Protect people, not pride: Anthem protest spreads to high schools


MCT Photo

San Francisco 49ers’ Eli Harold, Colin Kaepernick, and Eric Reid kneel during the national anthem before their NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sun. Oct. 2. This form of protest has spread among professional and high school athletes as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. These acts have been criticized for disrespecting the anthem.

Jenna Bao, Associate Editor

In the weeks since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting at sporting events by kneeling during the national anthem, his controversial actions have inspired other athletes, including high school students across the country.
His protest is related to the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality.
Recently, the Cincinnati Winthrow High School football team’s members have kneeled or raised their fists in peaceful protest during the anthem in matches against Loveland and Anderson.
Cincinnati Public Schools has discouraged such action among its athletes, but has released a statement saying that it will not punish anyone exercising free speech by participating.
“I guess if high school students feel strongly about current issues, they should be able to protest,” said Alec Bertok, 11.
What has surprised me, however, is the significant backlash these protesters face. Now certainly, the BLM movement has always been somewhat controversial, as all modern race relations are.
Critics have called this protest “disrespectful” or “disgraceful” towards veterans and the men and women working to protect our nation and our liberties (one of which is the right to protest, but I digress).
And yet, frankly, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is just a song. Sure it has symbolic significance, but at the end of the day it is just a handful of chords and lyrics that not enough people actually know.
True, I am far from the most patriotic citizen of this fine country, but I find that the sacrifice and bravery of our troops are reflected in infinitely more worthy things than an anthem-things like freedom of speech and equality.
“I think he’s just trying to get his point heard, and protests aren’t supposed to make people comfortable anyway,” Bertok said.
Besides, students and professionals alike are neither protesting against the veterans nor American values, but the protection of these values for all, and I personally do not see how the anthem is the issue here.
If one is able to appreciate the real purpose of these actions rather than the attention-grabber at the surface, the intent should be obvious.
“These young guys are paying attention and know about the world they live in…I’m a veteran, and I am not offended by what they’re doing. They’re expressing their First Amendment right to free speech,” said Bill Jones, Winthrow alum to the “Cincinnati Enquirer.
American greatness is not built on a song, it is built on the people that choose to shape it, and it is people that are being senselessly killed, and people that this protest are trying to save.