Take a Knee. Take a Seat. Take a Chill Pill.

English: American students pledging to the fla...
American students pledging to the flag in a former form of the salute, specifically the Bellamy salute . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners,” US president Donald Trump thundered from the stage of a September campaign rally, “when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!'”

Many seem to agree that professional football games are no place for political statements. Well, at least they agree now. I don’t recall a peep from them for nearly a decade of the US government shelling out millions of dollars to turn professional football games into combination political statements and military recruitment rallies.

Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle reports, a Texas high school student has been expelled for sitting through morning prayers to the god called government, also known as “the Pledge of Allegiance.”

C’mon, people — relax!

Is it truly important that someone you don’t know didn’t assume your preferred bodily posture while a song you like was played?

Is it the end of the world that a high school student doesn’t practice the same (secular) religion as you?

I was brought up to respect the flag. The Marine Corps reinforced that tendency. A 48-star flag adorned my grandfather’s casket (he served in the navy in World War Two). A 50-star flag just may cover mine one of these days. My personal politics notwithstanding, I’m a little bit attached to its symbolism.

But at the end of the day, the flag is a piece of cloth that some people don’t attach positive, let alone reverent, feelings to. The cry that some people “died for” it is, frankly, disrespectful to those people and whatever their real reasons were for taking up arms beneath it.

The national anthem is a song that glorifies the killing of rebellious slaves, some of whose descendants are likely among those criticized for failing to stand while it’s played (ask the grandchild of an Auschwitz survivor to stand for the Deutschlandlied and see how he or she responds).

And the “Pledge of Allegiance” was written by a flag salesman to, you guessed it, boost his flagging sales numbers (sorry, couldn’t help myself there).

If it bothers you to the point of distraction that some people are, by your lights, insufficiently respectful of the Stars and Stripes, your priorities are way out of whack. And if the flag does indeed stand for freedom, you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Also published on Medium.


    Thomas you are wrong on this one. But what do i know only 24+ months in Vietnam as an Infantryman and Aerial Observer and a total of 25 years service in the USMC.
    Promoting disrespect toward the Nation and its values will only lead to its downfall and you seem to be an enabler to that end! Yes we started with a sin in slavery but the blacks must assume some responsibility as they were some of the traders. Let it go or ask some blacks that lived in the 50’s and 60’s if it has not gotten better. But most of those protesting have never served in any shape or form for their country or their communities and now in the NFL case are multi millionaires – give me a break Tom! Doing something constructive can be other than alienating people who bled and died for their country.
    Freedom aint free and many of us on the street believe there is owed a certain amount of respect for this great Nation. Watch this and tell me what you think?

    • Richard,

      I’ve already told you what I think — that’s what the column was about.

      I only spent about half as much time as you in the Marine Corps (0341 — 81mm mortars in an infantry weapons company) and only about a quarter of that time in a war zone (Saudi Arabia/Kuwait, 1991).

      If you think that your two years at war and 25 years in the military were about whether or not someone positions their body the way you want them to when a song you like is being played, I say that you invested a lot of time and work in something that wasn’t worth it.


    “The National Anthem is a song that glorifies the killing of rebellious slaves…” How was the war of 1812, when the British bombed Ft. McHenry and Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that became the National Anthem, glorifying the killing of slaves? I thought the poem was about his joy to see the flag still waving after an onslaught of British firepower through the day and ensuing night. I always understood the flag to represent the nation not the piece of fabric. Reading your article I was under the impression that you see it as the fabric more than waht it represents as our nation? Just curious if I’ve missed something.