If you've noticed the irony of Donald Trump's discourse concerning the recent NFL players form of silent protest against racism and inequity, then you are probably getting chills. We are on the brink of a possible conflict with North Korea, an authoritarian regime that requires citizens to literally worship public symbols. Is it not ironic that Donald Trump is demanding the same kind of subservience? Does his propensity for illogical and hypocritical thinking not raise a red flag? (no charge for the pun) NFL player Colin Kapernick's protest is a way for him to express his dissatisfaction with a country that he believes has failed to protect the Civil Rights of many of its citizens of color.
Symbols are an important way for people to express unity and peace, but when symbols oppress rather than free citizens, the feelings of nostalgia and unity are reversed. Forcing anyone to say a pledge or stand during a ceremony is useless if the person being forced has become disenchanted with what the symbol represents. It is best to observe who is feeling disenchanted and why, and then try to make corrections that will bring this segment of the society back into a state of political harmony.
It is typical of Trump to turn to capitalist notions of who owes what to whom in order to argue his point. But what he is forgetting is that citizens are free to protest in a peaceful way. By calling players "son of a bitches" and demanding they be fired, he is alienating his office (the most prominent symbol of American freedom) from even more politically active citizens. Instead of shouting down threats from his public platform, he should instead be asking what he can do to restore unity and harmony to the political and cultural landscape.
Because Trump, and people that share his bigoted beliefs, will never consider making adjustments to the decisive and unjust speech and actions that they support, every free-thinking person should take a knee. Free expression and the right to peacefully demonstrate a dislike for egregious public policies must continue to be a mainstay of American civil service. When people like Trump speak out against this kind of protest by referencing the military and first responders, they are trying to guilt the populace into submission. This is a tactic that the military and all public servants should reject as illogical and immoral. The American military is not in place to subject its citizens to tyranny, but instead to protect the freedom to dissent.
Rejecting a symbol is a tangible way to express dissatisfaction with the entity that it represents.