Kaepernick Takes-A-Knee, Trump Takes On The Constitution (#49)
To get the answer to the question raging currently, we would need to look at the Constitution of the United States of America as it lays out the founding Principles upon which America depends to know the right behavior for U.S. Government, and its citizens.
The United States is most proud of its enlightened Constitution, as it should be. The American Constitution was brilliantly crafted to uplift all citizens under its purview, most of whom had arrived from the 'Old Country', or were still to arrive upon the shore of the New Land that had by the Union of various States been formed into a relatively new Country called The ‘United States’ of America. The Constitution opens with the Preamble:
‘We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America’.
If one were to read the Preamble that sets the broad goals of the Authors of the Constitution, one would notice that right after the primary goal of forming a ‘more perfect Union’ (which was the mechanism for forming America itself) the second goal stated, which made it the most important behavioral goal of the new government and the people, was to ‘establish Justice’.
Colin Kaepernick (an American football quarterback and now other athletes who joined him) took a knee, not to disrespect the U.S. Flag but to exercise his 'Right' enshrined in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, ‘the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances’.
1st Amendment -
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.
Colin Kaepernick and the others have ‘peaceably assembled’, and through the act of going down on one knee are ‘petitioning the government for a redress of grievances’. The injustice and the grievance? The racial inequality inherent in the treatment of Black Americans at the hands of the police force.
Simple, and exactly as per the most important dictates of the Constitution – establish Justice; and according to the 1st Amendment (not the 2nd or 3rd Amendment but the 1st) ‘petition the government for a redress of grievances’. That is exactly what Colin Kaepernick, and the others joining the protest have done, peaceably ask for Justice and petition the government to correct their grievance.
Trump on the other hand has not read the Constitution, and is on the wrong side of the law. By prohibiting Colin Kaepernick or the other athletes from peacefully protesting the injustice, and bringing it to the notice of government by kneeling ‘for a redress of grievances’, he is acting against the principles specifically laid down in the 1st Amendment, and the founding document the Constitution, and is doing what it specifically asks the government NOT to do, prevent the American people from exercising their right to free speech, and to assemble and protest peaceably. Trump is on the wrong side of history, and the 'Law of the Land'.
As is his wont, Trump has further twisted the issue to inflame his core base of white Americans, particularly from the South - after all, he lit the fuse to this powder keg in Alabama, not a State with a great history of racial equality - he stated that Kaepernick and others, by kneeling during the National Anthem, are disrespecting the American Flag, the Armed Forces and the Veterans. Nothing could be further from the truth as we show below. Then, he has the audacity to say that his intent is not to spark a race war, when that is exactly what he is doing to galvanize his base.
Firstly, as John Oliver pointed out on his TV show (Last Week Tonight), kneeling is a greater sign of respect than standing. Secondly, when in the past, Americans were charged for disrespecting the Flag, it was during the protest years of the Vietnam War, and then people (mostly younger white Americans) were ‘desecrating’ the American flag by burning it, stomping on it, destroying it in many other nasty ways. Neither Colin Kaepernick, nor any other person protesting by kneeling has ever damaged, desecrated, or in any other way damaged the flag. So how is kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem disrespecting the flag, or anything else for that matter?
When the Flag was being disrespected during the Vietnam War protests by mostly White Americans, the American Congress passed the first Federal ‘Flag Protection Act’ in 1968. Over time, 48 out of 50 States adopted similar Legislation to protect the Flag. But in 1989, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned ALL these statues by a 5-4 vote, in the case of Texas v. Johnson, 491U.S. 397, as unconstitutional restrictions of public expression!
The Federal Government then tried a number of different times to reenact the Flag Protection Act but it was shot down again by the Supreme Court in 1990, in the case of United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310, by the same 5-4 vote, declaring that flag burning was constitutionally-protected free speech. By the way, the vote of the Supreme Court Justices consistently included the Republican darling the Late Honorable Antonin Scalia.
All subsequent attempts to bypass the Supreme Court rulings have been through Congressional Constitutional Amendments, which also always failed to pass the Senate, often shot down by Republican Senators.
So, the only person on the wrong side of this argument is the 45th President of the United States. He obviously does not know the Constitution, nor the right assured by the Supreme Court, repeatedly, to disrespect the flag, if any American wanted to, as Constitutional Right.
Colin Kaepernick and fellow protesters are absolutely in their right as Americans to protest by kneeling, the Constitution of the United States guarantees it, and the protest is highly respectful. Trump is the only un-American agitator, denying constitutional rights to fellow Americans and creating hatred and division, both of which acts are forbidden by the Constitution of the United States.