To kneel or

not to kneel

Steve Henry’s Second Thoughts column, which I always enjoy reading, was on the Opinion page of the Herald last Wednesday. But this time I think he went off in the wrong direction. Like many other commentators have been guilty of doing, Mr. Henry mischaracterized the kneeling by some of the NFL players during the playing of the national anthem. Perhaps he was simply following the lead of President Trump in condemning the players’ action, claiming that it is a sign of disrespect for the American flag and of our military. The players themselves insist it is no such thing and there’s no reason to not take them at their word.

The first players to “take a knee” were Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick, who have explained that their actions were motivated by their Christian faith and their concern for social justice. They intended their gesture to be respectful, and they believe it is.

Perhaps a look at other instances of kneeling by professional football players might help put this unwarranted criticism in perspective. When Tim Tebow, the son of Christian missionaries and a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, started kneeling in prayer during games some time ago, he was praised for doing so by many of those who now ridicule the black players for kneeling. Kaepernick is also a Christian, confirmed as a Lutheran in fact, and has pledged to donate to charity $1 million of his 2016 earnings, according to the Washington Post in its Sept. 24 issue.

If Mr. Trump and others who condemn the protest kneeling do so because they think it’s unnecessary to draw attention to the discrimination and injustice long endured in the black community, that would be one thing. They would be wrong, of course. But to claim that it disrespects the flag and military veterans looks like a dishonest attempt to discredit the players’ honest concerns for social justice. Mr. Henry is himself a sincere Christian and therefore should remember the Bible’s urging that we are to strive to put the best construction on the words and actions of our neighbors, including professional football players who are quietly, sincerely, peacefully and patriotically calling our attention to wrongs that need to be put right.

Curt Rohland

Chippewa Falls

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Chippewa Herald editor

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