The protests and riots that have ravaged the country this past month have brought with them demands of police and military personnel to kneel in solidarity with protesters. Donald Trump is under increasing pressure to soften his stance against protest kneeling. Kneeling is billed as a small concession to make—an easy olive branch, but Trump is right not to take a knee, and as the Commander in Chief and the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, he needs to set a strong example for our soldiers, police, and the American people. Taking a knee is not a small concession, it signals support for a growing movement of people who believe that America is a systemically racist nation and who are bent on destroying the Constitution and remaking America in an unrecognizable new mold.
Colin Kaepernick defined the meaning of taking a knee. In 2016, he articulated his reason very clearly: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” You can’t soften kneeling to mean something else or give it your own personal definition. Rational, human communication operates on agreed upon terms—you and I cannot have different definitions of the word apple and meaningfully discuss apples. Kneeling in the context of these protests has been defined. It is a physical gesture that makes an unambiguous statement. Kneeling supports the theory that America is a systemically racist nation.
The claim that America is a systemically racist nation has spread like a virus through our society, and recently has been formally promoted by the New York Times’ “1619 Project” (which argues that America can only be understood and viewed through the lens of slavery, beginning with the first slave ship’s arrival in 1619). The most vocal among us have accepted this subversive lie without really pondering what it means to say we are systemically racist. Even patriotic Americans (including many of our leaders) are confused, intimidated, and silenced, because they don’t know how to untangle the two issues that have been deliberately conflated—patriotism and racism. Any voiced opposition, even in defense of our country, is smeared as racist. This confusion and fear in the ranks leaves the pro-America forces scattered and weak.
To find our way out of the confusion, we have to begin with a first principle—a starting, foundational premise we know to be true and are willing to defend no matter the onslaught of the mob. That first premise must be that America is a great nation and that our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution are and always have been among the most, if not the most, honorable political documents ever devised by man. In short: America is not a systemically racist nation. We have to start there. That is the high ground and we have to hold it if we are going to win this war that is suddenly being waged against the very soul of our country. Make no mistake, this is a war targeted to destroy the American way of life.
The race issue in America has been hijacked. The plight of the black community has been, ironically, appropriated by radical leftists (many of whom are white liberals) to advance their own, anti-American agendas. (The real discussion should center on the destruction of the black family, as Katy Faust and Stacy Manning so masterfully explained last week.) Regardless, whatever policies have been implemented, whatever generational disadvantages have been codified, in spite of all that genuinely needs to be fixed today—we do not and cannot conclude that America is systemically evil.
The conundrum over kneeling cuts to the heart of the current crisis. It zeros in on the fundamental disagreement we must identify and fight. If we can understand and articulate why we oppose kneeling, the same principle will guide us through the smoke of this battlefield—to determine which conversations in the public debate are actually focused on finding paths toward opportunity for the black community and which are maliciously targeted at to destroy our nation.
Championing the black community and defending the flag are wholly compatible. If America is going to weather this storm, we have to be able to clearly articulate our beliefs and defend them—most critically we have to insist with unwavering zeal and courage that these two stances are not contradictory and refuse to be silenced by those who would use the label “racist” as a tool of intimidation and oppression.
This battle is critical, because a country cannot survive if its citizens believe it is fundamentally evil, and a country cannot galvanize a people and win a war without an articulable objective. If the enemies of America have hijacked the race issue and are driving mercilessly toward their objective—the soul of our country—we have to articulate our counter-position to mount a successful defense. Trump swore an oath to preserve and protect the Constitution; our soldiers and police take similar oaths to defend her from all enemies foreign and domestic. Donald Trump should stand tall and summarily fire anyone in his administration unwilling to publicly reject the lie that America is a systemically racist nation.
Do not cede this ground; deny the enemies of America this position. Our system of limited, self-government has afforded more freedom to more people than any other system in any time in the history of the world. Generations of Americans—white and black—have fought and died to defend the principles on which we were founded and by which we have thrived.
When people explain why they stand for the flag, often they point to the ultimate sacrifice paid by so many of our fighting men and women. But, why is it rational to die for a flag? It is rational only because of what the flag stands for—the principles it espouses. Our flag stands for the Constitution; it stands for our unique form of liberty that gives the most freedom to the most people; it stands for the dignity and honor of men and women successfully self-governing—a feat truly unmatched in human history.
America, by virtue of the form of government we enjoy, as crafted and defined by the U.S. Constitution, is the greatest nation on earth, and indeed in the history of the world. That’s a bold statement, but it is also true. Generations of Americans have believed that and have fought and died for that truth. If we believe that, too, we must stand up and voice it now. It is time to fight.