Make America United Again

By Justin Hubbard


I feel a lot of sadness as I type these words.

My Tuesday’s going pretty well. We’ve produced what I think is another strong sports section. The Georgia football team won big last week and, last night, my Dallas Cowboys snapped out of their funk and won on Monday Night Football.

People ask me all the time, “How are you?” And I typically respond with, “I can’t complain.”

But, today, I’d like to complain. I want to complain about the state of our country.

Nobody can say or do anything without offending someone else. This past weekend, the big issue of debate was NFL players' protests during the national anthem.

Notice the wording of that sentence: It says “during” the anthem, not “of” it. No one is protesting against “The Star Spangled Banner” or the United States flag or even the troops.

I think that’s gotten lost in the hoopla of the Colin Kaepernick controversy and certainly the controversy produced Sunday during the NFL slate of games. No, the #TakeAKnee movement, started by Kaepernick, began as a means to bring awareness to the brutality and racism faced by our nation’s black people.

I am a very fortunate person. I was born into a great family and raised among great friends. I attended the predominantly black Greene County School System and learned more than just a thing or two about understanding people of different color than my own.

That upbringing is why I choose to support those who kneel during the national anthem. I can’t relate to the prejudice faced by my black brothers and sisters, but I full well am aware of it. We can’t go six months in this country without seeing yet another example of why Kaepernick and others who kneel choose to protest.

Of course, racism exists on both sides. Prejudice exists on both sides. No one is arguing against that point; therefore, it’s ignorant to bloviate and make those comments as a means of detracting from these peaceful demonstrations.

It’s also ignorant to chalk up the protests to disrespect without listening to those who do it. We all need to do a better job of opening our ears and closing our mouths to understand each other. Instead of bringing up this subject to start an argument, how about you broach it to learn something?

There’s plenty of blame to go around on both sides of this situation, too. I’m disappointed in the many friends of mine who vehemently decry those who choose to protest during the anthem. I’m disappointed that those who protest don’t do a better job of communicating their reasons.

If you decide to kneel, understand others may decide to disagree with you. If you disagree with these protests, you need to understand those who participate in them have a constitutional right to do so.

It’s OK to disagree with one another. We just need to do it respectfully.

I stand and cover my heart with my hat every time I hear the national anthem. But I understand it’s my neighbor’s right to sit or kneel during the same anthem if he or she so chooses. Protesting during the national anthem isn't "un-American" – it's America at its finest.

It shows we have an understanding of the rights guaranteed to us as citizens of this nation. It’s a reminder that we’re a blessed people to have those rights in the first place. Our right to protest during the national anthem is just as real as our right to practice whichever religion we want or my right to do my job. Those things are protected by the same constitutional amendment.

You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to support it. But our constitution grants us the freedom to protest the national anthem. You think everyone in the world has that freedom? We are so lucky!

And I haven’t even mentioned our wonderful president’s comments regarding this situation.

He seemingly desires to make all citizens prove their respect to him and the flag. He said he’d fire NFL players for protesting during the anthem if he had the ability.

That should scare every one of us. The president of the United States really expects all of the citizens he’s charged with serving to show him and the flag admiration. The effects of such thinking could be disastrous and there’s a chance that thinking pushes Trump to try and take action that would ultimately curb our freedoms.

We can’t let hatred tear us apart. We all need to come together and gain a better understanding of one another. It’s the only way our country can survive.

We stand today at a pivotal point in our country’s history. We’re the most divided we’ve been in my nearly 24 years of life. It’s time we pull together and make things better for everyone and stop focusing on just ourselves.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Our foundation is shaking, but there’s still time to save our house. We just have to be willing to do it.

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