Kneeling during national anthem is not disrespect

NASCAR this week did more than ban confederate flags from races, cars and properties. It also took a stand for those who use peaceful protest to make a point during national anthems.
Kirk Price, a NASCAR official, kneels during the national anthem before a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday in Hampton, Ga. {AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Amid all the attention given to NASCAR’s announcement Wednesday to ban confederate flags from the organization’s races and properties was another decision by the sanctioning body to eliminate the requirement to stand for the national anthem before racing starts.

The decision came at the race in Atlanta Sunday and NASCAR official Kirk Price, who served in the U.S. Army, dropped to his knee during the national anthem

Price saluted during the anthem but remained on his knee.

Driver Bubba Wallace, whose comments about displaying confederate flags led NASCAR to ban the flags and items displaying it, praised Price:

If I would have seen it, I would have went there and stood next to him, kneeled next to him because it’s such a powerful move. A man, an incredible man, who has served our country, kneeling down. People think it’s disrespecting the flag and going against our military, and it’s definitely not.

–NBC News

Before the race in Atlanta NASCAR handed out a notice to crew chiefs notifying them that the section requiring crew to stand during the anthem is remove, leaving anyone who wishes to protest permission to kneel.

“That section has been eliminated,” NASCAR said in the statement.

The section requiring standing was added about three years after two car owners said they were against protest during the national anthem.

NASCAR is not alone. National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted he was wrong to not listen to the players they are no longer expected to stand for the anthem if they feel a need to protest. That of course, pissed off Donald Trump who told every NFL owner to fire “any son-of-a-bitch” who kneels but fewer and fewer people listen to him these days.

Like a growing number of Americans, Goodell did not care what Trump thought about his decision.

In a video, Goodell announced:

We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all players to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe that black lives matter.

–Roger Goodell
San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold (left), quarterback Colin Kaepernick and safety Eric Reid kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

When NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem in protests actions during the anthem at games, critics claimed he was dishonoring veterans. However, Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret and friend, who played college football as a long snapper at the University of Texas after his military service and briefly for the Seattle Seahawks.

Says Boyer, who is an activist for veterans’ rights and works in vets outreach:

The fact of the matter is that we’ve got to make sure that the narrative is understood that the protests are about racial inequality, social injustice and police brutality, and that kneeling during the anthem was a mechanism to raise that attention and to get those voices heard. But it’s not about disrespecting the flag or disrespecting the military.

–Nate Boyer

Without explanation an acquaintance in Floyd County friend stopped talking to me a few years ago. He apparently disliked an article supporting of kneeling to protest police brutality and social injustice.

I’m sorry someone felt a difference of opinion is all it took to dissolve a friendship. Supporting the right of anyone to kneel as a protest for what they feel is a valid cause during the national anthem is a freedom and a right in a country that proclaims itself “the land of the free.”

While I normally stand proud for the anthem, I have also kneeled to join others to protest police brutality. The protests that have lasted for more than two weeks over the murder of a black man by Minneapolis police who were fired and now are charged in his death tells us that such brutality still exists in some police departments.

Fortunately, we have not seen anything like the shameful actions of some law enforcement agencies here with officers who serve in Floyd County. Our thanks to officers in the Sheriff’s Department and troopers of the Virginia State Police who have shown they respect the rights of those accused and put service first.

A second thank-you to NASCAR for its actions that.

(This article, written on the evening of June 12, was updated with new information on the morning of June 13.)

 

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