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Letters: The national anthem and dissent

New England Patriots hold hands and kneel during

New England Patriots hold hands and kneel during the national anthem before a home game on Sept. 24. Credit: JOHN CETRINO/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutter / JOHN CETRINO/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Your June 6 news story “In D.C., it’s strictly political football” says the issue is about “athletes protesting the national anthem.”

This is false and misleading. The athletes are protesting during the national anthem; what they are protesting is the unfair treatment of African-Americans by law enforcement. I hope that in the future, Newsday will describe the issue with more accuracy.

Kathy Giaimo,Brooklyn

It is useful to restate the First Amendment’s declaration about freedom of speech: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech . . .” This clearly limits the power of the government, not private employers, which can establish rules for the workplace. One might disagree with the NFL, but it clearly has the right to impose workplace requirements.

Barry Cohen,

Woodmere

President Donald Trump and Rep. Peter King are right that players should stand for the national anthem in the way we were brought up to do. If professional football players take a knee, it sends a message of “Go to hell” to the USA, our anthem and our flag. It’s total disrespect and wrong. Such moments are the wrong time to protest. As a Vietnam veteran, I recall 58,000 U.S. soldiers who died in that war defending our flag and country.

Tony Guardino,

Bay Shore

As a Vietnam veteran, I find the president’s position vis-a-vis the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles incredibly hypocritical. Here, a shameless draft-dodger demands that all players stop being socially and racially conscious and honor our flag and our veterans in his own shamelessly phony manner.

Now President Donald Trump has his political twin, Rudy Giuliani, to distract from the threatening Russia investigation. Giuliani is another draft avoider who, like Trump, pretends to be a macho supporter of all veterans.

Bravo to all those Eagles and all pro athletes who have a one-word answer for President Trump: no.

Michael J. Gorman,

Whitestone

Often we read about black men being shot by police or being beaten, kicked in the head, often while in handcuffs. So, when players protest these atrocities by taking a knee during the anthem, one might think that their gesture would be called selfless and compassionate. But instead, it has fueled a national controversy.

Of course, refusing to stand for the anthem can be seen as disrespectful, especially when the president calls these athletes “sons of bitches” and unpatriotic.

Instead, I suggest that an athlete could wear the name of a victim on his jersey. This also could protest and raise awareness of pervasive racism and police brutality. It also would attach real names to these atrocities. Not even the president could turn that truly poignant tribute into something it isn’t.

John A. Black,

Centerport

NFL owners have atypically introduced their personal political views into the workplace by wrapping themselves in the flag. The players are merely exercising a like prerogative. Those who protest are not interfering with anyone’s right to hear the anthem or the NFL’s gambit to portray its owners as patriots. The players’ actions are well within the bounds of our proud tradition of dissent. That the protest offends some fans’ sense of patriotism is a price we pay in a free society. Neither they nor Rep. Peter King nor President Donald Trump gets to define patriotism for the rest of us.

Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues asserted that the people not only may — but must — transform or even replace oppressive regimes. The players are not dishonoring, disrespecting or evincing hatred for our country. They are exercising one of the highest duties of citizenship.

Jack K. Feirman,

Huntington

The owners of the New York Jets are not “disgraceful,” as Rep. Peter King has said of the team’s plan to pay fines for any players who protest during the anthem.

Kneeling has always been a sign of respect. Players who kneel are not disrespecting the flag, what it stands for or those who fought to protect us. Jets players who protest, supported by management, would be exercising basic principles of our democracy — our rights to free speech, petition and assembly — exactly what our veterans fought for. What is disgraceful are officials who swear to uphold our Constitution, but demean those who exercise their rights under the Constitution.

M. Kathryn Meng,

Westbury

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