One of the more interesting twists in the ongoing debate about the NFL’s National Anthem protests is the reaction that the protests incite from the right and the left.
On the right, some folks (including the President) have implied that the players shouldn’t have the right to protest the Anthem during the games. On the left, some have implied that folks on the right have no right to get so upset about the Anthem protests.
It’s an odd dichotomy and there has been more than a little hypocrisy from both sides of the debate. Which is why it’s sometimes helpful to remember that many of the arguments being delivered on both sides of the debate can have elements of truth to them.
Our friend Tim Dukeman recently detailed some of the dueling elements of the debate that are true even if we don’t like them.
One of my favorite games to play is “All These Things Can Be True.”
Here’s the latest version:
- The NFL players have a right not to be forced to honor the flag and the national anthem.
- The owners have a right to fire players who protest the national anthem (because the players don’t face a binary choice between honoring the flag and protesting it).
- America should value free expression in both the law and the culture.
- Valuing free expression doesn’t entail that we have to tolerate political activism/protests in areas of public life that we’re supposed to be able to share in common.
- President Trump has an obligation not to use his office to chill political expression and free speech.
- No fair reading of Trump’s comments about anthem protesters produces the conclusion that he was threatening to use government power to punish the NFL, or its players or coaches.
- Colin Kaepernick doesn’t think his protest is offensive or disrespectful to the flag or the national anthem, and he’s taken steps to try to protest in a less offensive way.
- He conducts his protest during the national anthem, so reasonable people are concluding that he is protesting the anthem, especially in light of his railing condemnations of America for “systemic racism.” Honoring the flag and the anthem is basically the mildest possible expression of patriotism, so it’s hard to conclude that people who refuse to show the slightest amount of patriotism don’t hate America, especially when they spend all their time calling our country “racist.”
Remember, just because your debate opponent makes an argument that you don’t like, it doesn’t immediately make their point wrong. It’s not helpful to simply dismiss everything your opponent says out of hand. However, even if they’re right about a specific point that they’re making, it doesn’t mean they are also right about the overall debate.
The NFL players have every right to protest against the “injustices” they believe exist in our nation today, and we have every right to disagree with them and to show them that we disagree by refusing to support their profession.
We call this freedom. Enjoy it.