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Kneeling for Freedom of Speech

- By Carolina Brust, Staff Writer -

Colin Kaepernick, former quarterback of the San Francisco 49er’s, is attributed to the recent wave of National Football League (NFL) players kneeling during the national anthem in response to racial tension in the United States. I was surprised to see such a blatant protest in the middle of a highly televised event, but I encourage his message and support his right to do so. However, I was shocked to see the level of backlash Kaepernick and those who followed suit received in response to their peaceful protest. In response, President Trump tweeted, “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL,or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country)..!” As a nation that loves bragging about the privilege its citizens have over other nations in concern to their rights, why would this simple exercise of his First Amendment rights set the public off? It’s hypocritical for people to get angry over Kaepernick’s right to the freedom of speech when at the same time Congress spends millions to secure votes to protect their Second Amendment rights. I believe Kaepernick was well-endowed to express his rights and I don’t see his protest as disrespectful. Protesting during sporting events isn’t new, like Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists akin to the salute of the Black Panthers during the 1968 Olympics. I imagine if Kaepernick were white this would be a different situation altogether. A white man expressing his rights is seen as patriotic, while a person of color doing the same thing is seen as a menace and a criminal. The protesters at Charlottesville, all expressing their freedom of speech, were jailed and attacked based on the premise that their actions started the following riot. After Kaepernick’s demonstration, athletes and sports-goers alike have begun kneeling in protest during  the national anthem. We will continue to be torn as a nation until we get to the root of the discourse at hand and work to dissolve the prejudices we hold. Only then can we move forward into being a more free-thinking body.

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