Sohn: Take a knee out of respect for freedom

Sohn: Take a knee out of respect for freedom

September 26th, 2017 by Pam Sohn in Opinion Times

Atlanta Falcons defensive tackles Grady Jarrett (97) and Dontari Poe (92) take a knee during the national anthem before an NFL football game Sunday in Detroit. Other teammates join arms with them to show solidarity.

Photo by Carlos Osorio

Related Article

Some in NFL set to move past Trump-prodded anthem displays

Read more

Anytime Donald Trump trots out the R-E-S-P-E-C-T word, you can bet it has about as much credibility as his pet phrase, "Believe me."

The divider-in-chief can't help himself. He sows chaos and spews rancor. It's what he does.

Especially when he needs to change the conversation about his other failings — like stoking nuclear war with North Korea, like wishing we'd believe the Russia probe is a hoax, like his White House advisers dropping like flies, like his son-in-law using his personal email ("lock him up!") for government business, like not pulling enough GOP support in a GOP-majority Senate to pass Trump/GOP care.

So he jumped on National Football League players making a peaceful protest of racism in 2017 America.

Players protesting racism gave him easy red-meat pickings to throw out as he campaigned last week in Huntsville, Ala., for a Senate seat primary candidate that Trump has backed, but who is unlikely to win — another loss for the Trump ego.

Related Article

President Trump 'proud of NASCAR' for protest-free race

Read more

The president spoke in language that would have to be bleeped in most homes. He denigrated the players and their mothers as he called for NFL owners to fire those who kneel or sit in peaceful protest during the national anthem.

Such protests took modest hold last season among some black players after Colin Kaepernick, the now-former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, first remained seated, then took a knee to protest racial and social injustice after a number of instances of police brutality made national news.

Trump claims his criticisms of the kneeling protests are not about race, but about disrespect for the anthem, the flag and veterans — "a total disrespect of our heritage, that's a total disrespect of everything that we stand for."

But after our president's disrespect of one of our core freedoms, the freedoms that our veterans fought for, that modest protest mushroomed this weekend into a nationwide — and diverse — rebuke of Trump.

Several of the NFL team owners, rather than firing the scores of players who knelt or joined arms, protested with them.

Any time you have to say something's not about race, you have a problem.

Put this president's concerns for respect in context. In Trump's view, taking a knee as a peaceful protest (Kaepernick specifically took a knee rather than sitting out the anthem as a sign of respect for veterans) is disrespectful, but a protest of white guys carrying torches and chanting "Jews will not replace us" at a Charlottesville, Va., white supremacists' rally had some "very fine people" in it.

When will this president unite us? Sadly, the answer is never.

But perhaps Colin Kaepernick and the National Football League just did. And they did it by demonstrating American values, not tweeting or ranting to exploit them.

Recognizing America's failure to achieve racial justice and social equality is in no way disrespectful of our military or our heritage. On the contrary, our military heroes — and our civilian heroes — fight for freedom, not a song. Not even a flag.

Free speech and peaceful protest are among the freedoms that already make America great.

Related Article

Pats' Tom Brady calls Trump's NFL comments 'just divisive'

Read more

Related Article

Don't talk about mom: NFL players angry over Trump's insult

Read more
Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315