Some Michigan high school students have announced their intentions to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem at Midland Community Stadium. The plan is designed to bring attention to racial injustice in our nation.
The students and school officials have discussed the plan, which is a follow-up to what many athletes are doing in the NFL, following the example of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Midland Public School Superintendent Michael Sharrow has tactfully mentioned that the students have a right to kneel during the national anthem. It is free speech protected by the First Amendment.
However, the issue has become very divisive.
Many feel that kneeling during the national anthem, sung or played to honor America, is offensive. The flag and national anthem have been closely associated with our military service men and women — especially those who have been killed in battle.
This is a complicated issue.
We are glad our local students are offended by racism and injustice. It is a discussion we need to have. These are young people who want to make our nation a better place to live.
But we also believe that failing to stand for the national anthem is disrespectful and deeply offensive to veterans and their relatives, or any other Americans, during a moment previously reserved for silent attention. They come from two generations from which thousands of Americans died in three major wars — World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
Local students have a right to make a statement. We just wish there was a different way to make that statement — one that would unify the local community against racism and injustice, while not offending hundreds if not thousands of others who will be present.
The NBA started its season this week and, unlike the NFL, no player took a knee on opening night. Like Kaepernick, we think local students have brought attention to a serious matter. But, like the NBA players on opening night, it is probably time to take a different stand.
— MIDLAND DAILY NEWS (AP)