Down on One Knee and True to the Flag

Down on One Knee and True to the Flag September 25, 2017


Jesus Is Kneeling With Them

Since when did kneeling become disrespectful?   Once again, the President has lied, calling kneeling during the national anthem an act of disrespect for the flag.  And no one is calling him on his misuse of this word.

Disrespectful?  How can the figure of a man on one knee with his head bowed ever be seen as disrespectful? This is a prayer position. It is a part of the ritual in many churches. This is exactly the posture of entry made by Catholics just before they sit in their pew.

If God is honored by this posture, how can the flag be insulted by it?

The picture above this post is of Tim Tebow, kneeling to pray before a game. And there is no difference between this and Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem, except that Tebow is praying for himself, and Kaepernick is praying for the suffering of people he doesn’t even know.

This position, one knee and humility, is the posture of love professed and marriage sought. If women the world over are honored by this posture, how can the flag be dishonored by it?

It isn’t complete, militaristic conformity on the playing field – because the players who are kneeling are bringing into our national hymn singing the suffering of black and brown bodies in this nation we love. But why is it disrespectful to lift up suffering?

Isn’t that what the crucifix lifts up, in the front of Catholic churches? Isn’t this what Holy Week lifts up in the most sacred time of the church year?

And isn’t part of the lifting up of suffering the act of falling to your knees?

So what is the President, who should be so busy sending the Navy and the Marines in to Puerto Rico to help them in their dire distress, foaming at the mouth about?

The only disrespect I can see in this picture is the President’s disrespect for suffering – and his sneering disregard for racial injustice.

Some commentators say Trump got mad about Sen. McCain’s refusal to vote for Graham Cassidy, the awful bill that would eviscerate the AHA, and he is taking that anger out of black athletes.

But I think Trump is so thin-skinned, he is boiling over with rage about all the athletes who for months now have declined to come to the White House because he is there, and he is having a hissy fit about it now.

Meanwhile, he still cannot bring himself to condemn white men marching in Charlottesville chanting “Blood and Soil” and carrying KKK and Nazi flags. And doesn’t this demean our flag? Isn’t it an insult to carry those flags, that represent values antithetical to America?

And while all this Twitter storm of insults rages from the Oval Office, 3.5 million Puerto Ricans are wading through stagnant water that does not recede, is fouled with sewage and riddled with disease.  They have no water, no fuel for their generators, no refrigeration for medicines like insulin, no homes, no schools, no hospitals. And the President is not even paying attention.

He could be sending in the Navy. And the Marines. A few hospital ships.

He could be restoring the FEMA budget he is still insistent on cutting.

He could take public note of the fact that national athletes raise more money for charity than anyone else can, and he could be asking them humbly to get going on that now.

Instead, he is using the flag as a substitute for his own ego – it is him the athletes are dishonoring, not the flag.  And there is nothing in him that has earned honor in the past eight months.

If they knelt to him, he’d probably like it.  He loves bowing and scraping – he likes to open cabinet meetings with a round of praise for himself.

And my gut tells me that he has so identified himself with the flag that he cannot separate what is said about him from what is said about the flag.

The flag is strong enough, and big enough, to wrap us all in its bars and stars, even Trump. But he shouldn’t take pride in that, for the flag also embraces prisoners, drug addicts, winos, swindlers, you name us.

Like Christ, the flag does not discriminate against its children, it enfolds and embraces. It brings us together.

But the President’s greatest pleasure, repeatedly, is to tear us apart. And he especially likes to shame men who are black and brown.  Donald, you’re Archie Bunker trying to be President from your armchair, all thumbs and insults as you work your phone to Tweet out a new snarl everyday.  For shame!
Image: Tim Tebow, Tebowing. wikimedia commons.



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