Kneel with them: They protest the government the rest of you say you hate

Riddle me this: the national anthem and the American flag represent democracy, formerly known as the United States, correct?

Democracy is sustained (and skewed) by the laws that are written and enforced by government.

Government is bad; at least that’s what Trump supporters and Fox News say.

So why is it bad to protest government by kneeling when the national anthem is played?

During the Reagan and post-Reagan years, Republicans have painted government as the enemy of the people. Government is wasteful, invasive, bloated. Remember Reagan’s quote about the scariest thing one could hear? “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

Government can’t do anything right, so America privatizes prisons, public education and deregulates the free markets. This way, these institutions can run as swimmingly as private health insurance.

The post office periodically raises the rate of a postage stamp, and aren’t they the incarnation of the devil government?

Sometimes, people even have to wait in line at the post office, and that is un-American. I may start kneeling at the post office and encourage others to do the same. Americans shouldn’t have to wait.

Trump was elected because he didn’t represent government. (Isn’t that an understatement?) America is witnessing the split of the Republican party because many in it don’t believe in government. Ironically, many of those are in government but have made their careers out of denouncing it. If we’re keeping score, I believe they’re winning because they’re proving to themselves and the world that government can’t do anything right. Self-fulfilling prophesy?

So, you have mostly black guys in the NFL who are protesting government, because they don’t think government is doing right by people of color. And whites are up in arms. Whites are burning their NFL football jerseys, boycotting games, protesting the right of these players to protest the national anthem, which is a symbol of government, the evil they’ve come to hate anyway.

I’m perplexed. It’s as if the United States is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. You have armed Bundy-ites occupying federal lands and using violence against said government, and they are seen as heroes by their brothers-in-arms. And not just the merest of arms. These guys take their arms seriously, Rambo style. And they use them.

But if the disaffected NFL players used arms, they would be labeled thugs. And they are peacefully protesting government for things such as over-use of force resulting in killing people of color in and out of custody; the systematic dismantling of black communities through mass incarceration. They know blacks have been commodified to feed the prison system. To them, criminal justice as carried out by government is a farce.

Think about it. Crack was portrayed as an evil drug because it was primarily used by the black community. Cocaine was merely recreational because it was used by the white community. The penalties for black crack addicts and white cocaine users were unequal. How many rich white kids got off scot-free when busted using cocaine, but poor black kids were hustled off to prison?

The opioid epidemic, fueled by doctors and pharmaceutical companies who’ve made patients dependent on painkillers, who then turn to heroin to get their fix, is treated as a medical crisis, and talk of rehabbing these addicts is at the forefront.

Somehow, the government is kinder and gentler to white addicts.

So, why is it so bad for NFL players to protest government? And why aren’t all of those government-haters kneeling along with them?

It’s as if people aren’t as color-blind as they pretend to be.

Donna Steele, a retired educator, hails from Alabama and made Hancock County her home in 2011. She can be reached at