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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Flagging respect

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Monday, August 28, 2017 04:05 pm

Colin Kaepernick, no flag being visible at the moment, please feel free to sit down and be quiet for a change.

Jim Brown, stand and say your piece:

Brown, who fought for social causes throughout his career, told ThePostGame.com he empathizes with jobless quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began the trend of kneeling during the anthem last season when he played for the San Francisco 49ers. But Brown said Kaepernick and other players who demonstrate – such as a dozen Cleveland players who knelt Monday – are going about their crusade the wrong way.

“I'm going to give you the real deal: I'm an American,” Brown said. “I don't desecrate my flag and my national anthem. I'm not gonna do anything against the flag and national anthem. I'm going to work within those situations. But this is my country, and I'll work out the problems, but I'll do it in an intelligent manner.”

Kaepernick began to kneel in order to protest what he alleged was an increasing spate of police brutality against minorities. Brown said he wants to be in Kaepernick's “corner” on the demonstration, but he suggested the act hadn't been thought through.

“If you have a cause, I think you should organize it, present it in a manner where it's not only you standing or sitting on one knee, but a lot of people that is gonna get behind each other and do something about it,” Brown said. “If I ask you one question: Who is Colin calling on to follow what he's talking about?”

Brown also acknowledged players should try to honor the wishes of the team owners who are paying them millions of dollars.

“Colin has to make up his mind whether he's truly an activist or he's a football player,” Brown said. “Football is commercial. You have owners. You have fans. And you want to honor that if you're making that kind of money…”

Brown also talked to the Cleveland team after more than a dozen of them had their little kneel-down. Although they said he didn't tell them what to do, he must have had some effect, because the players who linked arms in solidarity for the next game remained standing throughout the anthem.

I would like to move this beyond Kaepernick and Brown and just talk about the positions they represent because they're going to be troll fodder for all the idiots who always look for reasons not to address the issue at hand. Kaepernick doesn't deserve to be listened to because he's not that good a player anyway, and this is just his desperate attempt to matter. Brown doesn't deserve to be listened to because he's had some domestic violence issues in the past, so what does he know about working through problems "in an intelligent manner." 

But they are the two at the center of this little mini-drama that represents in microcosm what the country is going through, so what the hell.

What Brown is talking about is something mentioned here before — not biting the hand that feeds you — and he does it on two levels.

One is the simple fact that football is a commercial enterprise, and the players who accept a team's paycheck — great, big, whopping paychecks, it must be said — have an obligation to abide by the rules and conditions set by those teams. If they do not wish to offend great big hunks of their audience, who tend to be a fairly patriotic bunch, then perhaps they should find a different way to make their concerns known.

The other is on a grand scale, "the hand that feeds us" being the United States of America. This country and the values it stands for, the values so many of its soldiers fought and died for, are what make it possible for people like Kaepernick to not only protest what they think is wrong but to go and and try to do something about it without getting locked away or shot dead for their efforts. You'd think the irony of it — them disrespecting the flag that symbolizes the country and the values that allows them to display that disrespect without retribution — might sink into their thick heads at leas a little.

Like Brown, I do not question the sincerity of Kaepernick and his imitators. But exactly what do they think they're accomplishing with their stunt? Who are they trying to reach, and to what do they want to lead them? If  they're really trying to get people to see the seriousness of their cause, how is that supposed to work when they start by insulting something they hold dear and, therefore, insulting them?

Because the flag, and by extension the anthem, symbolizes this country and everything it stands for. And one of the things it stands for the strongest is to admit its mistakes and try to fix them. If you look at America's history, you will  certainly not find a nation without sin. But I doubt you will find another country in the history of the world that has tried so hard to make up for its sins and make a more honest effort to bring everybody to the common table.

If that is what they're protesting, then they are not much more than blithering idiots.

I'm a member of the Baby Boom crowd, the generation so big and full of itself that we were called the pig in the python's stomach. All young people have an ugly combination of arrogance and ignorance, but I think my generation abused the privilege. The powers that be made one of the biggest mistakes in modern history by actually paying attention to us and taking what we said seriously. As a result, we did an awful lot of damage to this country before we grew up and realized how the world actually works.

And the establishment is doing it again, and the country is going to suffer the same kind of damage again. A bunch of spoiled brats are having a temper tantrum because they think nobody else has the passion they do for injustice and the ability or the inclination to make it instantly go away. Somebody needs to tell them to sit down and shut up until they learn a little more.

And, please, show a little respect, even if you're just faking it.

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