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PAUL A. WEHRLE, San Clemente

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Avera’s take on the issue of kneeling by the NFL players for the national anthem at recent football games. Kneeling is not, in any way, a sign of disrespect for our veterans, the country or the flag.

These players are not turning their backs or demonstrating any other form of disrespect. They are simply calling more attention to the racial disparities and inequities that have existed in this country since its inception. These issues remain prevalent and have only been magnified by the election of a dangerous, ignorant and narcissistic sociopath as our president.

You say you support the players’ right to protest, but when they do, you call them out as disrespectful. You talk about “Building a Pyramid,” but to include states’ rights and World War I is ludicrous, but at least you didn’t include the recent two wars based on lies. No, Mr. Avera, money and financial success does not “trump” basic racial and socioeconomic issues in our or any country. If you haven’t looked, some of our civil rights, to include voting rights, are being rolled back right in front of your eyes. In case you might consider me one of those “left-wing” nut jobs, I served on active duty at least as long as you did, and retired at a higher rank.

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comments (12)

  • Thank you. Like you, I am a veteran — 22 years Active and Reserve service in both the Navy and Army, including Vietnam in 1968. If I could, I would kneel with them in protest against the division and inequality that exists between. us.

  • NFL kneelers disrespect our Flag and our National Anthem.

    @ Paul A. Wehrle

    I respectfully disagree with your take on the issue of Flag and National Anthem disparagers.

    Colin Kaepernick, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color”.

    First, America does NOT oppress black people and the inequities that still exist (because America certainly oppressed black people in the past) have nothing to do with racism. America is a good nation filled with many wonderful people. It’s far from perfect but it is not the racist nation leftists are so desperate to paint it as.

    Second, race relations tanked during the Obama administration. Although the media played the biggest role in this, Obama too injected himself in a negative manner enabling those who would divide America along racial lines. Hence, he invited BLM leaders (who have called for the execution of law enforcement officers) to the White House and tapped the chief race hustler, Al Sharpton, as an advisor on race relations (who marched with the BLM protestors when they called for police to be killed).

    The players would have no right to protest if the NFL and/or the teams made it a condition of employment. Because they haven’t, players are allowed to disrespect the tradition of standing, with hand on heart, and reciting the National Anthem. These are universal symbols that unite us as a nation. If the players wished to bring attention to their cause, they’re doing it WRONG! Many fans are turning away from pro football precisely because they view the players who kneel, and the NFL who allows it, as disrespecting our great traditions. That is why it has become such a heated topic.

  • David, David, more opinion, few facts, prejudice and its all President Obama’s fault.

    What if the player were a Jehovah Witness?

    Fact: The court ruled in West Virgina Board of Education vs Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943) that the 1st Amendment “protects people from being forced to participate in patriotic ceremonies that offend their conscience or beliefs.” Are you aware that the Supreme Court took it even further action in the case of Texas vs Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), when it ruled “that the right to burn the American flag was protected as a form of symbolic speech.”

    Given that race and religious discrimination are protected classes under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, I seriously doubt the NFL, or any other group for that matter, with the exception of White Supremacist, NeoFascist or Ku Klux Klan groups, would risk civil right’s challenge related to protected classes.

    The NFL rulebook makes no mention of the national anthem. But the game operations manual does.

    For your information David, here’s what the game operations manual says regarding the national anthem,:

    “The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition.

    The key word here, David, is SHOULD, not must.

    Never forget, David, that prejudice is an emotional commitment to ignorance.

    • Joanna, are you being deliberately obtuse or do you not bother to read what I actually write and assume you know a head of time my thoughts and then prepare an answer to your straw man?

      Here is an earlier statement of mine to YOU regarding the case of the JWs,

      “West Virginia Board of Education vs Barnette was a case involving the Jehovah’s Witnesses who actually did and do have a religious reason for not pledging allegiance to the flag and I would agree completely with the decision in that case.”

      Furthermore, the West Virginia Board of Education is a government entity and the First Amendment applies to restricting government entities, not private citizens or companies…like the NFL, or NBA.

      Here is what 9 legal scholars had to say on the issue:

      “I reached out to nine legal experts and asked them a simple question: Can the NFL legally do what the president wants them to do? More to the point, can NFL players be fired for exercising their constitutional right to free speech in this way?”

      “All agreed that the Constitution limits what government can do on this front, but not what private companies like the NFL can do. “The First Amendment to the US Constitution is specifically designed to limit government officials and not private businesses,” Keith Whittington, a professor at Princeton University, told me.”

      “Ultimately, “this is a contracts question, not a constitutional question,” says Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Law School. “The issue boils down to whether or not NFL owners have the contractual right to fire players for this type of behavior. The answer is ‘likely yes.’”

      The above, from this web site:

      This is part of what is known as the State Action Doctrine where the the 1st through 14th Amendments apply to state action, not private citizens or private companies like the NFL (although there are exceptions).

      Thus, the NFL players could be fired, fined, or otherwise restricted from kneeling during the national anthem by the NFL or team itself. This is precisely what occurred in the three cases I previously cited to YOU, cases you chose NOT to address because to do so would undermine your narrative.

      So, when you cite WV Board of Edu. vs. Barnette to support your narrative, you are applying it in a manner inconsistent with how the court ruled. WV Board of Edu. was a government entity imposing its will on a citizen as opposed to a non government company, the NFL, on its employees. Therefore, there is NO challenge to civil rights including free speech. Indeed, the NBA forced former NBA guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf to stand for the National Anthem. He had initially elected not to stand for the National Anthem during his breakout 1995-96 season with the Denver Nuggets.

      Thus, the NFL could make standing for the National Anthem a condition of employment and it would NOT be a violation of civil rights. This is why so many Americans fault not only the flag denigrators, but the NFL as well because they could solve the issue but choose not to. Your citing of NFL rules is irrelevant to your case, I already recognize they haven’t done the right thing and made standing a condition of employment thereby allowing the players to disrespect our flag and National Anthem.

      I also recognize that flag burning and KKK rallies are protected activities. It is sad that some feel the need to engage in such activities and it is duly noted that you have publicly acknowledged that YOU would disrespect our flag and National Anthem by kneeling next to a man (Kaepernick) who didn’t bother to vote, wears socks with pigs dressed up like cops, and T-shirts with the face of that murdering thug, Che Guevara, emblazoned on them.

      Truly a sad situation.

  • Your assessment of the Board of Education decision is correct, but your position that kneeling disrespects the flag remains personal opinion.

    It was a military retiree that recommended kneeling, because an able bodied person sitting would be seen as disrespectful. I agree, although there is no law preventing it.

    As a result of the military retiree’s comment, the protesters took to kneeling with their right hand over their hearts.

    I have asked a number of my military friends, some who served in Vietnam, and they were also of the opinion that they were not disrespecting the flag. The author of this letter to the editor is former military, as well.

    I have asked you previously whether you had served, and you ignored my question. Why was that?

    I agree with you that there are a lot of good and wonderful people that make up America. But there are also a lot of haters, and they have rallied together thanks to Trump’s hate filled remarks about non-Christians, those of differing ethnicities, and people of color. Because of Trump’s remarks I know one Hispanic woman who now never leaves the house without her U.S. Passport, citizenship and marriage certificates..

    I disagree with your remark that “America does not oppress black people and the inequalities that exist have nothing to do with racism.”

    Inequality exists in all sectors of our society. It can be racially-based, or based on one’s sex or gender, gender identity, sexual orientations or religious belief.

    Is not refusing to sell or rent a house based solely on the color of one’s skin not oppressive behavior based on racism? A recent University study involving whites and blacks, with similar qualifications, showed that whites had a higher rate of being called back for a second interview.

    Deny all you want, but discrimination and inequality are alive and well today, whether it is racial, ethnic, gender, sex, or religion based. One does not have to look far to find it.

    As for Kaepernick not voting, I was disappointed that he didn’t vote, but I understand his reasoning. Furthermore, that was never the issue here. The issue was kneeling.

    • So who wants to ask the question about the Olympics? Who will be the first athlete to kneel or refuse to stand on the awards podium? they used to get after athletes who used that ceremony as a method of protest. they even got after athletes who were shoe-less or not in “Awards Uniform” approved attire. As a veteran I has issues with disrespect to our flag. I have a strong attachment to it because I literally served under it. I was looking down the barrel of an M-60, waiting for my commander to order open fire, quiet as the grave and all you could hear was this popping, snapping sound. I’m prone. Looking up to the sound, it’s our colors snapping and popping in the the light breeze. My father was buried under that flag. I will be buried under that flag, my oldest son and his sister will be buried under that flag.
      My only concern with how our athletes treat the flag is using the circumstance to reach millions of others on national television. If they don’t want to participate then stay off the field until the anthem is over. I recall seeing military members running for the indoors when colors would sound on the base. they didn’t want to stop and salute, was too much trouble maybe but that was their thing… I understand and agree that there are issues with every citizen that is not a middle-aged white man. Shaming and burning the flag is not the way to go about it. I would suggest that those who think it’s a good idea come up with something else. I have not watched a game this season. The first time an athlete burns, spits on, or disrespects the flag in the Olympics… that will be the end of that for me as well. these are National sports and competitions. How do you compete for America and then shame your nation? what does that tell our children? What does that say about your national pride and those who support or avoid the issue?

    • Standing for the National Anthem unites ALL Americans

      @ Joanna

      Your statement, “…but your position that kneeling disrespects the flag remains personal opinion.”

      Really? Then I am certainly in good and copious company.

      According to the Nielsen ratings, NFL viewership has dropped 18.7 % since 2015. It was in 2016 that Kaepernick began his denigration of our flag and National Anthem. From SportsMoney we find this:

      Last year, the NFL lost about a million regular-season viewers versus the 2013 and 2014 seasons. It represented about a 6% fall-off ― enough to be easily noticed and maybe even cause a little concern, but it could be written off as a one-year blip.
      Last year’s seepage has turned into a major break in the dam. The league is now down about three million viewers per game from 2013 and 2014. When the specific teams appearing, the scope of the telecast and the week of the season are taken into account, the decline is even more dramatic: more than four million viewers, or in excess of 20%.

      Some sponsors have dropped their contracts with NFL kneelers. Some advertisers have, or are threatening to, cancel their advertisements with the NFL.

      If sitting (or kneeling) for the National Anthem is not disrespectful, why did Marshawn Lynch stand for the Mexican National Anthem and then sit for OUR National Anthem?

      Why did members of the Jacksonville Jaguars stand for “God Save the Queen” when playing in London, but took to kneeling for OUR National Anthem? If this is supposed to be about mistreatment of blacks by law enforcement, why are these players kneeling/sitting for OUR National Anthem and standing for other nations’ national anthems, nations who have also had a history of mistreatment or racism?

      Why is it announced at sporting events, “All rise for OUR National Anthem? Have you ever heard them suggest participants could take a knee or sit?

      Why is it that other nations also recognize that standing is the proper behavior when the national anthem is played? In China, it is the expectation that folks stand for the national anthem and one could be arrested for not doing so. In the country where my wife is from (she is not white), the national anthem is played morning and evening and ALL stand. Not standing is seen again, as disrespectful and neither she nor the friends of hers I’ve spoken to have EVER seen an individual not stand for their national anthem.

      Your statement, “It was a military retiree that recommended kneeling…”

      This is what Nate Boyer, the veteran you’re referring to had to say, “That’s how it all started with Colin and I, neither of us knew that kneeling would be the result of our conversation. Colin wanted to sit, I wanted him to stand, and so we found a common ground on a knee alongside his teammates.”

      Boyer went on to say that he’s caught a lot of flak from his fellow veterans. He expressed a desire for the hate and division to end but as former secret service agent, Dan Bongino, has observed, “Liberals destroy everything they touch. The NFL, Halloween, Christmas, American history, healthcare, the economy… They’re a forest fire.”

      The hate usually begins anew when leftists demand the rest of Americans comply with their latest departure from reality whether its the confusion with sex, misuse of personal pronouns, which restroom to use, it’s attack on white people, advocacy for segregated events such as college graduations, or its continual attack on the rights of people to hear the speaker of their choice and the violence they inflict to prevent such choices from being enjoyed. Because of the hate from the left, most Trump supporters I know will not wear a Trump hat or otherwise publicly display support for him for fear of being assaulted or their property vandalized.

      ALL veterans I’ve personally spoken to think kneeling is disrespectful to OUR flag and National Anthem. About a third to a half of those I’ve worked with over the years are veterans and those whose views I’m privy to, with one exception, view this kneeling as disrespectful.

      Your question to me, “I have asked you previously whether you had served, and you ignored my question. Why was that?”

      I did not ignore your question, I answered it. Here is a quote from my 3/17/17, 2:07 PM post to YOU,

      “I served in the Navy for six years active and two in reserve beginning just after the Vietnam Nam war ended. In the post Vietnam era, we were not well treated either though there were no protests that I ever saw or heard about. The mistreatment was bad enough that several years after I left North Chicago, the sailors there (NTC Great Lakes) rioted and tore up the strip outside the base.”

      I leave you with a short (5 minute) video clip by a black on what the 5 biggest problems facing blacks are, none of which involves racism:

    • Strong families and dedication to education is the road to success.

      @ Joanna

      Booker T. Washington was the founder of the Tuskegge Institute in Alabama and a celebrated black civil rights activist. In his 1911 book, My Larger Education, Washington wrote of W.E.B. Dubois (pan African activist) and other racial agitators words that are even more applicable to present-day race agitators: “There is [a] class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. … Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays.”

      Washington continued: “Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs. … There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who do not want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.” (paraphrased from an article by Mark Alexander)

      Al Sharpton, who Obama invited to the White House on many an occasion, fits that description to a T; so does Jesse Jackson.

      Obama’s religious mentor, Jeremiah Wright said, “‘God Bless America’? No, no, no, G-d d–m America! … G-d d–m America!”

      Black economist, Walter E. Williams has observed:

      “In 2016, in 13 of Baltimore’s 39 high schools, not a single student scored proficient on the state’s mathematics exam. In six other high schools, only 1 percent tested proficient in math. In raw numbers, 3,804 Baltimore students took the state’s math test, and 14 tested proficient. Citywide, only 15 percent of Baltimore students passed the state’s English test.”

      “Last spring, graduation exercises were held at one Baltimore high school, 90 percent of whose students received the lowest possible math score. Just one student came even close to being proficient. Parents and family members applauded the conferring of diplomas. Some of the students won achievement awards and college scholarships. Baltimore is by no means unique. It’s a small part of the ongoing education disaster for black students across the nation. Baltimore schools are not underfunded. Of the nation’s 100 largest school systems, Baltimore schools rank third in spending per pupil.”

      “What’s the NAACP response to educational fraud? At a 2016 meeting, the NAACP’s board of directors ratified a resolution that called for a moratorium on charter schools. Among the NAACP’s reasons for this were that it wanted charter schools to refrain from “expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate” and “cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious.” Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys is a charter school. In 2016, 9 percent of its students scored proficient on the state’s math test. This year, over 14 percent did so. It’s in the interest of black people for more of our youngsters to attend better schools. However, it’s in the interest of the education establishment — and its handmaidens at the NAACP — to keep black youngsters in failing public schools.”

      Black economist, Thomas oSwell has observed:

      “One of the few bright spots for black children in American ghettos have been some charter schools that have educated these children to levels equal to, and in some cases better than, those in affluent suburbs.
      You might think that this would be welcomed by those who are so ready to do “favors” for blacks. But you would be dead wrong. Democrats who have been in charge of most cities with sizable black populations, for decades, are on record opposing the spread of charter schools. So is the NAACP.”

      Black commentator, Larry Elder, made these observations:

      “A Rasmussen poll taken in 2013 asked American adults, “Are most white Americans racist?” “Are most Hispanic Americans racist?” and “Are most black Americans racist?” Of the three groups, the winner was blacks.

      Thirty-seven percent said most blacks were racist; 18 percent felt most Hispanics were racist; and 15 percent said most whites were racist.”

      He went on to describe how “Cornell University’s Black Students United were engaging in racism — against blacks. The BSU complains that the prestigious Ivy League school admits too many blacks — from Africa and the Caribbean. “We demand that Cornell Admissions … come up with a plan to actively increase the presence of underrepresented Black students on this campus,” the BSU student group said in its demands. “We define underrepresented Black students as Black Americans who have several generations (more than two) in this country.”

      Hold the phone. Isn’t the mantra of modern higher education “diversity,” “inclusion” and “overcoming disadvantage”? If so, the black African and Caribbean students would seem to nail all three.”

      “BSU might want to consider the letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal written by a man from Congo:

      “I grew up in the Congo and have numerous friends in the U.S. from the Congo and other African countries who are here for an education or a better life. Every one of them is grateful for the opportunity to secure an excellent education. … Most come here from different cultures with minimal money and limited English language skills. Interestingly, I’ve never heard one complain about discrimination, obstacles or being a victim. Rather, they are grateful.”

      To close this rather scattered compendium of black thought, consider Jason Riley’s book, Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed

      The combination of black race hustlers and patronizing white liberals’ need to assuage their white guilt (even if some are well meaning), and the larger black community who have misplaced trust in these two groups, are a net drag on black advancement socially and economically.

      Blacks will succeed to the extent they shed the victim mentality and embrace a strong nuclear family where children are raised in homes nurtured by both parents.

  • Sorry, David, but even Snopes says you are misinformed.

    In September 2017, as many criticized the “take a knee” protests by National Football League players as anti-military, readers wrote in to ask if a veteran had played a role in Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem in protest of police killings of African Americans.

    Army Special Forces veteran Nate Boyer has said that his conversations with Kaepernick influenced the former NFL player to kneel, rather than sit, during the anthem.
    U.S. Army veteran Nate Boyer convinced Colin Kaepernick to kneel, rather than sit, while protesting police brutality during the national anthem.

    Kaepernick began his protest by sitting on the bench during the anthem prior to a preseason game on 14 August 2016 when he was playing for the San Francisco 49ers. He was not in uniform at the time. The protest began garnering coverage when journalist Jennifer Lee Chan captured him sitting (this time in uniform) in a photograph prior to the team’s third preseason game on 26 August 2016.

    Two days later, Kaepernick spoke to reporters about the protest. The encounter included this exchange:

    Green Beret and NFL player Nate Boyer confirmed he convinced the quarterback to “take a knee,” rather than sit, during the national anthem.

    • Ruth Bader Ginsburg Calls Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem Protest ‘Dumb’

      @ Joanna

      When asked by the news site’s global anchor, Katie Couric, what she thought of the protest, Justice Ginsburg said: “I think it’s really dumb of them. Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and disrespectful.”

      “I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag-burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do,” she added. “But I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”

      The above, quoted from the NY Times, Oct. 11, 2016

      Your statement, “Sorry, David, but even Snopes says you are misinformed.”

      Here, from Snopes as well as the quote YOU posted above:

      Green Beret and NFL player Nate Boyer confirmed he convinced the quarterback to “take a knee,” rather than sit, during the national anthem.

      My statement from above which includes a quote from Nate Boyer:

      ‘This is what Nate Boyer, the veteran you’re referring to had to say, “That’s how it all started with Colin and I, neither of us knew that kneeling would be the result of our conversation. Colin wanted to sit, I wanted him to stand, and so we found a common ground on a knee alongside his teammates.”
      Boyer went on to say that he’s caught a lot of flak from his fellow veterans.’

      How is my statement, which includes the direct quote of Nate Boyer, any different from Snopes?

  • One again you you take the story out of context.

    Here are her other remarks, regarding your quote.

    ‘WASHINGTON — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a statement on Friday expressing regret for her critical comments on protests by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other National Football League players seeking to draw attention to police brutality and racial injustice.

    In an interview published Monday, she had called the players’ decision to kneel during the national anthem dumb and disrespectful. On Friday, she said she should have held her tongue.

    “Some of you have inquired about a book interview in which I was asked how I felt about Colin Kaepernick and other N.F.L. players who refused to stand for the national anthem,” she wrote in a note to reporters. “Barely aware of the incident or its purpose, my comments were inappropriately dismissive and harsh. I should have declined to respond.”

    It was the second time this year that Justice Ginsburg has disavowed public comments. In July, after a series of interviews expressing disdain for Donald J. Trump, she issued a similar statement.

    The recent comments came in an interview with Katie Couric of Yahoo News. Justice Ginsburg was there to discuss a new book, and Ms. Couric asked about the protests. “Would I arrest them for doing it?” Justice Ginsburg said of players. “No.”

    And NO, I would not support an able bodied person sitting for the National Anthem, or the burning of the flag, despite the fact that they have a Constitutional right to do. But I also would not call for the repeal of the 1st Amendment.

    I don’t have a problem with kneeling, however, becausing kneeling is a sign of respect. We kneel in prayer, we kneel beside a fallen comrade, etc..

    How is your quoting of Boyer different from Snopes? Snopes didn’t take it out of context. They published the entire discussion..

    You have a right to your opinion, I have a right to mine. End of discussion.

  • I agree with you. And disagree with Avera. And I probably served longer than both of you, and probably at higher rank(s).

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