It would appear that the act of kneeling to protest injustice and brutality, which is about as peaceful a protest as you can get, is now considered a huge slight against American patriotism and/or the entirety of The American Experience.
Nevermind that the star athletes that have been kneeling, including the now infamous Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid, and Michael Bennett, “chose to kneel as a respectful gesture” to the flag and to those who died to protect the liberties of all Americans.
Liberties, that Kaepernick and fellow NFL players are exercising. Kaepernick, who began the demonstration, was moved to protest by the deaths of numerous African Americans by police actions or while in police custody. While Michael Bennett has suffered his own run-in with this kind of violence, after an incident in Las Vegas in which police used excessive force on him before confirming his identity.
These realities seem to have gone over the head of the current administration, when on Friday at a campaign rally in Alabama, Donald Trump accused U.S. athletes who have taken a knee during the national anthem of disrespecting the American Flag.
In a series of two tweets on Friday, Trump wrote, “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
The president is furious about athletes disrespecting the flag and, by extension, the entire country. But what about the ways that the average American citizen disrespects the flag? Twitter user @Koopa_Kinte examined the federal code which was put in place in 1923. It dictates how the flag should be treated. Here are some ways that Americans citizens, and not athletes, have ignored the code:
1. “The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free”: This includes leggings.
2. “The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free”: How very disrespectful and unpatriotic. Get that flag a pole!
3. “The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature”: Just to be clear, this one is an adult film…
4. “It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard”: This includes all 4th of July paraphernalia.
5. “The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever”: Yes, beer counts.