Kneeling and the Flag
October 23, 2017
Kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Pledge of Allegiance has proven to be an extremely divisive topic in the United States. It has even reached us at Granite City High School.
While some consider it a peaceful protest, others find it disrespectful. This type of protest was brought to our attention in August 2016, when NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernik began sitting during the national anthem to show support for people of color, specifically those who were being oppressed and under the constant threat of police brutality. After meeting with a fellow NFL player and former Green Beret, Nate Boyer, Kaepernik adjusted his protest by kneeling as opposed to sitting, to avoid offending the military. Since Kaepernik’s protest, many individuals began to take a knee across the country.
Junior Jake Woods believes it is a person’s right to kneel during the pledge. “It is their choice if they want to protest peacefully. It is one of the better ways to protest because no one is getting hurt.” Senior, Meredith Glass has a different opinion. She stated, “I feel like there is a better way to fight for their rights. My brother is in the army, and if there are people fighting and risking their lives, it’s disrespectful to kneel.”
Mr. Hutchings, an English teacher who served in the military, does not get offended. He believes that is the idea behind fighting for your country. “The whole point of fighting for our country is that we have the freedom to express ourselves and to protest.” He also adds, “I actually appreciate kneeling instead of just sitting because with kneeling I feel like you are still showing respect, but you are trying to make a point.”
Mrs. Connolly, also a member of the English department, strongly believes kneeling in peaceful protest is protected by the First Amendment—freedom of speech, religion, press, petition, and assembly. Mrs. Connolly believes that by discussing all sides of an issue “students will be able to think for themselves.” Often, students may only limit their opinions to what they may have heard at home. She said she supports taking a knee because of “events that disproportionately happen against people of color; in particularly young black men.”
It is clear that students as well as staff have differing opinions whether or not kneeling is a respectful way to protest. Whatever your stance may be, our country allows you to embrace your beliefs.