I understand that this is a controversial subject, and that my opinion may very well differ from many of the readers of this newspaper. That said, I do not for one minute believe I stand alone in my opinion.
The president seems to believe that football players taking a respectful knee during the national anthem is a reflection on his popularity. The vice president made a very public protest in opposition to the public protest of the football players. I believe it is absolutely clear that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution makes it abundantly clear that every citizen has a right to address perceived injustices in a public forum.
I am upset that the president is trying to turn the protests into disrespect for the flag, the country, the veterans, etc. As a Vietnam War veteran, I know something about disrespecting the military and veterans. I saw true disrespect from nearly the entire country.
When I got home to Nampa, my job, which I was “guaranteed” to be able come back to, had been eliminated. I began applying for jobs, but as a Vietnam veteran, I was assumed to be unstable and a threat to those around me.
I lived through the '60s. I hid my head under my desk during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I heard the stories of people being abused based on skin color. I heard speeches by the likes of George Wallace. I saw the television coverage of the racist attacks on our citizens. I cheered at the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act!
I grew up in Idaho. I had virtually no interaction with people of other races until I was in the military. We fought side-by-side. I can assure you, bullets and bombs do not recognize race, religion or skin color.
I hate that I am hearing statements and many of the same biases I thought were long gone in America. The vast majority of law enforcement officers are simply doing their job and a difficult job it is. However, a small number seem to have become emboldened by the attitudes of racism that are having a rebirth. It is appalling to see people beaten and killed for no other reason than skin color or religion.
The First Amendment guarantees that free speech is a right for every American. No one can stop free speech without violating one of the basic rules of freedom in our republic. Everyone is free to practice any religion or none. Skin color, race or poverty cannot be factors that incite abuse of individuals.
When people see injustice, it is their right, nay, their responsibility, to speak out against that injustice, until they are heard, and justice reigns! Some complain the football players are doing their protesting during time they are on the job. The vice president staged a very public protest at a football game while on the salary and expense account of the American taxpayer!
No American can be forced to display fealty to any creed or symbol of authority. For the president to proclaim that speaking out against injustice cannot be tolerated is not presidential. It verges on something other than freedom. As a veteran who fought for the Constitution and the rights of Americans, I fully support any group who wants to bring attention to a situation where an injustice exists. Taking a respectful knee is not disrespecting anyone or anything. Just as throwing tea into Boston Harbor was not about disrespect; that too was about injustice. Seeking to redress injustice is endemic to Americans and must be given an ear by those who wield the power of law.