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OpinionLetters

Newsday readers give opinions on national anthem kneeling

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A Carolina Panthers fan holds his sign in

A Carolina Panthers fan holds his sign in protest of the San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick's kneeling protest during the national anthem at an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 18, 2016. Photo Credit: AP / Bob Leverone

I’m amazed at the negative reaction toward people who protest during our national anthem [“Solidarity on sideline,” Sept. 25].

Through history, we’ve seen many examples of totalitarian states, such as Nazi Germany, where protest toward a government was not allowed. We have condemned those governments, and rightfully so. The right to protest is something we should be proud of in this country and should celebrate. More important, when I stand for the anthem, I make a statement of support for my country. It’s a statement because I do it freely, and not because I am obligated.

If my government did not allow me the freedom to decide on my support for our country, then my standing would be meaningless.

Tom Zinno, Jericho

Professional athletes, who are earning millions of dollars, are kneeling during our anthem. This saddens me deeply. Yes, the players have a legal right to protest, but do they truly understand the principles and values of this country, a country where one can protest and which has fought for that right?

I have worked in the defense industry for 40 years, and have spent my life helping to provide the military the best, highest-quality equipment. I’ve heard firsthand stories of young men and women who have sacrificed so much for freedom.

Legal to kneel? Yes. But is it respectful?

Joe Sagona, Massapequa Park

I’ve been a Giants fan forever. I served my country in Vietnam and was a police officer for 33 years in Suffolk County. You have the right to protest, but not in my face. The NFL just freed up my Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays.

Richard Hauser, Ridge

The NFL is a disgrace. As a result, my husband and I will no longer watch the games.

Gina Henry, East Northport

After President Donald Trump criticized athletes who kneel during the anthem, Rep. Peter King tweeted, “Proud to stand with @POTUS Trump in support of standing for national anthem in support of America’s military and police.”

Leaving aside whether to praise or criticize on-field protests, when did the anthem come to mean support for the military and the police? That’s never been my understanding. Our anthem represents ideals, not individuals or positions.

King’s understanding of why we stand is part of the reason why some choose to protest in the first place.

Arthur Dobrin, Westbury

We watch highly skilled and exorbitantly paid athletes disrespect the system of the very nation that provided them the opportunity to play in the NFL.

The First Amendment card is being played. Football should be a safe haven and a sport for all to watch, not a political platform for a special few. They’re turning the field into a political football. Just because one can do something doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do.

Lawrence Harkavy, St. James

There is a time and place for protest. At work, there are many actions I’m prohibited from doing. I’m paid to do my job; I’m not allowed to use my job as a platform to further my opinions.

I can only conclude that the NFL encourages this behavior by not instituting a code of conduct that prohibits it. The NFL and players must recognize that the athletes are playing a sport for a living, and people don’t watch football for the players’ personal opinions.

Steven F. Cassidy, Franklin Square

Disrespectful actions against the flag or anthem are against all of us, not just against abusive police or racists.

Wealthy athletes need not take a knee to call attention to racism or police brutality. Most of us are aware already. These athletes should find other ways to help reduce the conditions they protest.

Crowds at professional athletic events are mostly white people whose money, attendance and support have made African-American athletes millionaire celebrities. Would these people have gone to games if they were racists? It is likely the racists stayed home if they didn’t want to support African-American athletes.

Jan Huml, Bohemia

I have to ask what the NFL is doing. It is turning a giant sports entertainment business into a vehicle for social activism.

The owners are allowing their employees to hijack their business and turn the game into a political statement. What business allows its employees to do things on the job that alienate its customers?

It’s ludicrous! The majority of fans are unhappy with allowing the national anthem and flag of the United States to be disrespected on such a grand scale by self-absorbed, pampered millionaires.

Mike Fitzpatrick, Massapequa Park

Spare me the outrage of NFL fans who never left, in spite of reports that the league’s owners recruited and signed players with a history of violence. Spare me the owners’ embarrassing statements about everyone deserving a second chance. Spare me the outrage of people who do this and still rage at Colin Kaepernick, the first NFL player to kneel during the anthem.

To honor our flag, we must allow people peaceful dissent even when we don’t agree with them.

Rosemary Gonzalez, Farmingdale

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