Is There a Right (or Wrong) Way to Protest?

Rylee Cuthbertson, Contributor

Recently there has been a lot of controversy on the topic of the silent protests during the U.S. national anthem during sports events–mostly football. The protest began with a San Francisco 49ers player named Colin Kaepernick, who said he hoped that taking a knee would get people to think how African American people are too often being shot by the police of our great nation. This is also known as: Black Lives Matter.

The reason many people probably don’t know is that all people care about is how they are kneeling and sitting during the song. Some people believe that the national anthem is something you should show respect for, not something you use to your benefit. Everyone who went to elementary school remembers having to stand for the nation anthem. Even now you’re required to stand in our school.

I went around school and got two quotes from the students and two quotes from teachers.

Our favorite theatre teacher, Mrs. Fuller, had this to say when asked about the protest: “I am very conflicted about the controversy surrounding the national anthem at football games. On one side, kneeling is a sign of respect and I would rather see a peaceful protest than a violent one. But, because I work in a school and have many military students. I also believe it is important to honor those who have fought hard to keep our country free.” Mrs. Fuller has taught many army kids and feels this way.

Another teacher, Mrs. El, has the following opinion on the matter: “I think people should be respectful of the flag, no matter what they do. They need to stand for what they believe, but they need to stand for our flag.”

A fact many do not know is that our national anthem was created to show how our flag will still waving after the events of the Battle of Baltimore. [Ed: still more are not aware that the second verse of Francis Scott Key’s song mocks slaves who fought for the British, who had promised them freedom.]

After asking our teachers about the movement, I questioned some students.  “As a military child my mother fights for this country and the rights of the American people. And I read the Constitution, it says that people are allowed to have freedom of protest as long as it’s peaceful and freedom of speech… So if my mother fights for that right. So, if you wanna sit down during the pledge then you go right ahead and do that…” argues a sophomore, Tyler.

While some believe people can protest by kneeling and sitting during the song, another student thought otherwise. “I think that they should be standing during the national anthem with their hand across their chest, instead of kneeling down…personally I think it is disrespectful to kneel down to the song of our country,” he explains.  

I personally agree with both. People do have a right to peacefully protest, but during the song that represents who are country is? Is that needed? My family has fought for this country for generations, some suffering great consequences. I believe every active service member and veterans deserve a moment to honor their sacrifices. What do you believe?