Opinion: Kneeling for The Pledge and the Anthem Is Misguided and Ineffective


Hillary Clinton recently reminded Americans why she should never be the president of the United States.

On Wednesday, Clinton endorsed an 11-year-old Maryland student who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in her sixth-grade classroom. The former presidential candidate commended this behavior and tweeted her support: “It takes courage to exercise your right to protest injustice, especially when you’re 11! Keep up the good work Mariana.”

The act of kneeling for the pledge or the national anthem is a fairly recent phenomenon that is gaining more traction.

Recently, former NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar compared the national anthem to songs that were sung by slaves while they were forced to work.

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“Slaves are generally expected to sing as well as to work,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote, adding slaves had to sing their “oppressor’s feel-good songs” as well.” Abdul-Jabbar further noted that the “Star-Spangled Banner” is the song that President Donald Trump — the oppressor — is demanding to be sung.

The Star-Spangled Banner has been the national anthem since 1931. Kids have been reciting it (and/or the Pledge of Allegiance) in schools for a long time, and it has been the musical preamble to many of the nation’s sporting events for decades. Why, then, did people wait until now to protest, or to encourage others to protest in this manner? According to Clinton, kneeling is “used to demonstrate in a peaceful way against racism and injustice in our criminal system.”

The trouble with this position is glaringly obvious. The act of kneeling has absolutely nothing to do with rectifying any alleged injustice in the criminal justice system. Clinton’s logic appears to incorrectly suggest that kneeling will lead to some sort of swift corrective action relating to injustice.

In reality, all it is doing is hurting the players and the leagues they play for. By kneeling, the “kneelers” reflect a lack of patriotism and respect for our flag and for those who fought for the freedoms that we enjoy.

Do you think kneeling for the pledge or the anthem is an ineffective way to protest?

Some who “kneel” claim that they are doing so in solidarity to protest inequality and injustice around the country. According to Abdul-Jabbar, “lyrics like ‘land of the free’ don’t accurately represent the daily reality for people of color. They love their country but want that country to recognize the suffering that occurs when it isn’t living up to its constitutional promises.”

Isn’t it the “land of the free” that allows these players to play a sport they love and to make millions of dollars per season? Doesn’t the “land of the free” they are protesting against currently have some of the lowest unemployment rates?

According to a recent CNN article, “(a)s the overall unemployment rate continues to fall — the lowest since 2000 — it’s also shrinking the gap between black and white unemployment. It is the narrowest on record. Black unemployment dropped sharply last month, down from 6.6% in April. The gap between black and white unemployment shrank to 2.4 percentage points, the first time on record it’s been less than 3 points.”

Abdul-Jabbar doesn’t appear to address these specific issues.

Rather, by comparing the national anthem to songs of slavery, Abdul-Jabbar makes an analogy that is not only nonsensical but painful and offensive. Nobody denies the fact that inequality still sadly exists. However, to compare the act of singing the national anthem to songs of slavery is incredibly misguided.

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For one, and contrary to Abdul-Jabbar’s claim, the president (whom he refers to as the “oppressor”) is not demanding that players sing the Star-Spangled Banner. Rather, he insists that they stand to show patriotism and respect. Second, players have stood for the Star-Spangled Banner for many years, so insisting that they continue to do so is not “oppressive,” but the continuation of a long-standing tradition.

Moreover, and more fundamentally, slaves were not given many choices. For example, when the Jews were slaves in Egypt, they did what they were told or suffered the consequences associated with disobedience (sometimes with their lives). They weren’t being paid millions of dollars. They weren’t free to leave (the field) if, and when, they wanted. They didn’t live in big homes and take glamorous vacations. They certainly didn’t have any negotiating power.

Here, the players and those who choose to kneel have other options. They can stand without reciting the words. They can hold a rally at a venue of their choosing that is not on game day or in the classroom. They can lead a peaceful march. They can also meet with the president or their local/national political leaders and discuss their concerns. The fact that they have options shows the absurdity of Abdul-Jabbar’s comparison.

Sometimes, having the right to do something does not mean that it is the right thing to do. In this case, people have the right to kneel if they so choose. However, kneeling is not the right thing to do. Luckily, we live in a free society where people can seek and promote change in a variety of lawful ways.

In this case, another method would be more respectful and, probably, more effective.

Elad Hakim Hakim is a writer and a practicing attorney. His articles have been published in American Thinker, World Net Daily, Sun-Sentinel, and other online publications. 

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Elad Hakim is a writer, commentator and attorney. His articles have been published in the Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Western Journal, American Thinker and other online publications.