How Do You Honor Veterans?
User Briana Hartzell USAA Community Manager
User Ted.L (Opens a pop up layer) Contributor
I am from a family that brings most into service of the USA. My father, died in part, from WWII disabilities. I have disabilities from more recent conflicts. I support efforts to help those who bring home disabilities, and the family members who are affected by stress, and who devote time to help the injured.
I also remember and reflect upon the reasons why we joined and risked our lives to keep our system of government as we want it to remain independent of conquest by those who seek to dominate us. I like to think that our forefathers created a good start for this country of ours. One thing I know, is that we are granted the ability to think independently and to express ourselves openly, without fear of incarceration or retribution. I like that. We seem to have forgotten, however, that this includes the ability to speak out and show dissatisfaction when things aren't fair or when we protest inequities or other social ills in our nation. I, as was my father, and other members of my extended family, are willing to risk our lives to protect our individual freedoms. That is one of the reasons I wore a uniform for 22 years.
Many people reject the NFL players for their protest regarding the long history of Black people, who historically abused by a minority of police officers. This has nothing to do with the military or any comment regarding service members. In any case, I am proud that Mr. Kapernick protested non-violently regading a well-established fact of inequality. I am ashamed of those fellow service members who have forgotten, or failed to understand the freedoms of non-violent protest our forefathers granted to us years ago. Stop the harrassment of those players in the NFL who are serious in protesting, as is their right, granted by our Constitution. As veterans, we need to stand up for the principles of our Constitution, not the symbols of our existence. The flag is our banner, but not our heart and soul. As veterans, we should protect, not threaten, those who protest non-violently.
User Sean1990 (Opens a pop up layer) Occasional Contributor
I think you're missing the point. And you're missing it badly.
The veterans of USAA who are asking USAA to end their sponsorship of the NFL are not saying that anyone in this country doesn't have the right to protest (nonviolently) about anything. They most certainly do, and that right is enshrined under the First Amendment, and has been protected by you, me, and everyone else who has worn the uniform of our country for more than 200 years.
However, the First Amendment only prevents the government from infringing on speech, not private employers. This is a common misconception. Many, if not most, employers legally put varying amount of restrictions on this right, with relation to the job and employer. That includes the NFL, who in the past has rigorously enforced this, including requiring players to remove attire with words of faith or politics, prior to speaking in an NFL-related forum. It happens all the time, and it's almost always appropriate, because it keeps football about football.
The reason is this: NFL players have their public forum ONLY because of their ability to play football. That's it. They were not given that spotlight because anyone cares about their political opinions or specific causes. Being good in a sport doesn't mean your political opinion is more important, or your social cause is more worthy. Whether one agrees with your opinion or with your cause (or not) is irrelevant. Let that sink in, Ted. I suspect (but of course don't know for sure) that you agree with the political cause that the NFL players are demonstrating for during the National Anthems. Would you feel the same about their "right" if you didn't agree?
Here's another example for you, Ted: I'm an airline pilot, and in my job have a PA microphone and hundreds of captive listeners. That PA was given to me primarily for safety reasons, and to a lesser extent, for informative reasons. There are strict limitations on what I am supposed to and not supposed to say. Do you think it would be appropriate if I used that PA to subject my passengers to discourses of my political opinions? If I did, and passengers complained, would you defend me and claim it's my "right" to do so? I bet you wouldn't. And you shouldn't, whether or not you agreed with me. Moreover, my employer would not, and I would be fired.
The worst part about the situation (and the primary reason USAA members are outraged) is that the method of protesting they chose is one that is taken by a majority of Americans (according to polls) as an insult. Extrapolated to veterans, you are now talking about an overwhelming majority. I know the players claim it's not their intention to insult veterans, but that doesn't matter. If veterans (or any other American) takes insult by someone disrespecting our flag on television, then their act IS insulting. And don't pretend that they don't know this. They most certainly do.
As an aside, and on a practical note, what do you expect to gain with a protest, if you force someone to watch it when all they wanted was politics-free football? Moreover, if your protest does nothing but insult your intended audience? Seriously? Personally, I actually agree with much of what Kapernick originally said, but now, since he (and the rest of the NFL) have continuously insulted my 22 years of military service, I couldn't give a rat's behind if he lived or died. Not to mention, the new overwhelming apathy about anything he's ever said. How's that for an effective protest? It is, however, the single most polarizing thing to ever happen in American sports history.
As you said, the players have a constitutional right to non-violently protest. And as I said, I agree. However, they do not have a constitutional "right" to push it in my face against my will. It's stupid and counterproductive. I can turn it off, and I have. I can avoid spending money that will reward them, and I have. I (and other members) can try to get USAA to stop incentivizing them with our money, and we have and we will continue.
And finally, tell me, Ted: Aren't these USAA veterans that you're complaining about (and I) just as entitled to "protest" the NFL players' protest, as they are in the first place? It's just as non-violent. How come you heap praise on them, but nothing but scorn and invective on us? What's the difference? Is their opinion "better" than ours? Is it more "right"? Is that how the Constitution works in your mind?