the flag. The flag that he and so many others fought to defend.

The worst part though? He felt compelled to apologize due to the agenda of his teammates and his coaches.

To some, the “Star-Spangled Banner” has become no more than a simple tune. It seems to have lost that patriotic essence that it carried for so long. Especially within the last year, our national anthem has sadly morphed into a symbol for everything that is wrong with America.

Society today has developed this sorry notion that every problem has some conceivable solution by not actively contributing to the cause. When it comes to respect for our country, as well as the men and women who fight for it, is there not a better way to protest?

Rather than taking a knee during the national anthem, why not begin or fund organizations that go around the country explaining police de-escalation techniques in African-American communities where this problem is most prevalent? Or coordinate with police departments around the country to see what can be done in order to reduce police brutality?

I agree that there is police brutality and racism in the world. What I refuse to agree with is that taking a knee and not participating in the national anthem will do anything besides “raise awareness” without any other moves being made, while also disrespecting American patriotism.