Anthem Protests and Weaponizing Free Speech

I find the dichotomy between NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem and the outcry of those offended by such actions to be troubling. I think some of those flag-waving patriots miss the contradiction.

first amendmentThey wrap themselves in a flag, raise the Constitution high in the air, and scream at what they perceive as an attack on America. They would substitute “Free” speech for “Free as long as it doesn’t say anything negative” Speech.

They’ve missed the point.

We have an all-volunteer military. Those who choose to serve, do. Those who choose not to, don’t. Neither choice gives one any more right to free speech or authority to deny freedom of expression to others.

Those who serve deserve our admiration and respect. Veterans put their lives at risk in service to the country. But you do not support those who defend our freedom by denying the exercise of free speech to others.

There is a simple explanation for why the players take these actions. Because it works. The issues they seek to point out exist, despite much denial. Suddenly many Americans are paying attention and, sadly, most are missing the point.

The other side of the story is that taking a knee for the time required to play the national anthem is hardly an act of bravery or conviction. It’s what these players do off the field to change things that matter. I think, from most of them, the best you’re going to get is this two-minute photo-op.

If they had the courage of their convictions, they’d refuse to play. Now that would get someone’s attention.

Which leads me to the Russians. You must admire ole Vladimir Putin. He and his cohorts learned lessons from the Cold War. They know challenging a vibrant, diverse, and innovative America is foolish.

They’d have to change that.

If the latest news is correct, they found a way to turn the best of America into a weapon. By perverting free speech through social media, they undermined the election process. Whether they directly conspired with the current President or not remains to be seen. I think it more likely, and more frightening, that they picked the candidate who offered the best chance for turning American progressivism into chaos and ran with him. They saw an opportunity to derail an unassailable America and set it to tearing itself apart. If the twittering tone-deaf tweets and operational disunity emanating from POTUS, the White House, and Congress is any indication, they succeeded.

The Russians weaponized free speech, pointed it at our hearts, and pulled the trigger.

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