Two of the nation’s largest veterans’ organizations released statements slamming entitled NFL players who are participating in the kneeling anthem protests. Both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars has released statements castigating the misguided protesters.
Denise Rohan, National Commander of the American Legion, released a statement declaring that the athletes who take part in these kneeling anthem protests are, “misguided and ungrateful.” He goes on to clarify, “Having a right to do something does not make it the right thing to do. There are many ways to protest, but the national anthem should be our moment to stand together as one UNITED States of America.”
Rohan also commented on Steelers player, Anlejandro Villanueva, “We salute Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva, who stood alone respecting the flag as his teammates stayed in their locker room.” However, it was later discovered that Villanueva did so accidentally, and was since forced by the Steeler’s head coach to apologize for not joining with the rest of the team, to protest the national anthem.
Head of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Keith E. Harman, likewise commended Villanueva for “I stand for our flag and anthem, and I kneel for our fallen … That’s what patriots do. We rally around the flag of our country, not use it and our Constitution as both shield and sword.”
Harman, a Vietnam veteran, echoed Rohan’s sentiments, declaring that his oath is to protect the Constitution meaning he has a right to disagree with how others choose to protest. “There is a time and place for civil debate, and wearing team jerseys, and using sporting events to disrespect our country doesn’t wash with millions of military veterans who have and continue to wear real uniforms on real battlefields around the globe.”
When asked the Defense Secretary James Mattis, he said, “I’m the secretary of Defense. We defend the country,” and brushed the question off in his visit to India.
The practice of kneeling during the National Anthem began last year with Colin Kaepernick as a protest towards the police brutality and the racial inequality. This year the act costed him, he became a free agent, and no team signed him with them.
Trump channeled his wrath throughout the weekend through his tweets, while several other players and owners came to the defense of the protesters, saying that they are entitled to the right to do so under the First Amendment. However, such a defense misses the entire point. Just because an activity is – strictly speaking – legal, does not mean that it is morally acceptable, or just or righteous.
Just because such disgusting protests are allowed by the Constitution does not mean they are right – the law and morality are not the same entities. And, it is as much a constitutional right for entitled NFL players to protest the anthem as it is for Patriotic Americans to voice their disgust over this atrocious behavior.
On Sunday, a couple hundred football players sat or kneeled during the anthem in solidarity, with many of the teams choosing to stay inside their locker rooms during the anthem, including members if the Pittsburgh Steelers.