A lot has been made of the #TakeAKnee movement, but critics of this peaceful protest may want to examine their own behavior. Or at least their closets.
Ever since Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee during the national anthem, it has been argued that he has been disrespecting the troops and the flag. Nevermind that he was trying to call attention to the very real problems of police brutality that Black Americans face, his detractors howled that his perceived lack of patriotism was the real crime.
Setting aside the fact that veterans have said that they fight to defend the freedom of speech, let’s take a look at the argument that his actions–and the actions of those who have joined him in protest–is somehow disrespectful to the American Flag.
There are a whole host of ways that people disrespect the American Flag every day, and kneeling in peaceful protest is nowhere on the list. The receipts can be found in Title 4 of the United States Code Chapter 1, Section 8–aptly titled “Respect for Flag”–which clearly outlines what is and is not acceptable treatment of the flag. While there are many things to keep in mind, here are three general rules that jump out at us:
1. Hold It Up
Under 4 U.S.C., §8(c), “The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.” However, it is often carried flat for different ceremonies and remembrances.
2. Remember Your Style Cues
Neither should the flag ever “be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery” (4 U.S.C., §8(d)), but how many U.S. Flag bikinis, shirts, hats, and the like have you seen this summer? Exactly. That said, exceptions are made for red, white, and blue bunting.
Similarly, 4 U.S.C., §8(j) states, “No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.” Of course, members of the military, firemen, law enforcement, and members of patriotic organizations are allowed to wear patches affixed to their uniforms. And, if you simply must don a flag, a lapel pin will have to do, and you better wear it on the left side so that it can be close to your heart.
3. Don’t Pimp The Flag
It also stipulates in 4 U.S.C., §8(i) that, “The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.” That means the festive flag-themed cookout decorations and tableware must go to ensure maximum patriotism. And don’t even think about grabbing a can of anything with a flag printed on it. You’ll also want to leave any pillows and throws bearing a U.S. flag in the store.
And, if one brushes these guidelines off with the idea that true patriotism is more than just following the rules set forth above–that it is something found in your spirit–ESPN reports that Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr had this to say:
“No matter how many times a football player says, ‘I honor our military, but I’m protesting police brutality and racial inequality,’ it doesn’t matter. Nationalists are saying, ‘You’re disrespecting our flag.’ Well, you know what else is disrespectful to our flag? Racism. And one’s way worse than the other.”
This came after Donald Trump rescinded the Warrior’s invite to the White House for winning the NBA Championship, which Steph Curry had already turned down. Steve has met every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan, but meeting Trump may be a bridge too far based on principles.
“The president made it really, really difficult for us to honor that institution,” Steve told reporters. “Our differences, I think in terms of our team and our organization’s values are so dramatically different. I’m talking in terms of inclusion and civil discourse and dignity.
LeBron James saluted the NFL players, owners, and coaches, who supported the #TakeAKnee movement to stand against racial inequality and police brutality.
“It’s powerful what all these athletes are doing,” LeBron told reporters after Sunday’s game. “It’s not about the disrespect of our flag and the military that’s made this world free.”
He added, “It’s about equality.”
LeBron also made no apologies for calling Trump a “bum” for taking aim at Steph. When asked if he had any regrets about that, LeBron shook his head and said, “No.”