Everyone should see my newsfeed. Sometimes I avoid checking Facebook for days because I know how crazy it will be. I grew up very conservative, so I have a lot of President Trump fans on my feed. I was in the military, so I also have a lot of incredibly patriotic people on my feed. I am also a flaming feminist, so I have a lot of strong, ultra-liberal people on my feed. Because I go to the U, I have a lot of activists and left-sided people on my feed. I’ve been deployed a couple times so I have people that I’ve met from all over the world on my feed. The variety of views I get is astonishing. And I enjoy it. I love seeing everyone’s views.

One of my majors is sociology. I have a passion for people, and as a sociologist I’m accustomed to seeing both sides of issues. Even if I don’t agree with one side, I can still find sound logic in it (usually). I grew up conservative, but I’ve changed my views as I’ve grown into an adult. I believe nothing in life is black and white. That’s why I have such a problem with all this talk about racism, football players and what it means to be an American.

As I was swiping through my timeline, I notice a letter posted from a veteran about how disgusting it is for football players to be taking a knee and about Trump’s recent comments regarding these NFL players. I found it interesting. The author’s words were pretty generic — the same rhetoric you’d expect from someone more conservative. So, I thought I would give my opinion as a liberal veteran.

Some may find this surprising, but I am not offended by an NFL player kneeling during the flag ceremony and let me tell you why. I take pride in knowing I served my country. Although I didn’t always have the most positive experience in the military, I am so grateful for that time in my life. Being a veteran has taught me more about myself than ever. I’ve been able to look back on my time and see everything wrong that happened to me. I’m sure it’s like this in anyone’s late-teens and early-twenties, but my experiences are now just hitting me. I don’t think people can realize how blessed they are until they look back and see a time when they were treated unfairly, and then use that feeling to relate to another person’s life.

I was treated horribly as a woman in the military. I could tell you hundreds of stories about myself and women I’ve served with involving harassment, degradation, sexism and rape. To this day I have no idea how to start the conversation about sexism in the military, and for that matter, the sexism that exists all over the country. But if I learned anything from my experiences, it was empathy: empathy for women, people of color, people with disabilities, the elderly, LGBTQ+ community, etc. We have many fights going on in this country. Now, let me relate this to the NFL players.

These men are using their platform to bring attention to the big issue of racism in our country. They aren’t hurting anyone, they aren’t spewing hate. They are simply trying to start a conversation. They are privileged enough to have an audience, so they are taking advantage of that for good. Whether you agree or disagree with their method, it shouldn’t be taken personally. Instead of being angry at the kneeling players, Americans should ask questions. Why? Why are these players doing this? If we start asking questions before we assume the worst or scream our own opinions, then we could actually start being one nation.

The truth is that there is racism in the country right now. It’s a huge and disgusting issue, and we don’t seem to be doing a lot to fix it. I understand the argument that kneeling during the national anthem is being disrespectful. I’m a veteran who loves this country and is proud to have served. But I served for a country who is supposed to respect all people. Right now, we aren’t that country.

The NFL players aren’t kneeling out of hate, but out of fear. Fear that our country won’t change and work together, that our country will continue to let injustice happen. Fear that our president will continue spewing hateful rhetoric instead of addressing the issues we should be united on. They’re kneeling to bring attention to a group of important people in the U.S., not to disrespect people in uniform. I’m proud to have served and am grateful for the people who sacrificed their lives for our freedom — but they did that so everyone could be free, not just some.

I’m a veteran who can ask the question, “Why?”. And because of this, I don’t find the NFL players kneeling in protest offensive.

letters@dailyutahchronicle.com

5 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Autumn! I, too, am a veteran. I served six years in the Navy. While I no longer have Facebook, I also have a diverse group of friends and colleagues. I also grew up in a very conservative household, and, furthermore, also discovered my own views through open-mindedness. I now tend to identify more with a Libertarian mindset. That said, I served for the rights of the American people. I defended those rights, and now I’m proud that people are taking advantage of those rights and expressing themselves in way they see fit in keeping with the First Amendment.

    I would disagree with you on a couple of exceptions though. One that I wanted to address being that you stated there is racism in the country. I would encourage you to look up statistics on racism. The start of this protest was due to police brutality towards black Americans which started the BLM movement. We only hear about cops who use excessive force against Black Americans because those stories sell on the news. Statistically speaking (according to the FBI website) more white people are brutalized/killed by police than black people per year in both numbers and percentages. So, the real issue that I’d like to see protested is the overuse of escalation of force and the authoritarian state the country has become which forces the police into these situations.

    To sum up, I’d like to use a generic quote: “My rights don’t end where your feelings begin.”

    Thank you for writing this, I enjoyed your viewpoint. I think it is more important than ever that we open up conversations such as this in order to have intellectual debates and see reason in each others arguments.

  2. I am a 100% disabled vet and I find it very disrespectful to kneel during the national anthem. If they want to do this do it on their own time. Like on first down. I bet coaches and owners wouldn’t back that up.

  3. I dont stand against those who kneel….Throughout American history our flag has changed looks, our anthem has changed tunes, and our presidents have changed faces but some things have always remained the same….
    The Flag, the Anthem, and the position of President never represented racial injustice or police brutaility but yet you kneel against these symbols like they were put in place to do so.(Colin Kaepernick)
    Nor was it the Flag, the Anthem, or the position of President to symbolize you can’t stand up (or kneel) for what you believe in, but you kneel in protest against these symbols like they were put in place to do so.(NFL teams to protest against President Trump)
    No, I do not Stand to stand against those who kneel(for ever changing causes).I stand for what these symbols HAVE always represented and WILL always represent, Leadership, Freedom, and the pursuit of Justice to those who threaten this way of life. I will ALWAYS stand for the foundation and principles in which these symbols were raised upon.

  4. Typical communist/feminist propaganda. These NFL stars, who majority are African American, make millions of dollars playing football. We had a black president, so tell me how America is racist? I don’t see these NFL players helping out in the hood to reduce gang violence or promoting blacks to be fathers to their children, these NFL players virtue signal all day without doing anything then go back to their mansions and abandon the people they claimed to be helping. They also have high record of domestic abuse, DUI’s and other crimes.
    As for Veterans they disrespect those who have died while in uniform fighting going back centuries to include those in the civil war who fought to end slavery and thousands of blacks who died in Vietnam and who still die. However it seems to be fine for those entitled NFL players to spit all over that, thanks for you opinion but you seriously need to review your thoughts on things.

  5. Virtue signaling much? “I’m a veteran who can ask the question, “Why?”. And because of this…”, “…as a sociologist I’m accustomed to seeing both sides of issues…”, and “The variety of views I get is astonishing.” are just a few examples. The basis of your argument is that you are better than everyone else and that is why your opinion is right. Which leads to the fatal part of the article, the lack of concrete evidence. I know you don’t “believe anything in life is black and white.” (which is a whole other discussion to have) but that doesn’t mean that you can make claims and hope that people will just believe it because you are a superior person that is able to see both sides of the argument unlike the rest of us lower thinking people that aren’t veterans with the ability to ask why, sociologists, or people that have friends with opposing views. You make flat claims of racism, sexism, and lack of action without citing a single source. That is just lazy journalism. Finally I understand that all of your quotes that I used as virtue signaling examples were meant to increase your ethos as a person with a diverse background but you blew all of that out of the water with your sweeping aside of opposing views. Statements such as: “The author’s words were pretty generic — the same rhetoric you’d expect from someone more conservative.” show that you don’t really try to understand both sides. It shows that you throw all conservative ideas in the same mush and they aren’t even worth mentioning in your article because they are so ridiculous. Also another deadly statement is: “I grew up conservative, but I’ve changed my views as I’ve grown into an adult.” This claim comes across as you out grew the childish ideas of conservatism, that you have surpassed those ideas to the higher plane of liberal thinking. These comments cause your claims at ethos to back fire at you and make you look just like a virtue signaler that is claiming superiority instead of a sincere empathetic/sympathetic writer like you were attempting to do.

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