Taking a Knee: A Combat Veteran’s Perspective

Paul Derengowski, ThM

Last night I received an email, CC’d to a whole group of individuals, from a military veteran, as he attempted to defend all of the professional athletes these days taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem prior to their games.

His whole argument centered around an equation between what the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on years ago in respect to flag burning.

To the veteran, what the professional athletes are doing is the same thing as what the Vietnam protesters were during, back in the day when flag burning was in vogue.

Instead providing additional commentary to what I wrote back to him in response, I will simply reproduce that email exchange here. Is the veteran right? Are my responses apropos, as well as my questions? You decide. Because this is apparently not going to go away very soon.

Gary, you wrote the following (in quotes). My responses follow.

“If kneeling during the anthem is producing this type of discussion why did the nations highest court allowing open protect of many young men and women during the Vietnam era with regards to flag burning?”

What does demonstrating disrespect toward the whole country have to do with a misguided gripe about police brutality; one that includes a defense of thug and thief, Michael Brown? Your question, in other words, is too broad, if not simply irrelevant.

“These professional peaceful players have the same rights that were given to war protestors, wouldn’t you agree?”

What war are you talking about and how is a logical contradiction ever right? To protest is right, but to protest against the right to protest does not make an ounce of sense. And that is exactly what these “peaceful players” are doing every time they take a knee in disrespect toward the U.S. Flag, the National Anthem, and the U.S. Constitution, as well as all the lives, both lost and living, given to honor all three.

“I have not and will not do what they are doing but I understand their concerns: I am a 26 year veteran with two tours in combat. I love the nation and I honor the flag but I sworn to defend the Constitution and the Laws that govern our nation.”

Do you really understand? Because they don’t. Most of them are merely going through the motions and imposing whatever meaning they can find to support the idiocy. Colin Kaepernick, the original perpetrator, himself has never provided a clear, coherent reason for what he is doing. So, how can you understand something when he and they don’t?

Second, is it really relevant how many years of service you’ve provided or how many tours of duty you have engaged, when there is no rational reason for what these “peaceful players” are doing? Obviously, they are aware of others, like yourself, who are either alive or have given their lives in service to the country, and it has not changed their demeanor. Why or how should your service be any different?

Colin Kaepernick, Muslim terrorist sympathizer Linda Sarsour, and Colin’s Muslim activist girlfriend, Nessa Diab.

Third, since Kaepernick and the subversives, both on and off the field, are acting like the Socialist-Communists during the Vietnam War, then how are you loving the nation and honoring the flag, much less defending the Constitution, by siding with their irrational propaganda that is only designed to destroy what you claim to love, honor, and defend? Surely, when you spent time during your two tours of combat, when you engaged the enemy, it wasn’t with a bouquet of flowers, was it?

“What they are doing is according to their rights under the Constitution that many of my fellow soldiers, family and friends died to defend.”

Actually, they are contradictorily undermining those rights and abusing the Constitution to do it. Again, it does not make sense to protest the very thing that grants you the right to protest. You cannot have it both ways.

“We may not agree these professionals but it’s under the Laws that I promised to defend .”

We cannot agree with these “professionals” because logical contradictions are notoriously irrational. And given Mr. Kaepernick and his associates whole approach to whatever their gripe truly is, it only confirms that unless two be agreed, then they cannot walk together. If you, Gary, are defending the Law, and they obviously are not, then you are either going to have to impose the consequences for failure to obey the Law or your whole pretense about promising to defend the Law will turn out to be as much of a ruse as those wanting to subvert it.

I have chosen to forego commenting on your article, until you have either answered my questions in relation to your commentary or you have rebutted my comments in response to your questions.

All the best to you and thank you for your prior service to our great country.

Paul Derengowski

About the Author

President, Christian Apologetics Project PhD Candidate, Northwest University (2018) MA Apologetics w/ Honors, BIOLA University (2005) ThM, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (2003) MDiv, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (2000) BA Pastoral Ministry & Bible, Baptist Bible College (1992)

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