I'm not sure how to respond to the troubling rhetoric that bombards my Facebook news feed regarding the #TakeAKnee protest.
Here's a bullet list of questions that I'm asking myself. Feel free to use for yourself, if that is helpful.
- Is it possible to be both patriotic and to protest the inequalities that cause us to not live up to our greatest potential of our founding documents as expressed, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness….”?
- Do I agree or disagree that the people who are opposed to the #TakeAKnee protest would have hated Dr. King, or Rosa Parks, or the Woolworth lunch counter students with the same vitriol? What are the differences or similarities in this protest?
- I respect the flag and the anthem, in large part, to honor the women and men who've made the greatest sacrifices for our country in battle. In what ways are their sacrifices honored or dishonored when citizens participate in peaceful protests like #TakeAKnee?
- How is the football field more or less appropriate of a civic space for this protest?
- When is it a civic responsibility to question - with our public rhetoric and postures - the systems and actions of our government?
- In what way might Christians be confusing national patriotism with biblical allegiance in their (positive or negative) response to the #TakeAKnee protest?
- When is it a Christian responsibility to question - with our public rhetoric and postures - the systems and actions of our government?
- Think about the times I've heard rhetoric that says something like, "You're racist and you don't even know it."? And then the rhetoric, in response, that says something like, "We are not racist. Racism no longer exists." Is it possible that ridiculing the #TakeAKnee protestors or boycotting the NFL because of players' peaceful protest might be a racist response? Why or why not?
- If the #TakeAKnee protest is, in fact, misguided, what sort of civic harm could it lead to?
- If I a black brother or sister told me that respecting those who participate in the #TakeAKnee protest was one way to acknowledge and validate them in the pursuit of justice, would it be worth my support for their sake alone? Why or why not?
- If the President is not wrong in referring to the NFL players who would offer a peaceful protest as "sons of bitches", how should he have labelled the Nazi, white supremacist protestors in Charlottesville a while back?
- If I boycott the NFL because I believe the players are unpatriotic, were there any other concerns I've had about players' behavior in the past that might have caused me to boycott before now? (domestic violence, for example) How did I respond to those issues? Why boycott now? In what way is this behavior worse than all the others that would lead me to ridicule or boycott now?
- In what ways is boycotting the NFL (a perfectly legal, nonviolent protest of its own) similar to the "white flight" response to segregated schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces in the middle of the last century? In what ways is it different?
- If I'm not sure whether I should ridicule the #TakeAKnee protestors or not, here's a question I can ask myself. If it's (morally, civically, or religiously) right to ridicule or boycott, and I don't do it, what could be the result? Conversely, if it's (morally, civically, or religiously) wrong to ridicule the #TakeAKnee protestors or boycott the NFL, and I do it anyway, what could be the harm from that? If I'm not sure, on which side might it be wiser to err?
- (For those who are Christian) What sort of rhetoric most points toward the Christ of the Bible?
- If I'm not sure I've committed acts of racism with my words, what might happen if I asked my friends to be honest with me and to give me a little bit of help with my assessment?
- (For those who are Christian) If I'm pretty sure I'm not racist, but I care about loving God with all my heart and loving my neighbors as myself so much I want to be sure, what might happen if I ask not only my friends, but also the Holy Spirit to show me where I might be wrong? Would it be better to humbly repent in light of the possibility that I've sinned in racism even if it wasn't necessary or to avoid admitting that I might possibly be sinning? Which is the most Christian response? Is there any reason to fear humble repentance?
- If I don't give a damn one way or another, what might that mean about my heart?
- If a war veteran takes a knee, is she or he unpatriotic?
You might be interested in another post I've written about welcoming opportunities for self-assessment and repentance here: This Is An Opportunity To Repent
What questions would you add to the list above? How do you discern if you are promoting racism?