“Land of the Free” – Let’s Keep it that Way

O. say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Thus ends our national anthem. It has been long standing tradition in our country to include the singing of our national anthem before athletic events. Included in that tradition is the habit of the competitors, and the fans, to stand during its performance as a gesture of honor and respect to our nation.

Of late, there has been a growing trend for some to abstain from that particular show of respect. Rather, as a form of protest they remain seated or they “take a knee.” They choose to protest in this way because they believe the freedom the song celebrates, falls short in reality. They perceive themselves to be discriminated against. They question why they should stand in honor of freedom while they themselves feel shackled by discrimination, racism, and prejudice. They believe we can and should do better than we are currently doing.

I do not wish to enter the debate about whether or not they are right or whether or not their chosen form of protest is appropriate. Rather, I wish to address the response to their protest. I expect and understand people being in disagreement. I get it that people are upset about this. However, it goes further than that. I have read the suggestion that those who protest in this manner should be expelled from the country. I’ve read the suggestion that those who protest in this manner should be punished. There was even a new story of a pee wee football team (11 year-olds) choosing to “take a knee” rather than stand, and then receiving death threats for doing so. Even without the death threats, this is going too far.

Do we really want to find ourselves in a situation where we love freedom so much that we want to dictate a person’s posture when we sing about freedom? If we expel, or punish, or in any other way prohibit forms of protest that we don’t agree with, then we will find ourselves in a nation where the Star-Spangled Banner still waves, but it won’t be the land of the free, o’er which it waves.

That’s something to cerebrate.

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