When is Protest Disrespectful?

In last week’s edition of “The Paladin”, Alexandra Foster argued that Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem of a country- which  he believes oppresses African Americans and other races of color- to be disrespectful. Foster argues that his act of defiance is discourteous to the thousands of soldiers who lay their lives down to protect our liberties and freedoms; but, in contrast, Kaepernick’s rebellious act is in recognition of the hundreds—nearly thousands—of African Americans killed by police in unjustifiable circumstances of excessive force. Regardless of his reason, Kaepernick clearly stood against a tradition synonymous with our very definition of patriotism, and that is ultimately the root of Foster’s argument. It is for this reason alone that We are truly baffled why Foster, a proud educated American, used this instance to accentuate her beliefs, especially when Kaepernick sits for what is perhaps the most patriotic ideal of them all—to bring awareness to racial disparities across the United States in support of America’s fundamental value of equality. We believe that Foster would have done herself—and this newspaper—a better service by contending the display of Confederate Flags throughout the United States, the state of South Carolina, and, more relevantly, Furman University.

To any Furman student, it would not be surprising to walk into a peer’s apartment, or dorm room, and see a confederate flag mounted on the wall, nor would it be surprising to see one waving proudly on the back of a pickup truck in downtown Greenville. While the flag itself is synonymous with Southern pride and its triumphs of the eighteenth and nineteenth century—let us disregard the racial controversy surrounding the flag for this argument—it is equally, if not more disrespectful, than Kaepernick’s protest. The flag represents a dark period in American history where our nation was divided in half, for anyone to raise a flag that was crafted in response to perhaps the most unpatriotic period of U.S history is to symbolically protest the unity of our nation. It is the unfortunate circumstance that some who raise the flag are unaware of their own deviance; likewise, these same individuals are unwittingly disrespecting the Union soldiers that sacrificed their lives for the unity of United States. Thus, they are disrespecting the same veterans Foster claims Kaepernick did not respect in his protest.

While Foster attempted to do our academic community justice by emphasizing the importance of respect for our veterans, she failed to recognize that there exists a flag—proudly hung across the South—that is overlooked as an invective against American unity. Thus, instead of attempting to discredit a protest meant to reunite our nation, we should all take a moment to reflect upon the words we write, and the flags we raise, to deduce whether we are respecting not only our veterans but, also, one another within our communities.



De’Sean Markley ‘19

Emmett Baumgarten ‘19

Trevor Reising ‘19


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