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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/27/18

NFL Moves to Punish Players for Taking a Knee: Enforced Patriotism for a Criminal System Must NOT Be Allowed to Stand!

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On May 24 the National Football League (NFL) owners voted that their property (a.k.a. the "players") must "stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem." Players can sit out the anthem in the locker room, but those on the field who take a knee won't be allowed to play in the game, and their teams will be fined. This wasn't enough for Donald Trump, who threatened protesting players, "You have to stand proudly for the National Anthem, or you shouldn't be playing; you shouldn't be there. Maybe they shouldn't be in the country..."

Respect the Flag? No Way!

The U.S. flag is soaked with the blood of literally billions of people who have been killed, tortured, and brutally exploited by the U.S. around the world, from the days of slavery and genocide of native people up to today. The anthem and flag celebrate a capitalist-imperialist system of global horrors: wanton murder and brutality by pigs" incarceration of millions" mass deportations" unjust wars, slaughter, and occupations in countless countries over many decades. They represent the mounting U.S. nuclear threats right now against tens of millions of people in Korea and Iran, and all humanity.

Why should anyone respect this rag? It needs to be disrespected a hell of a lot more!

It was damn righteous for Colin Kaepernick to refuse to stand for the anthem, against what he called out as "systemic oppression, specifically police brutality against Black and Brown people." It compelled other NFL players, overwhelmingly Black, but some white players as well, to take a knee--and inspired people across the U.S. and across the world. A whole lot more of this is needed, at sports events and everywhere!

An Orgy of Enforced Patriotism

Protesting players are told that the football field is "not the place for political statements." Bullshit. There's plenty of reactionary, imperialist politics at NFL games: American flags the size of the field, flyovers by fighter jets, players wearing camouflage uniforms to "salute the troops," the Department of "Defense" paying teams to have military personnel seated prominently to get maximum air time.

Kaepernick and other protesting players brought in politics that exposed some of the reality of what this country is all about and expressed their opposition to it. Whatever their individual intentions, their actions punctured the suffocating flag-waving worship of the U.S. and its war machine (a.k.a. "our troops") that poisons every pro football game, and has for years. The NFL and the powers behind them are lashing back--Colin Kaepernick and another protesting player, Eric Reid, both at the peak of their abilities, have been blackballed by the league.

This Ban Must Not Stand!

This battle is not over. Several players have already blasted the owners' decision and Trump's threats. Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos called Trump's remark "disgusting because of our First Amendment rights. We have freedom of speech, right? Freedom to protest?"

Everyone who cares about humanity should not only support the players who refuse to stand for the U.S. flag and anthem--they should do the same, and let the world know why! A criminal system that perpetrates horrors on people here and worldwide, then demands absolute obedience and slavish acceptance, deserves absolutely no respect. In fact, it needs to be overthrown.

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