On Monday, the city council of Reno, Texas, passed a resolution declaring that kneeling during The Star-Spangled Banner is "not only un-American," but also "one of the highest forms of disrespect anyone can show to the sacrifice and service of our country's military members, veterans and first responders."
The resolution also condemned comments made last month by Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D–Texas) as "false." O'Rourke, who's running against Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas), said he could "think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up, or take a knee, for your rights, any time, anywhere, in any place."
You could probably count on one hand the number of players who've knelt during the playing of the national anthem so far this NFL season. The debate over kneeling or otherwise protesting during the national anthem has raged on ever since August 2016, when then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick didn't stand for the song. While Kaepernick was protesting police brutality against African Americans, the fight has long since ceased to be about the legitimate debate over policing practices. Instead it is now the province of partisans and culture warriors.
Reached by Reason, Reno Mayor Eric Hunter concedes that "un-American" might not have been the best term to describe the protests. But Hunter stands by the gist of the resolution. Kneeling is "disrespectful to veterans and the sacrifices they have made to our country," he says. And while Hunter supports players' "right" to kneel, that "doesn't mean we can't disagree with it."
As for O'Rourke? Hunter emphasizes that "we disagree with a candidate for senator saying [kneeling is] the most American thing he can do or that someone could do."
O'Rourke, for his part, responded to the resolution by expressing his gratitude to law enforcement, first responders, and "everyone who has put their life on the line for this country." He also told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he's "grateful to the City Council of Reno for taking part in" the discussion surrounding civil rights.
Hunter, though, isn't as concerned with the police brutality issue. "The question most often not asked" when people talk about controversial police shootings, he says, "is why didn't that person that got shot…comply with those officers' orders?"
"If they had," Hunter adds, "then we wouldn't be where we're at."
And so the culture war rages on.
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