When I proposed to my wife, I took a knee.
During first Friday Mass in Catholic school, I took a knee.
Spoiler alert! In the most recent season of Game of Thrones, Jon Snow acknowledges Daenerys Targaryen‘s legitimate claim to the Iron Throne when he agrees to “bend the knee.”
(My apologies to anyone who hasn’t binge-watched season 7 yet.)
We’re all aware by now of the kerfuffle over professional athletes choosing to “take a knee” instead of standing during the National Anthem to protest the spate of police shootings of Black Americans.
There is no shortage of outrage in right-wing media about how much pro athletes who protest are paid as if that has anything to do with exercising one’s first amendment right to peacefully redress grievances.
We hear little, though, about the fact that until 2009 players did not take the field until after the anthem was over.
We also never hear boo about the myriad ways in which we inadvertently desecrate the flag every day.
The U.S. Flag Code outlines how Old Glory is supposed to be displayed and maintained.
And it’s pretty clear even the most ardently patriotic among us are in violation of it most of the time.
Section 7(a) of the code makes it pretty clear this is not okay:
“The flag should not be displayed on a float in a parade except from a staff.”
According to section 8(c):
“The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.”
But how many times have we seen this?
Don’t hear too much uproar over that on Fox-so-called News, do we?
“The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.”
You mean like this?
“The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
Does this count as a ceiling?
Remember all those napkins, plates, and cups you bought for the Fourth of July? Pretty patriotic, but also against flag code Section 8(i):
“It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discarded.”
Nowhere does the Flag Code prohibit kneeling.
In 2015, against police chief William Bratton’s request, dozens of New York City police officers protested Mayor Bill de Blasio during services honoring a police officer who was killed in the line of duty.
They did not take a knee. They turned their backs.
Had they knelt, it might have been interpreted as genuflecting before their leader, which likely would have appeared merely bizarre, not rebellious.
According to “Language Log” from the University of Pennsylvania:
“In the early 1980s, ‘take a knee’ started to appear more frequently for situations in which an entire team would kneel, as for a group prayer, a pep talk from the coach, or a similar moment of solidarity.”
Remember how this controversy started.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick originally decided to sit during the anthem, but former Green Beret Nate Boyer reached out and suggested Kaepernick take a knee instead because of its obvious respectful symbolism.
“Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect. When we’re on a patrol, you know, and we go into a security halt, we take a knee, and we pull security.”
Taking a knee is far from disrespectful to the flag, our soldiers, our country.
If anything, it demonstrates the respect one feels for the rights our soldiers fought and died for, paramount being the right to protest.
If they didn’t fight for that right too, what was the point of fighting?
Image credit: dailymail.co.uk