the standing kneeling controversy

Prof Volokh

I just read your apparently non-committal column discussing the anthem controversy.

Here is my point of view:

1) I think it is good and reasonable for some or all teams to allow some or all of their members to either stand or kneel;
2) I assume that Koepernick and his comrades are goofy in their choice of protest, but I appreciate 2a) their choice to express a political and/or social view and 2b) their choice to express that view in a peaceful way likely to engender discussion and questioning.

3) I listen to conservative talk radio and I am sure that many of the conservative talk radio hosts are appalled and dismayed at the abysmal ignorance on the part of large parts of the public of the basic functioning of the gov and of the basic rights protected by the bill of rights. The talk show hosts and I can name the freedoms protected in amendments 1, 2, 4, 5 and 8 and 10 and 14, but half the public or more or less would fail badly at specifying even half of the rights specified and a lot of the public can’t specify how or why those rights should be protected or are protected and 1/3 of college men in state-run institutions apparently believe it is ok to use violence to shut down speech that they regard as disagreeable.

4) if and when Koepernick and any others kneel for the anthem, I’d say, sure and let them and then interview them and find out if Koepernick can specify the cause for which he is protesting and also offer a proposed solution. Most of the police do not go out to randomly kill disagreeable blacks. There are problems and the shooting of Philando Castille looks very bad, but to me, much of the problems seem to me to be due to poor training of the police and not to malice or the tolerance of malice.

5) I mostly support the US and believe God helped set things up in the USA for economic, social and religious liberty, while at the same time, the US makes some errors and does or tolerates injustice at times. I doesn’t matter to me if some stand to support the good the US does or to express some anger at injustice tolerated. I could stand for the Venezuela flag if that means supporting the people of Venezuela . . . but I do not particularly like Maduro and I don’t suppose Venezuelan socialist tyranny and starvation.

6) As far as music goes, I much prefer the German and the Russian national anthems and the American anthem requires a very broad vocal range, one which is uncomfortable, difficult and nearly impossible for anyone who is not a trained singer or professional to sing properly. I am not a Nazi or a Communist and the German and Russian anthems have had several versions (and political meanings) according to the then-current politics of the nation. It may be that the conservative talk show hosts I hear on the radio can sing the US national anthem, but I come from a church where we sang for 1 to 2 hours a Sunday and we were trained to sing and I could not do it and I could not even come close to doing it properly. I could play it on the violin or on the piano I am sure, but I could in no way sing it properly and probably not even closely.

7) I am opposed to BLM protests that result in shops damaged, destroyed or burned or stopping traffic from getting to the hospital, the emergency room or a political rally. If Koepernick or some high schoolers or other professional football players wish to express a view, then, great . . . there is no violence, and afterwards some reporter should ask them, “What is your cause?” and “What is your proposed solution?”

8) Maybe the doctor who discovered the traumatic brain injury might decline to stand due to how society has treated him and his discovery or maybe he would stand in honor of God creating a land and a nation that works far better than Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and a dozen other African nations where we would rather not live. The USA does both good and harm; it is ok to offer a critique.

9) I’ve got a number of Jehovah’s Witness friend and acquaintances and you may know the US Supreme court allowed and then struck down the requirement on the Witnesses pledging allegiance to the flag. We can surely live with people who take up arms and with Witnesses in the same society . . . and we can surely live with standers and kneelers.

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