Those who kneel are making a public statement in the most dignified, respectful—and respectable—manner imaginable. They’re not standing with militant fists in the air or obscene fingers raised. They’re assuming the posture of prayer. What could be less threatening—and more articulate?
They’re saying this country must and can do better. It’s an expression of hope. Those who choose to stay in the locker room are (I hate to say this) perpetuating the status quo in which the whiter and more privileged among us look away, refusing to acknowledge what we all now know, thanks to body cams and cell phones and people willing to get involved. And what we all now know is that those who are not "white" are frequently treated much more harshly by law enforcement, the judicial system and employers than their caucasian neighbors .
Club owners’ willingness to go along with Goodell’s cowardly stance is ironic. Wealthy before they acquired their teams, they’re further enriched by the talent and labor and deliberate exposure to danger of the very people they're now willing to deprive of the right to express themselves.
Goodell’s decision is, of course, hailed by the Bully-in-Chief, who has gone so far as to suggest that players who take a knee
But kneeling in protest when the anthem is played? There’s nothing confusing about that. It is a message. It is the equivalent of speech. Emma Gonzalez, Parkland, Florida school shooting survivor, stood for four minutes in silence during her recent speech at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. Her silence was a message. Kneeling during the national anthem is too.