On kneeling

For many, patriotism has become a competition. According to those who play the game, you are more patriotic if you stand for the national anthem than if you kneel. You get extra patriotic points if you condemn those who kneel and demand that they be fired or kicked out of school or punished.

One argument against those who kneel is that they are being disrespectful. Really? We kneel when we pray, take communion and some men even kneel when they propose.

Another argument is that kneeling is disrespectful to veterans despite kneelers making it clear they are protesting racial injustice. Besides, all of us who served in the armed forces took an oath of enlistment that includes the following phrase: “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States . . .”

Kneelers are exercising their First Amendment rights, and we should recognize their right to do so. On the other hand, dodging the draft, trash talking a Gold Star family and telling a former Vietnam POW he’s not a hero is disrespectful to vets. Of course, we could punish those who don’t stand for the anthem by firing them or disciplining them in some way. (See North Korea or Russia for lessons on how to do that.) However, if standing for the anthem is mandatory, it becomes meaningless. The guy standing next to you may only be standing so he doesn’t get fired from his job. What kind of patriotism is that? Perhaps the most patriotic act of all would be to learn why the kneeling is taking place. Talk with the kneelers. If you agree that racism is a problem, then try to do something about it. If you don’t agree, well, that’s your right. It’s called freedom.

ROGER HART

Storm Lake