Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Colin Kaepernick issue hasn't reached the NHL, but we all have opinions

Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch posted an blog yesterday dealing with the Colin Kaepernick situation. Kaepernick's refusal to stand during the national anthem before his San Fancisco 49'ers took on the Green Bay Packers has turned into a hot-button issue with far-ranging opinions covering the entire scope of the conversation but has yet to make it's way into the NHL as it has in other major sports.

The NBA had the same thing happen when the Denver Nuggets' Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (previously known as Chris Jackson) refused to stand during the national anthem because his new-found Muslim beliefs clashes with what he said was oppression by the government. Abdul-Rauf was suspended by the NBA for one game and he was forced him stand while the NBA allowed him to look down, eyes closed during the national anthem.

NBC Sports reminded us yesterday that Major League Baseball had a similar situation in 2004 with the Toronto Blue Jays' Carlos Delgado when he "drew the ire and respect of many fans for refusing to participate in the ceremonial singing of 'God Bless America' during games, in part because of his opposition to the Iraq War."

Nothing like that has happened yet in the NHL even with a city like Buffalo that plays both the American and Canadian national anthems before each of their home games.

Portzline asked the NHL if they had any policy regarding their players during the national anthem and he quotes NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly as saying that the league "does not have a policy, per se," rather they "would handle each situation on a case-by-case basis."

It's a sound approach, one that hopefully he'll never need to use. In Buffalo the only official response was Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan stating that standing for the national anthem is a "sign of respect for the men and women who have served this country." Yet he said he understands that there are personal things in a players life that "don't allow that." As much as it might rub someone (or many) the wrong way, Kaepernick and any other player wishing to show dissent in this manner are within their rights to do so. The business community might have something to say about that concerning endorsements, etc. but from a personal freedom standpoint, there shouldn't be an issue.

The Stars and Stripes to which everyone is supposed to stand up and turn to during the national anthem, represents the United States of America, a country I’m thankful to have been born into. I and many others consider this to be the greatest in the world not because of the flag or the Star Spangled Banner, but because of the document our country was founded upon—The Constitution—and the freedoms it affords all Americans.

The Constitution was conceived of in the Age of Enlightenment, forged from the American Revolution and put in place by our Founding Fathers to put the power in the people’s hands as it displaced age-old autocracies, aristocracies, monarchies and other forms of governance by the few. Within the Constitution is the Bill of Rights which was put in place to keep US citizens and their freedoms safe from tyrannies like the governments we witnessed from the extreme socialism of the USSR to the extreme fascism of Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

First and foremost in the Bill of Rights was an amendment ratified by Congress in 1791 to protect it’s people from that type of hegemony and totalitarianism:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

We’ve all read it and all know it but usually only trumpet The First Amendment when it suits us. However, that amendment was put in place by our Founding Fathers to protect the rights of it’s citizens who may not have the same view as we or the majority might have.

As a citizen of the United States, Kaepernick's dissent by not standing during the Star Spangled Banner--which wasn't adopted as the official national anthem until 1931--is protected by the First Amendment and his form of protest cannot nor should not be subject to modification or alteration in any way shape or form by those who might be offended by it. The Constitution should always come first, even in this case where the American flag—a symbol, but not the basis, of the freedoms enjoyed by its citizens—is protested.
This stance is unequivocally backed by the military as their Oath of Enlistment applied to all commissioned officers, noncommissioned officers and privates in the service of the United States. The very first sentence of their oath begins, "I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States…" There is no mention of the flag or anything else other than their commanding officers and the President of the United States.
As much as the flag is revered in this country, and as patriotic as one can feel during the Star Spangled Banner let’s not forget that the foundation of the United States is the Constitution and the freedoms it offers it's citizens. Without that Constitution, we’re just another country in a scrap-heap of failed ideologies.




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