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Russ Mitchell

The Mitchell Report

Russ Mitchell is editor of The Dickinson County News. He has been in Spirit Lake since January 2010 and began in journalism in 1997. The Mitchell Report can be about anything and everything. Comments are invited.

Opinion

Taking a knee on the anthem debate

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

I wish I could still be mad at Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49er who took a knee during national anthems in 2016 and couldn't find a roster spot anywhere in 2017.

I wanted the quarterback to find another form of peaceful protest to convey the messages of social injustice and police misconduct.

I was thinking of the local men and women who answered the call, lost their lives — or survived with scars — in service to our country. The "Star-Spangled Banner" is an appreciation of their sacrifice and an acknowledgment of the freedoms we enjoy today.

We can take a moment before a ballgame to celebrate that, right? Just a minute is all. Is that too much to ask, Mr. Kaepernick?

"It's hard to promote unity if you use our national anthem as a means of protest," I wrote, less than three years ago.

But then we saw Ahmaud Arbery get chased, filmed and gunned down by three redneck vigilantes riding pickup trucks through a Brunswick, Georgia, neighborhood. And we saw officer Derek Chauvin press his knee to the neck of George Floyd for more than eight minutes in Minneapolis.

Sure. It's hard to promote unity if you use our national anthem as a means of protest.

It's also hard to promote unity when there's no unity to promote.

We saw two men die and it was streamed into our living rooms on social media platforms. There are burning cars, broken glass and assaults on the street.

I wish I could still be mad at a Nike-wearing activist.

But, as the protesters across the country are trying to tell us, we have bigger problems than a knee and a song.