The issues raised by the NFL protests
Task 2A asks you to discuss Texts 5 and 6 which concern National Football League players’ protests against racial discrimination. In your discussion, you should include the issues raised, the views expressed in the texts, and a comparison of the language of the texts.
Between 2016 and 2018, NFL Players started to protest against police and judicial discrimination against African Americans. Colin Kaepernick started the protests, as mentioned in Text 5: “Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem in San Francisco last year.” (ll. 1-2).
The protest was a simple gesture. Instead of standing during the national anthem before a football game, the player would kneel. Gradually, more players started protesting this way. However, the protests gained momentum when Donald Trump criticised the players, as Text 6 shows: "Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’ ” (ll. 1-2). Trump's reaction prompted more players to protest in this way.
The NFL protests raised issues related to discrimination against African Americans, freedom of speech, and disrespect for American symbols such as the flag and the national anthem.
From the NFL protesters’ perspective, kneeling was a way of speaking for the voiceless and of raising awareness about systematic discrimination against African Americans. This is noted by text 5:
The young black athletes are not disrespecting America or the military by taking a knee during the anthem. They are respecting the best thing about America. They, and all of us, should protest how black Americans are treated in this country. (ll. 18-20)
They also saw the gesture as part of their rights as stated by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, according to Hansen: “Freedom of speech is the First Amendment. Nowhere in the constitution does it say that you have to stand during the anthem.” (ll. 27-29). As a result, they felt that Trump’s comments were undemocratic, trying to prevent them from exercising their constitutional rights:
Donald Trump has said he supports a peaceful protest because it's an American's right. But he does not support this protest, and there's the problem. He clearly thinks that any protest that you don't agree with is a protest that should be stopped. (ll. 10-14)
Donald Trump, on the other, hand pointed out that the protest raises issues about respecting American symbols such as the flag and the anthem, as indicated by text 6: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag…” (l. 1); “But you know what’s hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they are playing our great national anthem.” (ll. 14-16).