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Letter: Kneeling is patriotic when nation falls short of ideals
Buffalo Bills players take a knee during the playing of the national anthem prior to a game Sept. 24, 2017, against the Denver Broncos in Orchard Park, N.Y. - photo by Associated Press

There are times when it might be an act of patriotism to not stand during our national anthem. Here are some reasons why.

Our flag represents freedom, equality and justice. Brave and proud Americans from all races have fought and died for those ideals. 

There are times when our society fails to practice those ideals in a significant way. Slavery was such a time. Jim Crow and segregation was another time. Allowing workers, including children, to be overworked, underpaid and exploited was another time. Sending young men and women into war for questionable reasons is another time. 

It is understandable why some individuals might feel that facing our flag and singing our national anthem during times of major injustice would be hypocritical. It is understandable why some might not, in good conscience, be able to join others in saying one thing, when our actions are contradicting the very essence of what we are saying. 

In their minds, they are being more faithful to the flag than the rest of us are, by publicly expressing the hypocrisy. In fact, many would see them as being the conscience of our nation. 

Just like healthy individuals, healthy societies have a conscience. Could the pain some people make us feel as a society actually be the pain of a guilty conscience?

Ultimately, it’s not about the flag. It’s about the principles our flag stands for. When the principles are not being respected, neither is the flag. Perhaps we sometimes need that reminder.

Alan Shope


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