By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
The Super Bowl is in a couple of days, and in all of the more than 50 years that it has been in existence, I don’t believe I ever remember a lower level of enthusiasm for an event that used to be legendary when it came to the passion of the fans. Largely, this has been due to the fall-out over players refusing to stand for the national anthem, and taking a knee instead.
It’s safe to say that most NFL players have not been in the military, because if they had, it’s doubtful that they would have felt the need to express their desire to see changes in America in such a way that can so easily be construed as disrespectful to our military, the ones who ensure the right to protest in the first place.
I for one was heartened that President Trump took such a strong “stand on standing” at his State of the Union speech when he said, “Preston’s (the 12 year old who has made it his passion to put flags and carnations on the graves of veterans) reverence for those who have served our nation reminds us of why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the Pledge of Allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem.” His statement drew strong applause. I realize that because it was a speech that was supposed to demonstrate a measure of statesmanship, he could not say it the way he has on other occasions, but everything from his wording to his body language made it clear that he meant business.
Over the years, I have been transparent with regard to the fact that when I was a “socialista,” I despised the flag because I despised America. If I had been in the NFL, I probably would have led the charge to take a knee during the national anthem, and would have counted on the fact that team owners would have buckled under the pressure of protesting players because they would have never wanted to appear to be “insensitive.”
I have also talked about how much it has meant to me to be forgiven by soldiers for my former idiocy. What it seems that some folks are forgetting is that when a public figure takes a stand on a particular topic, such as standing for the national anthem, it doesn’t mean that one’s right to not comply is somehow now threatened. At the end of the day, soldiers will tell you that they will die for your right to protest, to disagree, to take a knee, to not salute the flag.
My dad gave me the same gift nearly a half-century ago when he told me, “I may not agree with you, but I will fight like h_ _ _ for your right to believe what you want to believe.” I have since made it a very important part of my life to show respect for those who gave me the right to protest, and those who give me the right to be a patriot, and I am happy to politely say, “Please stand.”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner