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OpinionLetters

The American flag, the national anthem and athlete protests

The Dallas Cowboys, led by owner Jerry Jones,

The Dallas Cowboys, led by owner Jerry Jones, center, take a knee prior to the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz., last week. Photo Credit: AP / Matt York

What is bravery? Bravery is the Tuskegee Airmen who under their protection never lost an Allied bomber and yet came home to a segregated America. They fought for a future for a desegregated America. Bravery is Rosa Parks, who sat down so all could ride equally. Bravery is Selma and Birmingham. Bravery is the child in Chicago going to school, not knowing whether he will be shot.

It is very easy to be brave in a stadium protected by police and security personnel [“Readers reflect on anthem protests,” Letters, Sept. 26]. It is very easy to be brave hiding behind social media within the gated protection of a mansion with private security.

The flag represents those people who fought for equality, freedom and justice. When you kneel, you denigrate their sacrifices. Where is your Selma or Birmingham or Chicago?

Dominick Figliuolo, Amityville

To the writers of “Disappointment in anthem protesters” [Letters, Sept. 21], why don’t you listen to what some of these protesters have to say?

The protests are their way of highlighting legitimate concerns by heightening people’s awareness of individuals who suffer injustices because of race and creed. Many have served with distinction and have given their lives in service to this country.

This is far from “the easy way out,” as one writer put it. The protesters often face hateful ridicule and consequences far exceeding their actions, as did the Rev. Martin L. King Jr. This is why we honor his legacy. We should respect the right to peacefully protest to promote the betterment of our democracy in the United States.

James E. Morgan Sr., Centereach

Editor’s note: The writer is a retired Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War.

I wonder whether President Donald Trump or most citizens are aware that the writer of our anthem, Francis Scott Key, was a slave owner and a racist. The man who penned the words “the land of the free” meant it to apply only to our white population.

The question should be why any of us stand for our national anthem and why don’t we change the song. The “Star-Spangled Banner” was adopted as our anthem in 1931, and we have better poets than Key to choose from now. How about Langston Hughes’ “Let America Be America Again”? He wrote, “Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed.”

The athletes and citizens who bring attention to our racial divisions are protesting peacefully and exercising their constitutional right to free speech. The suggestion that they should be fired for doing so is truly anti-American.

America is finally addressing its racial past, which has been a source of unresolved deep division since our nation’s inception.

Raphael Strauss, Plainview

Letters about the NFL protests overlook something. Those who criticize the kneeling players oppose the politicization of football, but in the same breath they say that the flag and the national anthem stand for the military and “our” values and “exceptionalism.”

In other words, they are not against politicizing football, they’re against political perspectives different from their own.

Shouldn’t we ask why in allegedly international sports we engage in nationalistic rituals? How is this different from the indoctrination we decry in North Korea or Cuba?

Can we acknowledge that the flag, the anthem and the country represent different things to different people, based in no small part on their skin color? Do critics realize that to deny the right of protest contradicts the very principles they allegedly stand for?

The protests and the president’s response are clearly about race. They are about stains on the flag and the hypocrisy of the anthem in light of a history begun in slavery and Jim Crow, and continuing to this day in police killings, racial injustice and bigotry used as political wedges.

Alan M. Weber, Medford

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