Arian Foster’s perspective should help those who stand for the anthem understand why some don’t

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Throughout the past 12 days, there have been moments that have resonated with many, for various different reasons. One of the moments that impacted me the most came from former NFL running back Arian Foster.

Appearing on Pardon My Take, Foster shared a conversation he had with a conservative commentator who had been pushing the notion that kneeling during the anthem disrespects the flag.

“You don’t have a monopoly on what it means to be American, and how to feel in America,” Foster said. “And so when you see the flag and the Star-Spangled Banner and the stripes, you get a real like gut, visceral, feel-good feeling of — I don’t. I don’t feel that sh-t, at all. I don’t. And you can’t make me feel that sh-t.

“I wish I did feel that sh-t when I heard the Star-Spangled Banner, the national [anthem]. I wish I did. But I don’t like the song. The flag, I’m real indifferent about the flag. I don’t feel like this inherent, like, I love to be an American. . . . And a lot of us feel like that.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had. I’ve very grateful for all of that sh-t. But the experience that I’ve had in American does not make me feel all happy, happy, joy, joy like it does for you when you say, ‘I’m American,’ right? It’s not the same. And that experience is valid, right? And what they’re doing is they’re trying to invalidate that experience. And anytime you do that, you’re gonna lose that battle. Because this is how people feel. You can’t argue with emotions.”

Some Americans object (often loudly) to any exercise of First Amendment rights that would consist of not standing at attention with hand over heart for the full duration of the anthem. Other Americans who choose to stand during the anthem support the freedom of others to consciously (or not) behave differently during the anthem, in order to send a message. Foster’s explanation provides an important perspective for those who always stand for the anthem, stirred by positive emotions regarding what American means to them.

America doesn’t mean the same thing to people who have been oppressed by the representatives of American institutions. America doesn’t mean the same thing to people who have been mistreated by the representatives of American institutions. America doesn’t mean the same thing to people who have been injured or had friends or family members intentionally and deliberately killed by the representatives of American institutions.

Those experiences erode how some Americans feel about America. Given that, in nearly 244 years of American existence, the ideals articulated in the founding documents still aren’t fully and fairly applied to all Americans, it shouldn’t surprise those who have had a good experience in America that many have had a bad experience in America, and that these bad experiences shape how those Americans view America.

Here’s the real question, the one that those of us who have always stood for the anthem with feelings of honor and pride and patriotism in the nation for which the flag stands must address: Now that we fully and completely understand that the promise of America has been outright broken for so many, do we still feel the same way? And will we only feel that way again when the notion that “all men are created equal” is respected and that all in America have an inalienable right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is honored and the phrase above the entry to the Supreme Court — “equal justice under law” — isn’t just four words carved into stone but a principle engrained on the soul of a country?

39 responses to “Arian Foster’s perspective should help those who stand for the anthem understand why some don’t

  1. It’s amazing its early June and I dread, and I mean DREAD,the upcoming 2020 NFL season. Keep the social issues out of enertainment.

  2. We still have the freedom to right the wrongs under which so many have suffered. This forum is a powerful first step in the right direction.

  3. Arian Foster explains his feelings well and it’s important for people to hear that. But change happens when reforms are made, laws get changed, and people get persuaded. How does offending such a large segment of our population by kneeling for the anthem help to do those things? The Civil Rights movement was so successful because Martin Luther King was always doing and saying things to ADD people to the cause, not turn them away with actions and words that offended them. Like most people, I want to see these reform efforts be successful. I hope we do not lose this opportunity by turning this into a tribal issue.

  4. Wonder what America means to him when he is cashing millions of American dollars of checks that he is has the privilege to be paid for playing a game in America.

  5. The flaw in Mr. Foster’s take is that the point of the national anthem is not to draw out a showing of pride. Yes, it can do that too for people, but then why are we looked to stand during the national anthems of OTHER countries? The answer is simple: respect. You stand for the anthem to show respect. Even if you see issues or even outright opposition in another country, in these moments the idea is to be respectful. As seen in an exchange from the film Troy, one character noted “if I do this, it doesn’t change anything. I’m still your enemy in the morning”. The reply? “You’re still my enemy tonight. But even enemies can show respect”.

    And if one thinks that the United States doesn’t deserve at least respect, that indicates a terribly flawed perspective. The promise of America was never ever a promise of perfection – which is a good thing, because perfection is impossible. It was a promise of protected rights and a guaranteed voice, with forces and checks and balances in place to work to fix when it is perceived that those protections and rights are under threat. It’s the ability to go to a ballot box and not feel coerced to have to vote a certain way, the ability to go to a town or city or state meeting and express discontent and not worry that someone will “take care of you”.

    There is and always will be aspects of America to be unsatisfied with. Frankly, it is a civic duty to watch for dissatisfactions and speak up when they are found. But America provides amazing positives for even those who are disadvantaged or discriminated against. To not see that requires one to be so self-centered and self-absorbed into one’s problems as to only see the flaws and ignore the powerful forces and mechanisms at work to make one’s life better.

    That, or one has to be incapable of being civil and showing respect even for one perceived as an “adversary”. To see no reason to stand and show respect during the anthem, Mr. Foster is either blind to the fact that America is not an adversary and offers him so many more positives than negatives (even as the negatives are real and need to be confronted)…or he is incapable of showing respect for something he sees as an adversary, which would be a shortcoming in his own civility. It’s a shame either way.

  6. The very act of coercing people to stand for the anthem and flag is antithetical to what those things are meant to stand for.
    Forcing someone to stand and recite a “pledge”, or sing an anthem, is as characteristic of authoritarian regimes. Using the same criteria to deny someone a job mash be technically legal, but when 32 someones do it at the same time, you can bet it’s no accident.
    BTW, Kap > Dak .

  7. What perspective Foster needs to see is you can not force you ideas down throats’ of others when you feel this is what is happening to you. The difference you get to use being a NFL player to be heard when others have to show it in other ways by standing up for the symbols of this country.

  8. Things will never change. People hold onto their racism like they hug their guns, and what effect has Sandy Hook had?

  9. It’s called a show of respect. You want it, you should show it. Grow up.

  10. Sadly if this continues, as much as I love the sport of football, I will not watch this year.

  11. krabballs says:
    June 6, 2020 at 11:04 am
    Things will never change. People hold onto their racism like they hug their guns, and what effect has Sandy Hook had?

    Sandy Hook was never about the gun, it was about an unbalanced fool with a complete moron of a mother giving said fool access to her guns. The only gun issue we have is people who don’t respect what a gun can do for you or too you.

  12. I don’t feel goosebumps or whatnot either and I was a detective AND 50 feet from the 3 fireman who raised the flag at the WTC. I looked at my partner and we were like WTH? WE were trying to save lives, they were doing nothing. A photo looks different than real life.

    Does ANYONE outside of those who were there realize there was 100 foot flag draped across the old Merrill Lynch building? That the ‘iconic’ flag was barely a thought because the huge flag was unmissable?

    Point is, you can make anything out to be anything. You can certainly fee nothing (like I see the fireman flag and is psssses me off to no end) and if I wrote JUST that, I get lambasted. But I have a very unique perspective.

    PS: I don’t like nor dislike the song but I DO respect the Flag. I would NEVER kneel and I would NEVER put the toothpaste back in the tube (to quote a certain blogger).

  13. I’m supportive of racial justice and reform of police practices.

    But I’ve always felt kneeling during the anthem and disrespect toward the flag was a poor way to protest injustice. I’ve felt that way because the anthem and flag represent the American ideal and values, what we aspire to be as a nation – freedom and justice for all – even if we have not fully realized those ideals. And so kneeling as a sign of disapproval is a disapproval of those ideals, which makes no sense to me.

    Aaron Rodgers and others have said it was never about the flag. Which is true. So don’t make it be about the flag. Protest the specific injustices that need to be corrected. Make the effort to correct them. Kneeling during the national anthem communicates a disapproval of everything our country stands for, including the Constitution, which in turn leads to disapproval from many/most NFL viewers, and really defeats the purpose.

    As we strive for a more perfect union, it’s important that we all believe, or continue to believe, in the ideals that make us American, and to respect and honor the symbols of those ideals, as a commitment to realizing them, and to honor those who have defended them.

  14. @stexan says:
    June 6, 2020 at 10:41 am
    Your whole post is the definition of being brainwashed.

  15. The founders of this country left countries that didn’t treat them fairly. It’s history repeating itself, new generations should remember what started this country and until they do people who aren’t being treated fairly always have the freedom to leave and go someplace that will. If so many people are unhappy with the US why don’t they explore other options?

  16. To understand that the flag the supposedly being disrespected. Is the same flag that gives the right to protest. And as long as it’s peaceful it doesn’t determine where and when. If you believe in your flag respect what it offers everyone. Not just your opinion. And if not, as you say there are plenty of other countries to go live in

  17. This white woman, as just about her only option to show support for Kap, for those who are courageously protesting police brutality and the apartheid nature of America, hasn’t stood for the anthem, sung the anthem, saluted the flag, and she never will for the rest of her days.

    Arian is correct

  18. To all the people saying they won’t watch the NFL as if it’s threat, no one cares, the game will go on and millions will still tune into watch it. The NFL doesn’t need you.

  19. I’m all for peaceful protests, including kneeling for the anthem.

    I also understand why others would find it disrespectful.

    Symbols mean different things to different people, and who is to say whose opinions are right.

    Not everything has to be just black and white (not referring to skin color). Its ok for things to be grey.

  20. There is a very simple solution to this NFL problem. Don’t play the national anthem before games. For the rest of it, people need to come together as one denounce injustice everywhere.

  21. Freedom of speech and I can agree you can’t debate someone else’s emotions. However, it is this American system that provides him the opportunity to play a game and earn millions of dollars. If he really dislikes America, no one is making him stay in America or financially benefit from the system he denounces.

  22. Perfectly said. If you haven’t been in my shoes, you have no idea just like I don’t about yours.

  23. Mr. Foster-

    There are 195 countries in the world. You have 194 others to choose from. Please expedite.

  24. Again until anyone has experienced or walked in the shoes of a Foster or that of a African American in this country can you judge or write it off as they can leave. This is a country of immigrants and no one tribe deserves less than the other. Stop and ask the question why he like many others are feeling this way. Be part of the solution versus dismissing the problem. Kneeling for a flag rather you agree or disagree is NOT the problem!

  25. “Mr. Foster-

    There are 195 countries in the world. You have 194 others to choose from. Please expedite.”

    This argument is so tired. Under this logic, if you’re a citizen of the US, you need to either agree w everything, or leave?

    Would you apply that same logic during all of our history then? Slavery, internment camps, civil rights . . we have our black eyes over the course of our history like any other country – it’s the right to protest, among other things, that makes us what we are.

  26. Simple, foster:
    I’m sure you’ll find the same opportunities elsewhere.

  27. This what people don’t like:
    “This is my opinion, this is why I feel that way, and you need to respect my opinion”

    Same person:
    “Your opinion is wrong!”

    Respect is a two way street. That goes for everyone. This is quickly devolving from equality to fascism.

  28. To all those people saying— if you don’t like it, leave— YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

    What an arrogant thing to say— should blacks have done that in the fifties and sixties as well? You might as well just speak the truth– you don’t really give a damn about true equality and what it feels like in their shoes. You are close minded and hiding behind an issue (respect for the military) that has nothing to do with this.

    Look in the mirror– please. — talk to people who are different… other colors, other experiences– don’t look at black folks as being lucky to have what they have — all these truly arrogant people — it’s really sad. Please consider the fact that you May have been wrong about an issue– and maybe it’s been ingrained since you grew up— and maybe, just maybe, listen to all these people whose hearts are broken….. and consider the fact that you May be broken if your heart isn’t.

  29. Cap has the right to kneel during the anthem. No question. Every American citizen has the right to not buy tickets to a football game. Please explain to me where the error is in this simple logic.

  30. I understand what he is saying. I’m all for change. And I see how choosing not to stand for the flag would be a noticeable time to draw attention to how you see things. However, ticking off half of the country by doing this isn’t helping, it’s hurting.

  31. We all agree a change is needed in how we treat each other. We should respect the others point of view, even if we are on opposite sides of the issue. I stand for the flag and anthem to show respect and honor for those that gave life and limb from 1775 to present, so that we can pursue our dreams and our child’s dreams in this great experiment called The Unites State of America. Talk to each other not at each other, the art of compromise needs to be practiced more. Just kneeling during the anthem isn’t going to change people minds.

  32. Standing for the National Anthem should never be mandatory. Neither should sitting in your chair during a eulogy at a funeral.

    Not mandatory, but also not a great choice to protest during either of those solemn occasions.

  33. Everyone like to eat….just hold huge buffet style gatherings….only ask will everyone not sit with someone they know, and hopefully just talk. Millionaires can foot the bill. That’s my ACTION plan to start the ball rolling. (Do it at the stadiums too…)

  34. Wanna guess how many of these anti-kneeling, respect the flag or else zealots stand up and put their hand over their hearts when watching the anthem at home on the TV?

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