Kneeling is respect for the national anthem. They respect the anthem enough to know it is the place to challenge when America is not the place it is destined to be. If they did not kneel while our country is failing in its racial relations it would say the national anthem is not relevant to our country.
All of those who want people to stand for the National Anthem in times of internal crises are the unpatriotic ones. The Players are not avoiding the National Anthem they are relating to it in an invested way. Their critics are not engaged with the national anthem; they are blindly following the whatevers of government and culture.
Trump suggests they stay in the locker room during the anthem if they want to protest. This is like saying if you want to protest come through the back door. They have not chosen to hearken back to Jim Crow years which diminished us as a country. They have come through the front door and said we too are part of America and we are not being treated fairly. We love the anthem but cannot stand for it to be diminished because of ongoing police brutality and racism.
In my own life I have always chosen to dialogue with my elders and tell them respectfully what they are doing that I disagree. I have been told do not waste your time, they will not change. But this is to say they are no longer relevant. Their day is past. I think this is ageism. It is the same attitude when you do not include people in the decisions of your business, non-profits, or family that effect them. Your opinion does not matter we are saying.
When we tell people to conform no matter what is going on; we are letting them know they are not important. We do not need your views, we need your conformity. Trump is asking for conformity in a private business he has no stake in. (It should probably be mentioned here that Trump tried to buy an NFL team but the owners rejected his application.) The nouveau rich New Yorker says he is speaking for Middle America. Which indeed some of them have voted to give him this power.
But the Middle America that he represents are primarily conservative whites. Conservative whites are telling black men to protest in the way they demand and which they are comfortable. This was really on so many levels a battle that President Trump should not have engaged. What a powerful image it could make if people saw the unity of our country in being present for the anthem even when we currently feel disappointment. That is the true believer ‘Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see’ Hebrew 11:1’. To ask them not to stand or not be on the field is to ask them to reject the teaching ‘to be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2.
Unity is not about agreement or conformity of action it is about staying together in truth even when things are not going well. So I say let us make an America that our black brothers cannot only be with us during the National Anthem but be proud to stand. This is the America we are called to be.