by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The NFL players who kneel during the national anthem — a phenomenon that increased exponentially after President Donald Trump colorfully demanded that they stand — are disrespecting the most potent and enduring national symbol of the most patriotic nation on Earth.
Not only are they wrong to do so, they aren’t delivering the devastating rebuke to Trump that they may imagine.
The power of national — or imperial — symbols isn’t anything new. The Romans couldn’t abide the collective disgrace of losing their standards to the enemy in battle, and would undertake great exertions to win them back.
The American flag is layered with history and meaning. As Tim Marshall recounts in his book A Flag Worth Dying For, its roots probably reach back prior to the country’s independence. It may owe its red and white stripes to the flag of the Sons of Liberty, the revolutionary agitators who carried out the Boston Tea Party. …
… This is why the NFL kneelers are cutting against the American cultural grain, besides picking the wrong target on the merits. The American flag isn’t a Confederate monument — indeed the opposite. Our military fights under it. The flag drapes the caskets of the fallen and is folded in a solemn ceremony at military funerals, with practically every movement fraught with religious and patriotic meaning. It is not to be trifled with — unless you intend to insult the country for which it stands.