Here’s why so many people are completely in the wrong about protesting athletes kneeling during the national anthem, protesting the President’s remarks, boycotting the NFL, and making this any sort of conversation right now.

  1. First and foremost: The disaster in Puerto Rico.Why are we talking about the national anthem, millionaires who are paid to play a sport, or what business decisions should be made by the owners of private companies, when there are 3.5 MILLION AMERICAN CITIZENS WITHOUT DRINKABLE WATER OR ELECTRICITY? There are no winners in this debate and it’s timing, but there are 3.5 million losers. So, thank you, Mr. President for taking so much time to further divide the country while defending your lack of interest in and time spent on the Puerto Rican people by pointing out that it’s hard to get to because ya see, it’s an island in the middle of a big ocean called the Atlantic. The rest of us need to focus our energy on helping the victims of Hurricane Maria.
  2. Colin Kaepernick’s message is getting lost. Unfortunately, the reason why Kaepernick knelt has been hijacked and overshadowed by the media and by fellow players in an attempt to show solidarity against the POTUS. Showing the unity and brotherhood is great, but raising your fist on a field, linking arms, or kneeling isn’t going to get anything done as far as dealing with the race issue in America. Kaepernick has made the pledge to donate one million dollars of his own money to charities that help the underprivileged communities composed of mostly minorities. On the first day of this season, he donated $100,000, the ninth time which he has made such a donation. We can’t let the countless players who began kneeling mere days ago detract from the original conversation.ckaepernick
  3. These protests are learning opportunities. Protests are meant to be uncomfortable for at least one portion of the population. Learning and evolution, both personal and with communities, does not happen in areas of comfort. If no one ventured out of their comfort zones, we would learn nothing. There would be no running and playing, there would be no relationships, there would be no travel. Our worlds would be much smaller if we didn’t vacate our comfort zones.
  4. Many Americans don’t know what it means to disrespect the flag. The vast majority of us have disrespected the flag according to the Constitution. I know I have. If you aren’t sure about the level of respect that you’ve displayed, ask yourself the following question: Have I done any of the following? If you answer yes to any of these, you have in fact violated the constitution’s rules on how to honor the flag:
    •Have you purchased or worn clothing, bedding, towels, or drapery with the flag printed on it?
    •Have you used or purchased anything disposable printed with the flag on it, including paper plates, paper cups, paper napkins, tiny paper flags used on baked goods, beer/soda cans?
    •Have you left the flag outside in the dark?
    •Have you ever sat on an American-flag-printed cushion?
    •Have you purchased a costume or athletic uniform that has the American flag printed on it?As a matter of fact, the exact location of these protests are in violation of the US code on how to display a flag: The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.americanflnflFor more on the US Codes as they pertain to the American flag visit, USFlag.org.
  5. This is an issue of race and media baiting. Kaepernick’s message was about race. The president cannot make it about anything else. After the Charlottesville response, it is clear that this is not a president who is seeking to unite the country and heal the very real and very deep race wounds. It is also clear that the media loves a good, old-fashioned angry tweet and the chaos that ensues thereafter. When was the last time you saw the national anthem played for any random sporting event? Unless it is a special day at the stadium, a national holiday, or the Super Bowl, the national anthem is almost never televised. As a matter of fact, are you aware of the fact that before 2009, it was customary for teams to remain in the locker rooms during the anthem? Because of the interest in boosting recruitment, teams were encouraged to take the field. Then because of Trumps’s statement, broadcasters decided to start televising it.
  6. Paid Patriotism is a thing. The current President of the United States could not care less about who stands and who doesn’t do what during the national anthem. If you argue that statement, you haven’t been paying attention. You want to know why he has a problem with specifically football players not standing for the national anthem? Because the United States Defense Department gave the NFL six-million dollars between 2012 and 2015 to act basically as recruitment centers. All of those flyovers, the color guard, the Hometown Hero events— all of it is endorsed by the government. So when you have players defying the symbol of the freedoms which they feel they do not receive fairly, it doesn’t exactly encourage patrons to sign up for the United States military.Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake have both openly opposed the practice.
  7. Soldiers did not fight for this country’s flag. They have fought, been wounded, and died for the freedoms that are supposed to be guaranteed under that flag. The hashtag #veteransforkaepernick is trending, and not without good reason. Many of those who are currently serving and have served, as well as those who have lost husbands, fathers, wives, and mothers; are stepping forward saying that it is the not only Kaepernick’s right, but an appropriate display of protest. As a matter of fact, it was an former-Green Beret who encouraged Kaepernick to transition from sitting to kneeling in protest.
  8. The moral hypocrisy of the NFL and some of its viewership. For all of those boycotting or calling for the boycotting of the NFL this season, it’s a little unsettling that peaceful protest during the national anthem is what has set you and government officials over the edge, but when it comes to drugs, DUIs, murder, crimes against animals, crimes against women, and crimes against children; you are ok still buying season tickets, wearing jerseys, and tuning in every Sunday, Monday, and Thursday. As long as we all know where we stand.

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    This “controversy” is all a big distraction! Distraction from what, you say?

  9. The developments with North Korea. We have a President who speaks via social media, to the press, and in front of the UN antagonizing a world leader who has no real sense of consequence. The same world leader who views our President’s statements as a declaration of war and is prepared to react accordingly. This is a bigger fish to fry, in my humble, non-governmental opinion.
  10. The private e-mail scandal is back! This time it’s in the current administration. Remember when everyone thought Hillary jeopardized national security as Secretary of State by using a private email server? The very day that President Trump went to Alabama to endorse Strange was also the day that it was being discovered that six advisers to the president have used private emails to communicate with other government officials regarding sometimes classified government-related materials. Two of those six offenders include Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump…
  11. Travel Ban 3.0 is here! Now, after a “worldwide review,” the President of the United States is seeking to impose heavily restricted travel to the United States from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. What’s incredibly confusing and aggravating again about this travel ban, is the addition of three countries. Well not all three are confusing. One is. Chad. Why ban Chad? The government has praised Chad for its role in global counterterrorism, but now is saying that the country’s officials do not share enough information with the rest of the world regarding information on terrorists. I don’t know, and from what I’ve read, the people of Chad are confused as well.
  12. Another healthcare bill has come and gone.  The Graham-Cassidy Healthcare Bill, the fourth attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, was on its deathbed at the time of the NFL comments. He knew that he wasn’t going to deliver on his campaign promises again, so he had to find a way to ignite the fire in his base, yet again.healthcare

While I firmly hold onto my beliefs and I know how I have and will continue to treat the American Flag and the national anthem, I do believe that people have the right to stand or kneel, put their hand over their heart or link arms with their neighbor. That is the beauty of the first amendment, it guarantees your right to express yourself in a lawful manner regardless of what one or a million people think of you and your sentiment.

Today, there are too many people who are too sensitive. You have the right to speak out against or for anything. You have the right to protest the speech. You have the right to disagree with the speech. However, you do not have the right to dictate where that person’s speech takes place nor the content of it simply because you don’t like what that individual is saying.

For too long, this country has allowed the fringe issues to divide and distract us. We are arguing over paid athletes’ behavior on the field while detached politicians determine the future of our healthcare, which might not matter as we are potentially on the brink of World War III with a President at the helm who is not only offending global leaders and secluding our nation, but is being investigated because of dealings with a foreign entity who hacked the presidential election, very foundation of our democracy.

We need to focus, stop getting distracted and come together to see the bigger picture that is going to affect us and our children.