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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Column: How high should we stand during the national anthem

    The thing about pride is that it’s subjective. You can’t demand that someone have pride in their school football team, you can’t insist they be proud of their hometown and you also can’t dictate how they demonstrate their pride—not if you want a genuine display.

    You can certainly demand that they fake it, but then what is the whole point? Sometimes it feels like this is what the national anthem tradition at sporting events has become.

    That’s not to say that American’s aren’t proud of our country or that we aren’t thankful for our troops, but the whole ceremony has become so routine. When I go to something like a baseball game, I often wonder how many people are actually thinking about the flag and how many people are just waiting to bite into that hotdog on the chair next to them and hear a few bats crack.

    People have many different ways of showing respect and pride and some have very specific reasons why they don’t show it.

    In a nation founded on the principles of free speech, one would think that these differences would be embraced and accepted. Unfortunately, exercising the right to dissent has never been looked at in a good light.

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    The reason I bring all of this up is the recent outcry surrounding San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his refusal to stand during the national anthem. Despite the fact that his actions has not harmed anyone and was, in fact, a very passive protest, people are up in arms over his “un-American” behavior.

    Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Kaepernick’s stance or his actions, the question still stands: Should he be allowed to protest the way he did?

    According to Independence Hall Association, while the United States Flag Code is technically written into law, it’s not an enforceable law. It serves mostly as a guideline for citizens to follow on a voluntary basis rather than a punishable offense. It also happens to state that the flag should not appear on apparel, bedding, napkins, boxes or really anything that isn’t used as a flag.

    Yet people love displaying their American pride with t-shirts, ties, Fourth of July party plates and even underwear. According to the U.S. Flag Code, wearing those American flag boxers is just as disrespectful as not standing for the anthem, but again, people have different ways of showing their pride.

    Americans are also upset because they feel that by not standing, Kaepernick is disrespecting our nation’s troops, police officers, firefighters and anyone else who has given their lives for this country.

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    When you really think about it though, the national anthem and the U.S. flag are really just symbols. They are certainly important and valuable symbols that deserve respect, but the national anthem hasn’t fought overseas, the American flag hasn’t charged into burning buildings or stopped dangerous criminals. People did all of that and continue to do all of that and I believe there are many other, possibly even more genuine, ways of showing respect and appreciation to these people then just standing up before a football game.

    Finally, there is the issue that, although in many ways the National Anthem and the American flag are symbols of what makes this country great, for some people they also represent areas where this country can improve.

    That’s where Colin Kaepernick comes in. According to an article by Steve Wyche, Kaepernick says his reason for sitting during the anthem is that he didn’t want “to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

    Regardless of anyone’s opinions on his statement, I don’t believe his actions are “un-American.” In fact, I believe standing up—or in this case, sitting down— for what you believe in is the most American thing you can do.

    Follow Kaiden Biggs on Twitter.

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