In April of 1968, my hometown of Baltimore experienced riots as a consequence of Dr. King’s assassination. National Guard troops were stationed around the city. Black power symbols were painted on building/store fronts as a talisman to ward off questionable black community “allegiance.”
At school, “liberty and justice for all” seemed a universe away. But this was not the first or last time that phrase would be assaulted. Lincoln, Kennedy, MLK, Robert Kennedy: all assassinated. Tragedy in America’s history was and is not the sole proprietorship of the black community.
It is not that America is perfect, but it is the striving for ideals that sets us apart. The question the anthem puts to us is, in spite of the bombarding setbacks, will we see the banner still standing? Can we pledge ourselves to the ideals even when they appear to be nowhere in sight and injustices abound? My answer then and now is yes, because to do anything less is to aim at nothing and hit it every time.
Solomon said, “Any fool can start a quarrel” (Prov. 20:3); it’s stopping that is the challenge. Sadly, the NFL “protest kneel” reinforces the very injustice it seeks to destroy. It points to a problem, but takes no “real” action to fix it. It divides us further and paints an entire class (all police) with evil intent. A short while ago, these same folks gave their lives to rescue others from burning towers. By comparison, should we believe that all football players are murderers or women abusers because a few have done so?
Players put on a helmet and pads; police, a bulletproof vest. Players entertain; police put their life on the line. They make it possible for players to have an industry and livelihood by protecting their property and the safety of the public at large. What if they took a knee and chose not to show up on game day?
How about this novel idea? Rather than defaming them with the flag, why not honor them? Why not lift up and gratefully encourage them with the recognition of the ideals that have brought us this far and the reasons for which they put on a badge? Why not surround and stand them up in center field and affirm their value and service? Why not show the world that the flag and its values still stand?
• Edward Bernie Hayes is the Republican candidate for Iowa Senate District 33.
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