“Two dozen NFL players continue to kneel during the National Anthem, showing total disrespect to our Flag & Country. No leadership in NFL!”

Ahhh … another Monday morning accompanied by a tweet from the new authority on the NFL and, presumably, the greatest would-have-been quarterback of our generation — if not for the fact that it would have been harder to dodge the Vietnam draft after posting a 4.2 second 40-yard dash time. Kim Jong Il once claimed to have sunk five aces in a single round of golf, an achievement that will pale in comparison to Donald Trump’s 32-touchdown game, which will probably be announced sometime after Thanksgiving this year — go deep, Mike Pence.

Anyway, where was I? Recently, the kneeling protest of the national anthem has trickled down from the NFL into college football, specifically to Yale, where roughly 15 Bulldog players took a knee on Sept. 23 against Cornell. The increase in the frequency of anthem protests has coincided with harsh criticism and detractors who have called the act the ultimate sign of disrespect to our military and our nation.

Amid the jersey burning and personal NFL boycotts that have been so vehemently voiced, I’ve been searching for a coherent argument on how exactly this peaceful protest has become so utterly debasing to our nation and our military. I still haven’t found one.

Since his first kneel-down, the ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has made his position clear — that this was an effort to stand up against racial inequality. Yale football players Malcolm Dixon ’20 and Devin Moore ’20 echoed that sentiment when approached by the News, saying their act was a response to racism in the criminal justice system. Nowhere, at any point, have any of the hundreds of people who have taken a knee in support of Kaepernick done so with ill will toward United States servicemen and women. In fact, many have voiced unwavering support for our military.

Moreover, when did the national anthem become a song that belongs exclusively to the U.S. military? The anthem represents the United States and all the rights and values our nation stands for. These include freedom of speech and equal protection for all under the law. These now-weekly demonstrations pertain to the dilemma that while these rights are supposed to apply equally to every citizen, there are discrepancies in the ways these rights are implemented for various groups of people. I have nothing but admiration for the heroes of our military, but frankly, kneeling for the anthem does not belittle them.

I also find it ironic that those who have championed this moral crusade against the NFL and criticized its employment of players who kneel for the anthem have never voiced any qualms with others whom the NFL has employed. Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of sexual assault multiple times, former Falcons signal caller Michael Vick was allowed to play again following his prison sentence for malicious dog fighting and former Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy was still employed even after gruesome photos surfaced exposing his domestic abuse of his ex-girlfriend. But Kaepernick and other NFL players should be ripped off the field for a peaceful protest? Interesting.

Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner said it best when questioned about the current situation in the NFL.

“I have not heard one player that has not been more than grateful to our military,” Warner said. “I contemplated: Is it more honorable to stand and face the flag when you don’t represent the ideals of what the flag represents, or is it more honorable to kneel in protest in an attempt to try to accomplish what the flag was designed to represent?”

Glad you asked, Kurt. I unequivocally stand with the kneelers.

Nate Repensky | nathaniel.repensky@yale.edu