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Letter: Response to Michael Reagan (Mukilteo Beacon, Guest View, Oct 11th)


November 1, 2017

I am not a combat veteran. I served my country by volunteering for the Peace Corps in the 1970’s (we all express our patriotism differently). Whereas I respect the views of Mr. Reagan, I disagree with his interpretation of the events related to football players taking a knee during the anthem.

We can all agree that the flag and the anthem are well-loved symbols of our country, but they are only symbols.

I cannot say what motivates another person, but I sincerely believe that when it comes down to it, people do NOT fight for flag and anthem – if they are motivated by patriotism, they fight for the principles those symbols stand for, as Mr. Reagan says, our ‘way of life.’

One of the most important of these principles is the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

This was captured most eloquently by a founding father (often attributed to Patrick Henry), “I may disagree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.” When people are fighting and dying for America, it is not for the piece of cloth that flies overhead, it is for the principles that flag stands for.

But being true to free speech is hard because it is not merely ‘popular speech’ that is protected (that would be easy); it is ‘unpopular speech’ that needs the strongest protections.

The football players choose this strategic moment to express their dissatisfaction with the way some members of society are treated because they know it is the best way to bring the conversation into focus. We should respect that because it is hard. But what is the end game of the protests?

To solve this dilemma, we need a program that will explore the grievances expressed by the players.

People from football, police departments, the Attorney General’s office and the public should examine ways in which the cultural divides can be healed and all citizens made to feel safe within our society.

If that is done with sincerity and resolve, the players will see that their efforts are not in vain and that society cares about all its members. Then they can justifiably stand with pride for the anthem. Can that happen in an environment where the president calls them SOB’s? Hard to tell.

Jim Corbett



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