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NFL Controversy: to kneel or not to kneel

Drew Villaca, Guest Writer

The NFL protests are more than just a couple of “entitled athletes” trying to disrespect the country that people say “they should be grateful” towards. I feel I need to note this because, unfortunately, this is what many people seem to think. However, there’s just so much wrong with thinking that. First of all, famous people have just as much right to voice their opinion as everyone else, we should know this because we literally elected a famous person into the office of president. But whenever an actor, artist, or now, athlete, voices their opinion in opposition with what the president says, certain people say they shouldn’t be allowed to. They have a much larger platform to voice those opinions than the rest of us do. The president wanting to silence them is essentially state censorship, which is one of the exact things that we have the first amendment to protect against, but our secretary of Treasury said that they should make use of the first amendment “on their own time.” I really shouldn’t have to say why that’s ridiculous. This entire protest, however, isn’t even about President Trump, it’s about people with a voice raising awareness about something real: police brutality.
We stand during the national anthem to show pride in our country, but how can you expect everyone to have pride when half of the country is actively trying to oppress the other half? Whether or not you realize it, stating that these NFL players (the majority of them being black) shouldn’t be allowed to protest is a form of oppression. They have every right to protest, and they happen to be doing it in an extremely peaceful and effective way. I’ve heard people say that they should be “grateful” for all that they have, but that makes no sense. Grateful to whom? Those athletes worked just as hard to get where they are as anyone else, probably more.
The go-to argument for people who are against the protests is that they are “disrespecting the flag and their country,” however, even if each one of them is disrespecting the flag, that is completely legal. Again, we have this thing called the first amendment, and it’s the reason I’m allowed to write this in the first place. It’s also the reason why these athletes have the right to protest. They happen to be doing it in a very peaceful way, with a very just cause. Brave people fought and died for our country, as well as rights like freedom of speech and freedom to peacefully protest. They fought for the unalienable rights that this country assures to us (which, if you need a reminder, are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness). That’s all these athletes want, is for everyone to remember those unalienable rights, for people to remember that the truth are self-evident that all men and women are created equal. Sometimes you can’t fix a nation’s problem with laws and policy, it needs to start with the people. If we want those athletes, as well as everyone, and I do mean everyone, else to feel such great pride in our nation, then everyone needs to love and treat each other with as much respect and equality as we all deserve. And if that seems wrong to you, then you’re the problem, not the athletes who are trying to make their country better by voicing their opinion.
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