The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) branch in Strongsville, OH made a strong statement against NFL players who choose to kneel during the national anthem.
According to Fox News, the VFW in Strongsville put up a sign stating that they will no longer televise Cleveland Browns games. The sign says, “”We like our Browns – we love our flag more. Your games will no longer be shown here. God Bless America!”
Several players for the Cleveland Browns have followed quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s example — they have decided to kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality against minorities. Last year, Kaepernick received much praise and criticism when he remained seated while the anthem played before each game. The controversy has received a significant amount of attention from the media — especially since Kaepernick has yet to be signed by an NFL team.
The VFW has decided to stop televising the Browns’ games because they believe the players who do not stand during the anthem are disrespecting the country. Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill made his displeasure known on Facebook, saying that he won’t attend where football players “disrespect the veterans who earned them the right to be on that field.”
Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey spoke with Fox News saying ““Respect to all the veterans, respect to the military — we are not protesting against them. We have our reasons for doing what we did, and last night felt like the right time to do it, and that’s why we did it.”
While the football players do not intend to disrespect veterans, the VFW in Strongsville believe that their decision to kneel during the anthem is an affront to their service. On their Facebook page, they posted,
“So tonight, I asked the membership of my post, VFW 3345, what they thought of the Cleveland Browns players kneeling during the National Anthem and the coaching staff backing their decision. Just as I suspected, the “boos” nearly tore the roof off. Effective immediately, VFW Post 3345 will no longer televise any Cleveland Browns games! We will never support any person or organization who disgraces the flag or the anthem that we fought for and so many or our brothers and sisters have died for! Until a formal apology by this organization is publicized and the utter disregard to America ceases, we, as veterans of this great country will not stand for this! We love our Browns, but we love our flag more…God bless America and damn those who think differently! #RespectOurFlag”
The VFW has stated that they will continue their boycott unless the players issue an apology. It does not appear that an apology will forthcoming. The Browns issued the following response,
“As an organization, we have a profound respect for our country’s National Anthem, flag and the servicemen and servicewomen in the United States and abroad. We feel it’s important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition, at the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country, including the freedom of personal expression.”
The football players who have chosen to protest in the same way as Colin Kaepernick have received criticism from other football players as well as former football player and civil rights activist Jim Brown. In an interview with The Post Game, he said,
“I’m going to give you the real deal: I’m an American. I don’t desecrate my flag and my national anthem. I’m not gonna do anything against the flag and national anthem. I’m going to work within those situations. But this is my country, and I’ll work out the problems, but I’ll do it in an intelligent manner.”
Police brutality is a serious matter that must be addressed. However, there are probably better ways to draw attention to this issue. As Jim Brown said, it would have probably been better to deal with the problem in an “intelligent manner.” There are ways to stand against abusive police officers without disrespecting our nation.