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  1. #1
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    Feel Free to Take a Knee

    Feel Free to Take a Knee
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    By Drew Pelto, AKA *censored*

    The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    While the exact right to protest is not specifically named, it is largely covered under the right to peaceably assemble. After all, an assembly of one is still an assembly. As long as the protest remains peaceful as is delineated, there should be no issue.

    And this is why I fail to understand why people are responding so vociferously to protesting during the national anthem.

    There's no rioting. There's no destruction. There's no violence. It doesn't make a sound. It isn't disruptive. But yet, we have seen the response from the disturbed masses.

    You complained over rioting in Los Angeles in 1991. In Ferguson. In Baltimore. You complained about the Black Lives Matter movement. You complained about players' use of the "Hands up, don't shoot" pose when coming onto the field. You cited Martin Luther King Jr. and how he favored non-violent protest over racial issues while conveniently ignoring that he pointed out that "A riot is the language of the unheard." Well, it seems there are plenty who aren't being heard due to an even larger number who are unwilling to listen.

    Protests aren’t there to make you feel good and comfortable. They’re there to make you think. You can either be reactionary and let your baser instincts to demonize those with whom you disagree take over, or you can use it as a moment to stop, to think, to try to understand WHY this protest is happening. This isn’t about hating America, and those who choose to believe it is are only fooling themselves.


    They found acceptable middle ground. So why can't we agree to it?

    Let us also realize that the idea of taking a knee was promoted by a Green Beret. Nate Boyer never played a regular season snap in the NFL, but he was a long snapper for four seasons with the University of Texas and in the Seattle Seahawks’ camp and preseason in 2015. Boyer spent six years in the military from 2004-2010. After witnessing Colin Kaepernick sitting during the national anthem—which was done as a protest against law enforcement’s treatment of civilians of color—Boyer wrote an open letter that didn’t exactly condemn Kaepernick’s actions, but instead tried to understand, express his disagreement with it, and eventually offer an alternative. The two met, talked things out, and Kaepernick accepted his idea. It was later picked up by several other NFL players, as we have seen. If you want to call a Green Beret’s idea to both honor and draw attention to an issue somehow unpatriotic, I think a lot of people would highly disagree with that assertion.

    The most tone-deaf responses that I have seen this week have come from the NASCAR world, where owners Richard Childress and Richard Petty said they would fire any employee who chose to kneel.

    Let’s go back: the point of the protests is to draw attention to law enforcement’s treatment of civilians of color. Most of those who have taken a knee have been those same people in the victimized group. Between the top three levels of NASCAR (the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the "minor-league" Xfinity Series, and the Camping World Truck Series), there are 99 full-time drivers listed on NASCAR’s official website. Of them, only Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. of the Xfinity series is of a racial minority. The last black driver before Wallace, Bill Lester, competed in 145 races from 1999 through 2007. When asked about the owners’ responses to the protests, Lester pointed out to CNN's Brooke Baldwin:

    “[W]hen I came over (to NASCAR), believe me, I was not really embraced. I have been booed, and it was surprising to me because I think that I did a great job behind the wheel… I’ve never made disparaging remarks or offended anybody to my knowledge… When you’re getting booed loud and clear for nothing that you think you deserve, it makes you sit back and take pause.”

    So with this being a protest rooted on the grounds of a racial cause, why exactly are we asking for opinions on the protests from hose involved in this sport?


    Bill Lester, former NASCAR driver

    I can't even agree with the idea that sports are not the time or place for a protest. In your eyes, what is the appropriate time and place? Is it in a place and time where you can choose to ignore it? That accomplishes nothing. And besides, if sports isn't the time or place, then why did it allow the Department of Defense and National guard to pump in several million dollars over the last decade to use players as unwitting tools for recruitment? While it is in vogue to bash Roger Goodell for many things-- and rightfully so in most cases-- at least he is giving multiple sides an opportunity to be seen and heard on this issue and I commend him for that. Sports is not a propaganda tool. If it chooses to allow one side to speak for its cause, it can, it should, and clearly it does allow for multiple sides to do so.

    As a white American from a relatively high socio-economic background, I do consider myself privileged. Sure, my grandfather was an immigrant who never finished high school, worked fifty years underground in copper mines and another twenty farming raspberries, coming over from Finland in 1909 without even having shoes on his feet, but the advantages from something so trivial as skin color are surprising to one who has never had to fight against it. I was lucky to have gone to private high schools my whole life, and also fortunate that my graduating class actually reflected the racial makeup of the Cleveland metro area quite well. I have friends from many different backgrounds: black, white, Hispanic, Asian, straight, gay, bisexual, rich, poor, Christian, atheist, Jewish, Muslim. I may not ever fully understand the plight of minorities that still exists today. But I am willing to listen. I am willing to learn from them and their experiences. I am willing to try to understand where they are coming from. As Dale Hansen stated after everything with Michael Sam, “I don’t understand his world, but I do understand that he is part of mine.”

    It is possible to protest while also being respectful of others. Protests are not meant to be an attack, but rather to draw attention to a perceived injustice. Those who do not want to recognize that are often the ones with the most vehement, vitriolic responses. Those who willfully misunderstand a problem are truly the most ignorant walking among us. You can disagree. That is the beauty of the free world. But you should at least make an effort to discern. No one can ever advance in a positive direction by being unwilling to listen, to learn, to understand.

    “You better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone/For the times they are a-changin’,” warbled Bob Dylan more than fifty years ago. If you are taking a reactionary stance to the protests, please ask yourself why. Are you truly trying to understand your fellow people? Are you willing to adapt to changing times? Or will you choose to drown in your own ignorance?

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Drew Pelto is a Cleveland native who lives in Texas and has family members who fought in World War Two and Korea, including a great-uncle who was killed in 1944 and is buried in the American War Cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands. He stands, but he stands by those who choose to kneel.

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    *censored*- I disagree with the interchangeable usage of the words "protest" and "riot".

    Wikipedia defines "protest" as "a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something."

    Wikipedia defines "riot" as "a violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd."

    Peaceful protest would seem to be covered by the first amendment; rioting is not.

    In my opinion, there is never an excuse for rioting. Too many protests begin as peaceful and evolve into rioting. How many business owners who have nothing to do with the subject of a protest have had their businesses destroyed by rioters?

    It is not okay for those protesting what they view as their rights being trampled on to then trample on the rights of others. In fact, it's the worst type of hypocrisy.

    I find it interesting that Black Lives Matter leaders have no problem blaming Republican leadership for white supremacists but then denying that the violence that occurs during some of their protests to be their responsibility. You can't have it both ways.

    Jesse Jackson is always out in front when there is an injustice suffered by black people. But he has no problem referring to sections of New York as "Hymietown".

    Hypocrite much?

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    You clearly and willfully missed the point if you think that I used the terms protest and riot interchangeably in any way. This is defending the right to take a knee during the national anthem. It is not defending the rioting that took place in Ferguson and other places. I brought those up to say that people were opposed to those and stated that protest should be done peacefully, and now are flipping out over the peaceful protest that they requested.

    Also, I have in no way defended Jesse Jackson at any point, so bringing him up is a completely moot point. Nor is the Republican party, the Democratic party, any political party, or even any politician mentioned anywhere in the article. I frankly am confused as to why you would bring this up unless you are attempting to play some odd little partisan political game where it does not belong..

    In short, your entire response is a giant strawman, and not a particularly good one.

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    Last edited by *censored*; 10-01-2017 at 12:53 AM.

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    *censored*- Sorry, but if the purpose of your article was to talk about the kneeling, which I agree is peaceful protest, and which I personally have no problem with, why the necessity to bring quotes about riots into the discussion?

    As far as I am concerned, whenever people trample the rights of others in attempt to bring their own feelings of unequal treatment to light, they have lost the moral high ground and any sympathy from me and many other people. It makes the people rioting no better than the people they are they opposing.

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  5. #5
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    The reason I brought up the riots was because the response to it was "No, that's wrong, you need to protest peacefully." And rightly so (of course the counter to that would be that if you don't want things being destroyed, then stop taking our lives, but that's neither here nor there and doesn't accomplish anything, so I didn't get into that).

    And so they did the requested peaceful protest via the kneeling, which is being met with a "SWEET JESUS NO, ANYTHING BUT THAT!" by the same group of people who demanded a peaceful protest. Frankly, it is hypocrisy.

    The MLK quote is to show that he wasn't always solely in favor of non-violence the way that some tried to claim. When he said it is "the language of the unheard," I used it to try to show that maybe we all need to do more listening.

    That was my only reason to bring up the rioting: to give a reason as to why the current protest is happening as it is, and to show why I find the response by a significant portion of the public to be so terrible.

    The Dallas Cowboys last week and Baltimore Ravens this week took a knee before the national anthem even started, then proceeded to stand when it began. They were still met with boos. I'm starting to believe the response is no longer about disrespect to the anthem or the flag, but something much deeper and more dangerous.

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    I respectfully disagree with your post, censored. Mainly because you start off talking about the first ammendment. The first ammendment has NOTHING to do with these protests. You have portrayed the players as having a constitutional right to these protests. You are wrong. The stadium is a private venue, and the players are employees of the NFL. You have no 1st ammendment protection in that venue. The NFL has basically allowed these protests, but they do not have to allow them.

    I also argue that the reason(s) for the protests has taken many paths. Colin Kaepernick initially knelt to protest for police brutality and inequality towards the African American community. While I do agree that this country does have racial issues, I think the African American community must somehow solve the issues amongst themselves. There is so much more senseless African American violence against themselves, yet I do not see any protests to rectify that. I agree, at times some police have made very poor decisions. But in every instance the person they were dealing with refused to cooperate/comply. I firmly believe the media hypes this up and gets many people angry. The time to question an officers actions is NOT in the street. It is in Court. Enough of this, but I could go on. ( I say watch the 33 videos of Mr. Bennett who claimed Las Vegas police violated his civil rights. It was all a lie, and he still pushes the issue and will not apologize)


    The fact that the idea for the protest was from a Green Beret makes these
    protests ok is not correct. It is one persons opinion. I respect his opinion but I do not agree with it. My father, uncles and cousins served in the military and they see the protests as a form of disrespect, as do I. I was not in the military, but have worked in law enforcement for 30+ years. Is our country perfect? No. Do we have a president who actively seeks to divide this country? Yes. I think Mr. Trump should leave sports alone and not bring politics into it...but that ship has sailed. I do not support Mr. Trump on really anything, but he is our President whether we like it or not, and we must at least try to show respect. The bottom line is if the protests continue, the NFL will lose a boat load of money. This is a very difficult issue.

    I will leave this discussion with this thought. You have made reference to several employers who stated that they would fire any employee who kneels, and said that this is un-American. I respect your opinion, but I disagree with your opinion, and I am pretty sure the law would support this.

    Now keep in mind, I have been very respectful in my post. That is the way I live my life and have raised my children. I think your response to J-fried was very disrespectful toward his opinion/beliefs. Maybe that is a good starting point for this country, get back to teaching respect. It worked for me and my family...

    My humble opinion: no to the protests during the National Anthem.

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  7. #7
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    Censored, I totally agree with Tom R and JFried1029 but the issue is racism versus honoring the Flag. As a retired veteran they have spit or crapped on me by kneeling for the National Anthem. We have a lot of issues with racism, I agree but we need to do something or they will lose one of the great sports following over something that shouldn't even of started. I have quit watching NFL football because of what I believe on the issue. People have burned season tickets, jerseys, cards etc over this for the stupid acts of people protesting the wrong think. Go back and stand for the National Anthem and push hard for an answer to the racism issues.

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  8. #8
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    I respectfully disagree with your post, censored. Mainly because you start off talking about the first ammendment. The first ammendment has NOTHING to do with these protests. You have portrayed the players as having a constitutional right to these protests. You are wrong. The stadium is a private venue, and the players are employees of the NFL. You have no 1st ammendment protection in that venue. The NFL has basically allowed these protests, but they do not have to allow them.

    They don't have to allow them, but they choose to do so. The government cannot stop the players or the NFL from allowing them. That is where the First Amendment protection comes into play.

    I also argue that the reason(s) for the protests has taken many paths. Colin Kaepernick initially knelt to protest for police brutality and inequality towards the African American community. While I do agree that this country does have racial issues, I think the African American community must somehow solve the issues amongst themselves. There is so much more senseless African American violence against themselves, yet I do not see any protests to rectify that. I agree, at times some police have made very poor decisions. But in every instance the person they were dealing with refused to cooperate/comply. I firmly believe the media hypes this up and gets many people angry. The time to question an officers actions is NOT in the street. It is in Court. Enough of this, but I could go on. ( I say watch the 33 videos of Mr. Bennett who claimed Las Vegas police violated his civil rights. It was all a lie, and he still pushes the issue and will not apologize)

    There's no sense in protesting black-on-black crime because the majority of the population chooses to turn a blind eye toward it because it doesn't affect them. It's been protested for decades. Nothing has changed because the majority isn't hit by it. Police overstepping their authority affects us all. Google Joe Lozito. As for refusing to comply, is someone selling cigarettes untaxed worth strangling to death? If someone returning a BB gun to its proper place in a Walmart worth shooting? There is nothing that gives the police a right to play judge, jury, and executioner. Where's the line between compliance with authority and that authority overstepping their bounds?

    The word "respect" often comes into play here. The problem is those on the side of the police tend to see the phrase "respect me and I'll respect you" as meaning "Treat me as an authority and I'll treat you as a human." That should not be the case. Badges do not-- or at least should not-- grant special rights.

    The fact that the idea for the protest was from a Green Beret makes these
    protests ok is not correct. It is one persons opinion. I respect his opinion but I do not agree with it. My father, uncles and cousins served in the military and they see the protests as a form of disrespect, as do I. I was not in the military, but have worked in law enforcement for 30+ years. Is our country perfect? No. Do we have a president who actively seeks to divide this country? Yes. I think Mr. Trump should leave sports alone and not bring politics into it...but that ship has sailed. I do not support Mr. Trump on really anything, but he is our President whether we like it or not, and we must at least try to show respect. The bottom line is if the protests continue, the NFL will lose a boat load of money. This is a very difficult issue.

    That is a red herring. You want to say Nate Boyer's creation of the kneeling idea is one man's opinion? Fine, but so is that idea of you and your family. I can find just as many military members who support the kneeling idea. Besides, a recent poll (conducted September 30-October 2) of 8000+ members of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America showed that 62% of its members believe professional athletes have a right to protest during games.

    I will leave this discussion with this thought. You have made reference to several employers who stated that they would fire any employee who kneels, and said that this is un-American. I respect your opinion, but I disagree with your opinion, and I am pretty sure the law would support this.

    Where did I call anything un-American? Please show me in detail.

    Also where did I say they shouldn't be allowed to fire employees who kneel? Again, please show me this.

    All I said it was tone deaf and that a sport that is 99% white in its participants really doesn't have a major reason to inject itself into an issue of race.

    Now keep in mind, I have been very respectful in my post. That is the way I live my life and have raised my children. I think your response to J-fried was very disrespectful toward his opinion/beliefs. Maybe that is a good starting point for this country, get back to teaching respect. It worked for me and my family...

    So far, you seem to be the only one who thinks that anything I said was in any way disrespectful considering his response was a gigantic strawman argument that willfully missed the entire point I was making. No admin, no editor, not even JFried himself seemed to find it in any way disrespectful. However, twisting someone's words into something that they never said is the height of disrespect, and so far every comment on my article has done exactly that.

    If standing up for myself and my viewpoint is disrespectful, if fighting for the rights of the people is disrespectful, if fighting against logical fallacies is disrespectful, then I guess that makes me one mean son of a gun in your eyes.

    Instead of tone policing, let's stick to the actual content of the argument.

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    Last edited by *censored*; 10-17-2017 at 11:00 AM.

  9. #9
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    Censored, I totally agree with Tom R and JFried1029 but the issue is racism versus honoring the Flag. As a retired veteran they have spit or crapped on me by kneeling for the National Anthem. We have a lot of issues with racism, I agree but we need to do something or they will lose one of the great sports following over something that shouldn't even of started. I have quit watching NFL football because of what I believe on the issue. People have burned season tickets, jerseys, cards etc over this for the stupid acts of people protesting the wrong think. Go back and stand for the National Anthem and push hard for an answer to the racism issues.

    So what do you propose then? Protests where you can choose to ignore them if you so choose? That will change nothing.

    As I said in my initial post "Protests aren’t there to make you feel good and comfortable. They’re there to make you think. You can either be reactionary and let your baser instincts to demonize those with whom you disagree take over, or you can use it as a moment to stop, to think, to try to understand WHY this protest is happening."

    Clearly a number of people are choosing to do the former and clearly believe athletes are meant to be seen and not heard. Well, they're people too. They have their right, even their duty to make themselves heard. The majority of their employers are pretty clearly okay with this. And again, the IAVA poll shows that 62% of recent military vets are okay with this.

    Sure people have the right to burn whatever they spent their money on but is it really that many? Frankly I'd question the wisdom of anyone who would put that much money into something only to burn it in some political statement that will just make most people shrug and go "okay, whatever dude." I doubt it's that many.

    Let's not forget the media-driven narrative of "everyone" in Cleveland burning their Lebron jerseys. It was incredibly few actually, but it makes for good TV so it got constantly looped and made it seem more widespread. It wouldn't surprise me if this is about the same. But hey, if people want to throw money away, who am I to stop them? I'll gladly take any cards off their hands that they don't want anymore. Even Steelers cards.

    My wife's cousin's husband was one of those who allegedly was boycotting the NFL with the protests. Last weekend he was glued to the TV still. So many are sabre-rattling about how terrible the protests are, making big displays of their boycotts, and then quietly closing the curtains and watching anyway. The number of people at the bar where I typically watch games wearing jerseys and screaming as their team crosses the goal line hasn't changed over the past month. Seems the outrage is overblown.

    The fact that stories like the (badly Photoshopped) image of the Seahawks alleged flag-burning are making the rounds among anti-protest folks is evidence that the anti-protest side has zero moral high ground and will do anything to win against the protest supporters. Anytime a group ends up getting their own credibility called into question via dirty tactics like that is an act of desperation.

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    Last edited by *censored*; 10-17-2017 at 11:09 AM.

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    I appreciated this well-written article, even if I disagreed with much of it, and also appreciated ALL of the replies.

    In regards to the actual issue ... to me, it seems like a non-issue as (a) the kneeling seems senseless as there doesn't seem to be one concrete reason the player's are kneeling; they all seem to be kneeling for individual and varied reasons which makes the whole so-called protest nonsensical, (b) the players do not have a constitutional right to kneel, and (c) I don't understand why anyone actually cares that some athletes are kneeling, it's not as if they are U.S. servicemen, they're just football players.

    Now, to some specific questions for the OP:

    1. Who is the "You" referred to in your fifth paragraph?

    2. You claim the protests are not about "hating America" and that the mysterious ""you" referred to should think about why the protests are happening, but as I said above, the protesters themselves can't even agree on one concrete reason the protests are happening. Likewise ... some of those who agree with the protests do seem to "hate America" ... for example Buccaneers CB Brent Grimes' wife Miko who always refers to America as AmeriKKKa, etc.

    3. You say the protests are to draw attention to law enforcement's treatment of minorities ... but again, that is not why every player is protesting ... and ... one of the reasons people are disgusted by this is because it is actually white's that get shot by cops more often than blacks but no one seems to care ... check out some of the following graphs and charts that illustrate this:

    police_shooting_by_race.0.png race-of-those-killed-by-cops-pie-chart-1.jpg Cb1PJZyW8AAAF2i.png

    4. You stated, "sports is not a propaganda tool" ... I'm sorry but that is simply a very naďve statement. The NFL would fine and punish players for commemorating 9/11 or doing any number of other things but then said they couldn't possibly fine or punish players for kneeling during the anthem ... the NFL is a left-leaning corporation and many people are disgusted by their blatant hypocrisy and double-speak. Likewise, ESPN is extremely left of center and is being used as nothing but political propaganda ... just try to listen to Max Kellerman for a week without hearing a Democratic sermon.

    5. You stated, "No one can ever advance in a positive direction by being unwilling to listen, to learn, to understand." I'm sorry but that is a ridiculous statement. Left-leaning publications like Salon and others have been trying to humanize pedophiles ... should we be willing to listen, learn and understand pedophiles and consider that maybe their life is not so bad? Of course not! There are things that do not deserve to listened to, let alone pondered! And, while protesting during the National anthem is certainly not the same thing as committing a disgusting act against a child, it is extremely offensive to many people who hold the anthem and flag dear, and I imagine that many such people do not think any protest is worth considering if it takes place during their beloved anthem.

    6. You quote Bob Dylan ... many of Dylan's own followers slandered him and treated him horribly when he revealed that he had dedicated is life to Jesus Christ and forsaken many of his old ways ... there's nothing "new" about Biblical Christianity and Dylan's lyrics shouldn't be taken to justify every new protest or thought that comes down the pipe.

    7. You close your article with the following, "Are you willing to adapt to changing times? Or will you choose to drown in your own ignorance?" I'm sorry but that is an extremely patronizing, judgmental and rather absurd two sentences as you are basically saying that everyone who is against the protests or feels the protests are either uncalled for or completely asinine as they are based on lies, is therefore "ignorant". Now, I personally don't mind any peaceful protest and don't care at all if a player like Mariota wants to stay in the locker-room and a player like Sherman wants to take a knee and a player like Malcolm Jenkins wants to raise a fist and a player like Jameis wants to stand with his helmet on his heart ... whatever any of them want to do is A-ok with me ... but ... to say that a patriotic American who disagrees with the protests for one valid reason or another is automatically "ignorant" is absurd and the sort of sermonizing nonsense that Max Kellerman does all the time on ESPN's "First Take" ... it rubs people the wrong way and makes them tune you out.

    In conclusion, I really enjoyed reading the article and the comments and am glad this sort of debate can take place on this website!

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