Our kids need to know the difference between protesting and disrespect. They can protest by not eating broccoli, but they should never disrespect their mother and/or father by telling them they are terrible parents for serving it.
Protesting is a right. Disrespecting is a choice made through hate. I think the most effective protests do not involve disrespecting. It seems some people don’t know the difference between protesting and disrespecting. Or maybe they do.
- To protest is to express an objection or disapproval. A right everyone should have.
- Respect, by one definition, is to hold something or someone in esteem or honor e.g. your country or parents.
- Disrespect is showing discourtesy, rudeness towards something or someone.
When, in someone’s mind, an injustice has taken place, it is the right of a citizen to protest. In the US this is one of the stalwarts of our democracy. Whether or not you are correct in your view of the facts or the particulars of the potential injustice does not matter. Your protest raises the visibility of your objections and the particular society involved will be, in large, convinced or not. Protests and the right to be heard (free speech) is what made the US such a strong country and a force in the world.
We all protest something or other. Usually it is in quiet conversations with friends or acquaintances. We can protest through voting or boycotting. Other times a protest is organized with speeches, marches, and/or signs. These types of communications are all good. Sometimes a protest will get our attention and we join in. Other times a protest will make us angry because we disagree with the protester or believe the facts are being misconstrued. Nothing wrong with either reaction as long as we are respectful.
Now let’s discuss disrespect. Most of us hold certain things and ideals with respect. Of course, one of those is the right to protest. Others include respect for the right to privacy, the right to vote, the pursuit of happiness, and to be treated with respect. Too often with protests disrespect creeps in - and sometimes storms in, belittling the protest and what it stands for.
Common protests these days are about 1) police shootings and, 2) preventing someone’s right to speak about something with which you may disagree. In the first scenario, protests resulting from police shootings are an understandable protest when one thinks an injustice has taken place. But when violence and/or vandalism takes place, it is no longer a protest but an act of disrespect for the law and the private property of people and businesses.
In the second scenario, demonstrations like those at U.C. Berkeley, attempting and sometimes succeeding in preventing someone from speaking is disrespect for our First Amendment. These type of demonstrations at UC Berkeley are not a protest, it is a civil disturbance. To show your displeasure with ideas is fair and your First Amendment right. Preventing those with alternative views from speaking - at all - is not a protest, it is disrespect in the highest order of our democratic way of life.
This brings me to the NFL and why the actions of their players, by kneeling or sitting during our National Anthem, is disrespectful and not simply an act of protest.
First of all, when NFL players kneel in their team uniform, they are doing so using a platform they don’t own. If a team owner supports a certain protest and every team member agrees in that protest, then they can protest in that uniform. Otherwise, they do not have the right to drag the team’s uniform into it. They are disrespecting the team ownership and the fans who do not agree with them. When Jerry Jones kneeled with his team, he owned the act, he gave his permission to his players as their boss. Another owner may not appreciate his logo being used to give weight to their opinions.
Secondly, the Flag and National Anthem. When is kneeling during the National Anthem a protest and when is it a show of disrespect? The US Flag and National Anthem represent the totality of the United States of America, both its’ glories and its’ warts. If you demonstrate by not honoring the US Flag, you are generalizing and saying the totality of the US is at fault and/or immoral. And by logical extension, you are also disrespecting all those who sacrificed life and limb to support it. Protest a specific flaw, but don’t vilify the entire history of America. If you truly believe the US is utterly flawed, not valuing the life you have ‘earned’, and sometimes been given, then it is truly is a protest against the American way of life. But you have made a serious charge that I don’t think most intend to make.
We know that early settlers took away lands belonging to Native American Indian nations. We know slavery existed for many years and was evil. We know women were not allowed to vote until the 1900’s. Yet, the US overcame these and other things because of the nature of our people under this constitution. Our early mistreatment of Native Indians is a flaw that remains. But this behavior is not unique to America. It started in the annals of the Old Testament. Eventually, slavery became unlawful, women rightly got to vote, and desegregation was ended by the citizens – because of the principles of our country. The US also helped Europe defeat the Nazis of Germany, helped stop the slaughter of Chinese by Imperial Japan, and provides more disaster and humanitarian relief to other countries in need than all the other countries combined.
Yes, the US is a flawed nation among all other flawed nations. In my mind, it is the least flawed nation. The US Flag represents the totality of our nation and to disrespect it is like disowning your little daughter because she bit her brother. She has a flaw in her behavior but you don’t give up on her.
Understand that ISIS, and individuals in countries that don’t respect the US, can burn our flag without being hypocritical. They are expressing an objection or disapproval, i.e. protesting, to the totality of our way of life. But to accept our way of life, yet use the National Anthem as a place to demonstrate your unhappiness of a specific incident or incidents, is very disrespectful and hypocritical.
Protesting is a right that is honorable when done with respect for others and their opinions. I repeat, to denigrate the flag or National Anthem for a specific grievance ignores every positive aspect, privilege, and opportunity of being an American. If you appreciate the freedoms and rights you have as an American, and honor those who fought and died for these ideals, then kneeling for the National Anthem is thoroughly and embarrassingly disrespectful.