Police brutality might be a problem, but it is deeply ironic that people whose freedom of speech and protest comes from their American citizenship are using those freedoms to disrespect America. The fact that America is a free country, where someone can speak out against the government in a public setting by disrespecting such an important symbol of the country shows how many freedoms have already been afforded to the American people. It shows how much all Americans owe to their government and country. The American flag doesn’t just represent the racists and bigots that make up a small portion of Americans. The national anthem was written during the War of 1812, and the American flag was first commissioned for the Revolutionary War. During the Civil War, it represented the hope that the country could unite once again. The original flag itself survived multiple instances of defacing to emerge as the united, untattered symbol of America. The flag and anthem’s very origin is about protecting the country, liberty, and freedom. This is a principle and an ideal worthy of respect, especially for the people who enjoy America’s liberty every day. In addition, the waving of the flag before football games is meant to celebrate the veterans of American wars. These are people who never meant for racism to happen in their countries and who had nothing to do with the police brutality in the country. Kneeling during pre-game anthems disrespects the veterans who have fought hard for America, and that is unacceptable.
What the American flag means to different people should be self-defined. Some people see the American flag as a representation of their veteran family members, of the countries and values that they respect, and of the country they believe has protected them. But just as everyone feels different emotions after hearing the national anthem play, everyone can have different responses to the pre-game ceremony. Even Drew Brees, the original footballer who made the comments about the irony of using liberty to complain about a lack of liberty, apologized and realized how insensitive his comments were. In a country where a black person walking down a street is three times more likely to be killed by police than a white person, and where 98.3% of killings by police from 2013-2020 have resulted in the officer not being charged for the crime, it is completely fair for Kaepernick and others to see police violence as the most important issue in America that must be protested. How one interacts with the symbols of a country is their own choice, and Kaepernick had every right to not see his country as one that he respected.
[P1] The American flag and anthem represent the struggle for American liberty and the individuals who have fought to protect the country. [P2] No one who enjoys living in the country should ever disrespect the American flag.
Rejecting the premises
[Rejecting P1] What the American flag and anthem represent is up to individual interpretation. [Rejecting P2] Police violence has been bad enough to fully justify disrespect of the flag.