NFL Protest: A Veteran’s Take on the Kneeling Controversy

by | Sep 27, 2017 | Josh Sommer

This post originally appeared on Josh’s personal blog, www.dontjoshme.net.

I’ve never seen combat.

I should mention that here and now.

The fact that I’ve never seen combat may put me a pay grade below qualification when it comes to speaking on issues like this one. That said, I am a veteran. I’ve watched friends suffer from PTSD. I’ve seen men come back from deployments with one less limb. I’ve seen military men and women give a lot for the citizens of this nation. The “kneeling controversy” is a more complicated issue to write on than one would think—at least, through the eyes of a U.S. military veteran—combat or no combat. Our nation is really good at falling either toward the left or toward the right depending on the issue, and the current situation is no different. We have a tendency to oversimplify matters in such a way as to leave us jumping like blind deer into oncoming traffic.

There’s no middle way for the great majority of proud Americans.

I like America as much as the next guy. I gave four years of my life serving it; lost family members while I was away working for it; and fought depression while obeying orders from it. That’s a mild sacrifice compared to the great majority of men I served with. But a trial-filled labor, like the one I experienced, inevitably becomes a labor of love.

I’m grateful that my Lord has placed me in this country rather than Cambodia or Syria. Heck, I could have grown up in Libya or Iraq. I can praise God that I’m here, living in a place where I can stand or kneel anytime I want to. That right, along with many others, have been protected by men and women in uniform.

Yes, men and women have died so that snot nosed football players could kneel during the National Anthem. But before we get too patriotic, we—as Americans—need to remember that our country actively kills people, everyday—innocent people, people with a future… baby people. Hitler has infiltrated the psyche of the American citizen. We are gaga for our flag and our songs, but willfully ignorant of the blood that makes the stripes, and unconcerned for the tears that hold the stars.

America has become the very monster she’s fought so hard to kill. What a waste. What a waste of soldier’s lives. What a waste of human potential. What a waste of precious, beautiful, God-given children. Most importantly, what a trampling of the Lord of glory, the great Giver of life!

When I read the news that a bunch of overpaid football players were throwing tantrums in their billion dollar stadiums, I was upset at first. I thought, “what are these people thinking?” and to be completely honest, I’m still asking that question. What are they protesting for? Could they even answer that question consistently? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Many Americans, veterans and non-veterans alike, are upset that such a number of privileged citizens (and they are privileged) would virtually spit in the face of all its service people, and the great opportunities they’ve been afforded here. A concept like the NFL doesn’t exist in less fortunate nations.

The majority of Americans are blue-collar workers… hard workers. They bust their knuckles on the concrete in auto shops, they throw out their backs while assembling A-frames; they are tired from feeding cattle, breaking horses, working the hospital floor, picking up the last house’s garbage, arresting the last criminal, dousing the final fire, and firing the last shot.

Americans work hard, generally speaking, and so do athletes. But athletes are compensated for their work they do; compensated infinitely better than I was for four years; compensated worlds better than even the finest military officer candidate.

There is frustration to be had in lower and middle America—warranted frustration. However, frustration doesn’t mean sequestration of rights these same people have worked so hard to protect.

As a prior service member, I’d be working against my 4 years of service, my Staff Sergeant’s 10 years of service, my Gunny’s 15 years of service, my First Sergeant’s 20 years of service, and my Sergeant Major’s or Master Guns’ 30+ years of service. Add those years together and you get 79 years of collective duty that would be directly negated by the bolstering of anti-Constitutionalism.

But wait a minute. All this work has already become nothing.

These United States of America have finally come together to murder innocent children. In fact, this den of vipers—called the U.S.A.—has been killing innocent people for decades now.

Where is our valor? Where is our bravery? We are cowards down to our very marrow. Our light has become darkness, and our bad has become good. We used to love the taste of liberty, but now we’re addicted to the buzz of tyranny. Don’t dare stand there chanting, “God bless America,” when behind your flag is a local murder mill.

You’re having a beer with Stalin, while you shout your hollow patriotism at millionaires who want to take a knee. While you sing, while you salute, while you stand, a 16 year old girl is consoling in some man who will cut apart the little person growing inside her womb. That’s the truth. And you, patriot, do not care.

I think the NFL protest is stupid. It demonstrates—in full view—the dumbing down of westernized culture. But as a former U.S. Marine, I can’t steal the right for people to be morons—and I shouldn’t even want to. There are larger issues at hand. A person has no business thanking God for this country, and all its amenities, if they can’t understand that this nation hates God. A person has no business screaming the National Anthem at the top of their lungs until they realize the lamp has been removed from its stand.

When patriots proclaim nationalist rhetoric while their nation spills innocent blood, God’s judgment has come. When confusion like this plagues the greatest of the great, God’s sovereign hand is bringing low the prideful. There is simply nothing to be loud about so long as this silent genocide continues.

As a veteran, I can’t bring myself to a patriotic piety. The nation I gave my time to is working too hard against itself. I can’t bring myself to be angry at a bunch of overpaid children. As far as I’m concerned, they have a right to kneel—let them. Not only has my country turned back upon its founding documents, it has waged war with the God who established its borders. There was a time when the citizens of this nation counted their blessings. Emerging from the hate of European heresy, the Puritans were free to worship the one true God rightly. Later, the founding fathers—deeply influenced by Protestantism—established a government in recognition of the image of God in every human being.

Now… we kill babies.

What a grievous turning of the tide.

I don’t exactly know how to end an article like this one. I’m sure I’ll receive scoffs. I guess I’ll leave you, the reader, with a challenge.

We’ve invaded nations charged with war crimes. We’ve lost thousands of men fighting communism. We have, in the past, served as a country for those with no country of their own. So, what would a 1941 United States of America have done if it discovered that another country was killing its own people?

I’ll tell you what it would have done.

It would have launched the largest military campaign in history, up to that point. It would have put every healthy man on the battlefield and every able-bodied woman in a factory making ammunition. It would have pursued that murderous country with blood, sweat, and tears—it would have exacted justice, and it would have administered help to the helpless. This country—the country that now kills innocent babies—did this very thing during World War II.

My oh my, how we’ve become like our enemies.

Co-founder, editor, and contributor of The Reformed Collective. He is a member and pastoral intern at Word of Life Baptist Church, Kansas City, MO. He has co-coordinated the evangelism ministry at Grace Bible Church in San Diego, CA. At present he is pursuing a B.A. in Biblical Studies as well as an M. Div. He currently resides in Overland Park, KS with his wife, Christina.
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