Stop Using Military Service Members as Props to Criticize Protests

During a campaign rally in Alabama on September 23, President Donald Trump used derogatory rhetoric to refer to the #TakeAKnee protesters. Trump continued his criticism on Twitter, declaring that protesting not only disrespected the anthem, but also the flag and the country.

Starting with the first game on NFL Sunday during the third week of the season, several teams and, in some cases, the owners, participated in their own #TakeAKnee protests as a show of solidarity. By the end of the weekend, Trump’s conservative base was incensed on social media about the “ungrateful black millionaires” were also disrespecting the men and women who served in the military.

It had become obvious the point had long been missed.

Evoking the service of the military has become the go-to retort on the right to express criticism of any protest from the left. The trend is not new and is, in part, an over correction of the protests soldiers found waiting for them when returning from the Vietnam war. Many anti-war protestors blamed them for the atrocities that had occurred as much as the government that ordered their deployment.

Yet these protests are not about war — or the flag or the military. They are about specific social justice issues. Like the protests that led to the Black Lives Matter movement, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid were trying to bring attention the extra-judicial killings of unarmed black men, women, and children by police officers. Nevertheless, do members of the military really see kneeling during the national anthem an insult to their service?

Dan, an Air Force veteran from North Carolina admitted he was a bit dismissive about Kaepernick’s protest at first back in 2016, seeing it as “showboating” for attention.

“But after learning of his cause, I understood and respected him and his courage. I also felt and feel saddened that there has to be such a protest,” he wrote via email in response to questions about the controversy.

Dan, who is white, also noted how Trump and his supporters missed the point by making this about the anthem and the flag, perhaps not by accident.

“I’m not sure why professional sports have anything to do with patriotism or military service, or why the national anthem is even a part of the game. I can understand why national anthems are played at international games. But, I believe that to not protest and to not speak out against grotesque injustices committed by government officials is an insult to the flag and to military service. The flag stands for liberty and justice for all.”

Terry, a 26-year veteran of the Air Force who comes from an African-American family with a long history of serving in the armed forces, noted via email, “When I stood up, raised my right hand and took the Oath of Enlistment I swore/affirmed that I would support and defend the Constitution of the United States. I firmly believe it is an individual’s right to protest in the way they choose to protest, as long as it’s peaceful. Our constitution addresses the right to protest and nowhere in it will you find anything about not standing, sitting, kneeling etc. for the national anthem. Most of the one percenters (those who serve/served in the armed forces), whether they agree with the cause or not acknowledge that right to protest.”

It was this sentiment echoed across social media under the #TakeAKnee hashtag by active duty military and veterans. Many posted photos of themselves kneeling in solidarity, noting that their service was in defense of the right to protest. With few exceptions, military members viewed using their service to criticize Americans for exercising their rights as the real insult.

It remains to be seen if more NFL players will continue the movement started by Colin Kaepernick, now a free agent who has been shut out of the league by the owners this season. Though there are signs that at least some players are ready to take the ball and run. In August, four NFL players wrote to the commissioner asking for a month dedicated to social activism.

Much like the league already does with breast cancer awareness and honoring military service, they would like the month of November to be the time to highlight the need to address social issues that affect our country. There is also a petition circling for fans to express their support.



Peggy B
Peggy B4 months ago


Elaine W
Elaine W4 months ago

The right to protest is a freedom my husband and also my father fought for with their live at risk.

Rudica R
Rudica R4 months ago

if you support the right for the players or anyone to kneel you can send comment to . This is not North Korea we are not dictated to

Belinda Lang
Belinda Lang4 months ago

As long as people protest peacefully they can choose the way they want to protest. Even burning the flag is constitutional.

Philippa P
Philippa Powers4 months ago


Rhoberta E
Rhoberta E4 months ago

david f
You mean like trump and family manufacture overseas for cheap labour?

David F
David F4 months ago

John C. economics 101. Corporations should have zero income tax. Taxes should be leveled on consumption (like sales tax) and never used as a disincentive to create wealth.
Corporate tax is nothing more than a government scheme to acquire wealth from the common people without them recognizing what they are paying.

If Congress wants, they can tax the hell out of the US companies much to the delight of the rest of the planets manufacturing companies, what will that do?

Corporations just pass on the tax, they do not pay tax, the consumer pays.
Unless a company is singled out from its competitors, which should not happen, they all compete on a level tax field therefore Corporations really don't care about the tax unless they need to compete with corporations from other countries. Countries (the other 95% of the planet) that our congress, president and voters have no power to tax. (about everything that is drilled and manufactured).

Michele B
Michele B4 months ago

disgusting, unacceptable behavior

john c
john c4 months ago

John C. - Continuation -
"due to giving TAX BREAKS to the WEALTHY and taking it away from social programs such as EDUCATION". So, believe in your world of fantasy, but don't believe your comments are influencing people of intelligence with your rhetorical
John C./Houston, Tx.

john c
john c4 months ago

David F. - Enough of you and Trumpfs BULL SHIT. Your claim about hidden corporate taxes is false. Any company and/or corporation making products overseas (especially in China, which in case you didn't know is a Communist country who control prices, subsidies, hourly wages and everything else) do it for their bottom line or maximizing profits. That's why the Trumpf family do it, all the while lying about making 'AMERICA GREAT AGAIN", it was great before your IDOL, TRUMPF bull shitted his way to becoming the POTUS. Also. the so called TAX REFORM. if you have any knowledge of ECONOMICS, has been tried by many a Republican President, such as President Reagan who tried the 'TRICKLE DOWN FORMULA' and after it went into effect had to RAISE TAXES - E L E V E N times, because it did not work. Also, out of the top Fortune 500 Companies, approximately 10 to 15 pay NO TAXES and the balance end up paying less then 15%, and don't say that it is for the benefit of the smaller companies with less then 20 employees or that it will benefit the "middle class" who in reality will end up with maybe $ 1500/2000 additional (Cohen says that it is even less probably $ 1000). Also, in case you were unaware, not that the truth matters to people such as yourself, this TRICKLE DOWN EFFECT, has been a research test for the state of Kansas, by the
Republican Party, which is now literally on the verge of bankruptcy, due to giving TAX BREAKS to WEALTHY and