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LETTER: Take a knee, President Trump

Published on October 23, 2017 4:34PM

It has been a year since Colin Kaepernick and others first took a knee during the national anthem before professional football games. This simple but solemn gesture was a non-threatening protest against unequal treatment of African-American citizens by police across the country. Is anyone so naive and gullible to believe that the rash of deadly police/citizen encounters in the past five years were all entirely justified?

These players are well within their First Amendment rights of free expression to take a knee, whether the national anthem is playing or not. There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution, or anywhere else that requires us to stand, remove our hats, and/or salute when Old Glory is going up or the national anthem is being played. Sure, we were all taught these things at home or elementary school, so we have just conformed to do what we are expected to do without giving it much thought. Yes, standing is generally considered to be the “norm” when the national anthem is played; however, some might view this as a form of subtle indoctrination.

At any rate, here comes President Trump who manipulates the situation into something it was never intended to be — you are unpatriotic and disrespectful to our country and service men and women if you do anything other than what I think you should do. Typical superficial and shoot from-the-hip thinking by our president.

The Donald clearly equates military service with patriotism. Then where was Trump when the brutal Vietnam War was raging? He could have volunteered to serve there and fought in the mountains, rice paddies, jungles, streets, or skies of Vietnam.

During an interview, shock jock Howard Stern asked Trump about his lack of military service. Trump responded that “chasing skirts” was just as dangerous as serving in Vietnam because he could catch a sexually transmitted disease. This is a blatant insult to the 58,000-plus American men and women who died there, the hundreds of thousand wounded, many grievously, and those still dealing with unseen psychological wounds from trauma, and all of their families.

Just like Muhammad Ali in his refusal to be drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, and the black-gloved athletes at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, I respect Colin Kaepernick, and the others, who demonstrate moral courage and principle in doing something they sincerely believe in, and not just doing the popular thing.

Bob Shippentower



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