Professional athletes are kneeling during the national anthem again. The MLB returned last week, and many players took a knee. The NBA returned this week, and with a few exceptions, nearly every player and coach took a knee during the national anthem.

In America, everybody has the right to peacefully protest. Its protected by the first amendment. We all, or most of us, know this. The question of concern is not whether professional athletes should have the right to kneel during the national anthem. The question of concern is, is it appropriate to kneel during the national anthem?

Colin Kaepernick and Nate Boyer

Colin Kaepernick kneels alongside former Green Beret, Nate Boyer.

In 2016, Colin Kaepernick was the first professional athlete to kneel during the national anthem. Initially, he sat during the anthem. Nate Boyer, a former Untied States Army Green Beret, advised Kaepernick to kneel. Many people argue that since Boyer was the one to tell Kaepernick to kneel, kneeling during the national anthem must not be disrespectful to the military. This argument fails because it contains fallacious reasoning. It contains the fallacy of hasty generalization or inadequate sample size. Nate Boyer is only one of the millions of people who have served in the United States military. Just because Nate Boyer advised Colin Kaepernick to kneel does not mean that other people who served in the military find it appropriate.

The Flag and the Country’s Military

Many argue that kneeling during the national anthem is about protesting police brutality and that it has nothing to do with disrespecting the flag or our country’s military. Does the forum for which protests take place have no meaning? I understand that the reasoning behind kneeling during the national anthem is to take advantage of the spectacle created by professional sports. This is not what I am arguing against. I am arguing against the position that kneeling during the national anthem has nothing to do with the flag or the country’s military. The national anthem has meaning. Doing something contrary to the tradition of standing and giving your attention to the flag also has meaning. Kneeling while everyone else is standing inherently forms an opposition to what everyone else is standing for. Understandably, this can be seen as a lack of respect. To be clear, the appearance of a lack of respect created by kneeling is not intentional towards our military, but those who choose to kneel must have a problem with America because kneeling is inherently an alternate form of expression that is different from standing.

The national anthem and the flag represent freedom and equality. This is what America was founded on. Kneeling during the national anthem creates division. It also appears to contradict what the flag and national anthem symbolize, equality and freedom. More specifically, the flag and the national anthem represent being united in the fight for freedom and equality. Is this not what professional athletes claim they are representing when they choose to kneel?

Is Kneeling During the National Anthem Appropriate?

Athletes who choose to kneel during the national anthem are protesting police brutality against black people in America. Police brutality against black people happens in America. In many cases, black people are treated unfairly by the judicial system in America. Perhaps, black people do not feel included in the fight for freedom and equality that is historically American. If so, this is the only justification for kneeling during the national anthem.

One the one hand, America has many flaws. On the other hand, America is perfect because it allows for its flaws to be brought to the forefront by protests and free speech. It is good to see professional athletes united behind the fight for freedom and equality. Kneeling is a form of expression that is contrary to the tradition of standing. Although it contradicts the historically American fight for freedom and equality, It can be justified as an appropriate form of expression because some people have been left out of that very fight for freedom and equality.