To the editor: As a retired military officer, I offer my support to the men who choose to kneel as a protest against racial injustice and police brutality. The National Football League’s decision to fine teams whose players kneel during the national anthem is not about patriotistm; it is about profit.
When I was commissioned into service, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution. I didn’t get to pick and choose which parts of the Constitution or whose rights and freedoms I supported and defended. This included the rights of bigots, white supremacists and others to assemble in the town square, call me a terrible racial slur and tell me that this is not my country.
If I could defend their rights, I can also support the football players who kneel as a protest against racial injustice and police brutality. They are not anti-military, nor are they attacking police officers or advocating violence against them; they are simply standing up (or kneeling, in this case) for their convictions.
Michael E. Waters, Elmore, Ala.
To the editor: As a Christian and a patriot, I have always enjoyed that in this country, we are free to choose if and how we express both our religious beliefs and our patriotism. We can leave forced religious expression and coerced displays of patriotism to countries less secure than ours.
The NFL certainly has the right to set its own rules, but with our freedoms in mind I have the perfect solution for the players wishing to publicly express their thoughts during the national anthem: Kneel — and pray.
Pray for peace, pray for our wonderful country, pray for racial equality, heck, pray for the strength to defeat your opponent — I don’t care. Then let’s see if the NFL fines you for kneeling to display your religious beliefs.
Tom Walker, Costa Mesa
To the editor: In its concluding sentence, The Times Editorial Board suggests a proper solution — unintentionally, to be sure — for the NFL players who refuse to stand for the national anthem. The editorial concedes that protesters will find “some other way to use their celebrity and rich contracts they earn on the field to keep the public focused on the issue.”
Do that, and I'll listen to every word.
I too am angered about the too-frequent police shootings of black people across the country. But there's no need to make a divisive issue out of the national anthem.
James Fulton, Glendale
To the editor: The NFL claims to be supporting fans’ respect for the national anthem by ordering teams to have their players stand for it.
On Monday, professional hockey viewers will see and hear fans in Las Vegas show their disrespect by screaming “Knights!” in the middle of the anthem. Dallas fans scream out “Stars!” and, in the NFL, Kansas City fans scream “Chiefs!” to drown out the anthem’s last word.
Enough of this fake patriotism.
Jeffrey Turkell, Los Angeles
To the editor: The body-camera video showing professional basketball player Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee Bucks getting brutalized by police shows yet again that former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick's peaceful gesture to raise awareness of the brutalizing of African Americans by police is significant and patriotic.
Ryan Lapidus, Los Angeles