...With Liberty And Justice for all

 

In their rush to complain about societal imperfections the NFL protesters have lost sight of some fundamental American values. Values that have found little official expression in the rest of the world. Expressions like the headline of this column that comes from the end of our pledge of allegiance. 

The controversy that has been sparked by the NFL is a classic example of a protest that is doing more harm to our collective lives than actually solving any great societal ill.

Commenting on the players refusing to stand for the national anthem, American Legion National Commander Denise Rohan said, “It wasn’t political when it was written and it shouldn’t be political today. Having a right to do something does not make it the right thing to do.”

The issue here is there are certain symbols of our shared heritage that are sacred. Among them are our flag our national anthem our pledge of allegiance and the founding documents that form the basis of our national values. 

There is no doubt that as human beings we often fall short of achieving the perfect execution of our shared principles. It is true that in our history we have had to address the shortcomings of our human frailty. But it’s the principles and values expressed in those sacred symbols, words and documents that have often called on each one of us to strive for a more perfect union.

Throughout our history, great leaders have used our sacred symbols not to divide us but to call on us to work to become more perfect masters of the values we purport to share.

Abraham Lincoln used the Declaration of Independence to call attention to the evils of slavery when he campaigned for President pointing out that “all men are created equal.”

Martin Luther King challenged our nation to address issues of racism in his famous I have a dream speech.

We have made great strides in addressing the issues of racism and intolerance thanks to those great leaders. And it wasn’t without great sacrifice or pain that real change has been forged. 

Too many today have forgotten that thousands of white young men died under the flag in a great civil war to end slavery.

Too many today have forgotten than it was conservative white men that worked to pass the legislation abolishing slavery and passing civil rights legislation.

Too many young black men today have been taught they have a right to disrespect authority because all law enforcement people are inherently racist.

Unfortunately, we have lost site of the ways we have established to insure we continue to strive to improve our society while respecting the rights of all Americans. Instead we have begun to accept the rule of the angry mob. Perceived injustice is met with howls of, “no justice no peace.” 

Martin Luther King was right when he said, “..little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

The NFL players have gotten their protest all wrong. Their complaint is about the content of our national character not the symbols that call us to live as a more tolerant people.

As Commander Rohan has pointed out, they may have the right to do it but it is the wrong thing to do. Disrespecting our flag and national anthem is disrespecting the sacrifice of all of those brave Americans who have fought and died to preserve our freedom and the values we profess to hold dear.

Attacking our sacred symbols is an attack on our nation and our national character not on our individual character flaws.

The NFL and the players should not be surprised at the visceral reaction they have encountered as a result of the exercise of their “free speech.” President Trump and the American people also have the right to respond to their protest. 

NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell needs to resign and the owners need to enforce the contract with their players that calls for them all to stand during the anthem. Otherwise the stadiums where these teams play should be shut down. They were paid for with taxpayer funds. Taxpayers have a right to refuse service to those who cannot respect all of our people or our symbols of American unity.

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