On this Flag Day, consider an end to culture of disrespect
When the visit to the White House of the National Football League champion Philadelphia Eagles was canceled last week, the typical separation of fact from fiction by most of the media was followed by the predictable negativity.
Flag Day seems a fitting time to intervene with the facts.
Four days before the official visit, the Eagles said 81 people were scheduled to attend. Background checks were made and accommodations set up. It was supposed to be a celebration and Eagles fans descended on Washington to once again feel good about the team’s first title in the Super Bowl era.
Two days later, the Eagles sent word 9 people would be attending, and most of them would not be players.
President Trump canceled the visit.
The Eagles players, who unlike many teams had all stood for the National Anthem during last year’s difficult NFL season, apparently are maintaining the country is lagging far behind in its dispensing of racial equality in the justice system. Apparently, the White House is a symbol of that. Apparently, this president’s criticism of players kneeling during the National Anthem, warranted a decision to reverse acceptance of the invite.
Lost in most media coverage are the most important points – the players sought time with President Trump to discuss their issues and that time was granted.
The discussion is warranted. The discussion is sorely needed, for the good of the entire country. The players were granted an important opportunity, one not available to most Americans. And it wasn’t enough.
On Friday, the president, who has established a record of pardoning people wrongly punished by our justice system, sweetened the pot. He told the players to come forward with names and cases in which racial inequality has been practiced by the justice system and he would look into those cases and consider pardons and freedom for those incarcerated.
So just who is handling this issue incorrectly?
Let’s put it this way. The players, some of them excellent community citizens and very capable of helping solve the issue at hand, were given a golden opportunity and turned it down. Why? To make a cultural point? To embarrass the president?
We think solving the problem of racial inequality – where it exists – is clearly more important than those things.
No matter where people stand on this issue, we all stand there as Americans. We can recognize problems and the need to improve the country on many issues while still being united as Americans.
And as such, honoring the stars and stripes that we celebrate this Flag Day by standing during the National Anthem is hardly an oppressive requirement or expectation. No amount of media handwringing and doctoring of issues can change that.
The players could help heal the fissures that have arisen in this country over the protests during last year’s football season by taking the president up on his offers. Seek an audience to discuss their worthy issues. Come forward with instances which they believe are examples of racially unequal application of justice.
Everyone can complain. It’s easy. But in this country, under this flag, our historic pattern is to solve problems.
The current posture of disrespect in many corners of this country does nothing to move the nation toward solutions and improvements where they are needed.
On this Flag Day, our hope is that our manner of discussion will evolve into a sincere effort to mutually solve our differences.