Point Counterpoint: A Right is Not Always Right

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Emogen Kelly

Yorktown’s football team stands for the National Anthem

Nick Warnement, Sentry Reporter

In many other countries across the world, disrespecting the flag is a crime. In America, The national anthem is an extension of the flag; when the flag is raised, you turn to look at it. Flag desecration is a right protected under our constitution, and is a right by all means should be protected. The right to express your disrespect for our flag is a unique American right, based on the very ideals that this country was built on. Americans should be able to protest anything they feel strongly about. However, just because you have the right to do something does not mean you should do it. Just because you have the right to bare arms does not mean you should shoot someone. Just because you have freedom of speech does not mean you should verbally abuse and insult people. A right is not necessarily always right.

There is one obvious reason that kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful: thousands of people have died defending that flag. As a nation, we fought a civil war to preserve that flag. Men and women who caused the African-American community zero harm have fought  and died for that flag. Those same fallen heroes who are trampled over every time someone takes a knee were the same ones fighting for Americans to even have that right. The individual acts of racism and violence that have occurred in our country are horrific and terrifying, but fallen American servicemen had nothing to do with them. Therefore, their memory should not be disrespected for something that you have no idea that if they even condoned.

One of the main reasons that Kaepernick took a knee was to protest police brutality. A racist police officer does not make his fellow officer racist. A couple racist police officers do not make a nation of millions racist. One man cannot speak for another. While those individuals are wrong and should be punished accordingly, their actions do not speak for the people. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality, he implied that the whole nation was at fault for it. In fact, he even said so when he stated, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Kaepernick is doing exactly what he is accusing the entire American public and government of doing: stereotyping. The American public does not condone police brutality towards African-Americans, so there is no reason to protest America. Protest against those specific people. Go to schools and teach children about racism and its effects. Donate money to the victims’ families and to programs that spread awareness. The best way to alleviate racism is to educate. There is a way to protest the heinous crimes of individual police officers without disrespecting our country’s current and past servicemen/woman or offending the innocent public.

No one should be punished for kneeling; they have the right to do so. Those calling for them to be punished, such as President Trump, are entirely wrong. However, those who are questioning the moral effects of their protests are right. Something needs to be done about police brutality, but nothing should ever compromise the memory of the people who died for the rights that the citizens of our great country are given.