National anthem debate
This letter is in response to the 9/26/17 “Mitchell Report.” I think we can largely agree that “we need a break from the divisiveness.” However, I respectfully disagree with your proposed solution of suggesting that individuals need to stand for the national anthem.
First of all, athletes are not “spurning” (i.e., rejecting with disdain or contempt) the Star-Spangled Banner, the American flag, or veterans such as Lt. Morris Marks by peacefully kneeling. Colin Kaepernick initially started taking a knee back in August 2016 to “spurn” police brutality.
You acknowledged that “a kid who grew up in white, northwest Iowa can’t begin to understand it all.” And I agree. I, too, couldn’t possibly understand what it is like to grow up or raise black children in a country where blacks are three times more likely to be killed by police than whites (while 30 percent of those killed were unarmed) or in a state where a black person is eight times more likely to be arrested than a white person for the exact same conduct.
As managing editor of the Dickinson County News, I am sure you are familiar with your reader demographics and that approximately 98 percent of this county is white, with less than 1 percent African American. Your column is not directed to Colin Kaepernick, NFL players, people of color or anyone actually taking a knee; rather, your audience is the predominantly white communities of northwest Iowa. And I believe proffered solutions such as yours will only serve to further alienate us from those who are personally affected by police brutality, racial inequality and injustice. The Denver Broncos aren’t going to stop kneeling simply because you or I or any other individual up here in northwest Iowa might think it’s the wrong way to protest. If we truly want to encourage unity, the conversation should not be about whether or not athletes should be kneeling at all, but instead about why they are kneeling and about what we can do at a local level to eliminate implicit bias in our own lives and communities.