Confession: I was on the anti-kneeling side of the argument when the debate was swirling around the NFL two years ago.
Like most of you, I love my country, and I was taught from a young age to stand with reverence during the National Anthem. It’s ingrained in me.
Also, I couldn’t put an actual face on what was being protested by the NFL players, which made it difficult for me to empathize with their position. Ignorantly perhaps, I couldn’t understand why the NFL players were causing so much commotion. I didn’t get it.
That was not the case on Saturday in Oxford, when a small group of people hijacked the Ole Miss campus to support flags, statues, relics and traditions that are obviously hurtful and painful to black people.
The Confederate protesters put an ugly face on a segment – hopefully a small and shrinking segment – of our population that has no place in my country, the country of which I remain proud.
But I was willing to sit idly by as though the Confederate support march was a mere nuisance. Not that I condoned their protest. I just didn’t give it much thought. That’s easy for me to do, since I’m just an old white guy.
It’s actually sad (for me) that I needed the players to kneel to point that out.
Maybe the real story here isn’t that the Ole Miss players kneeled during the National Anthem, but that it took Ole Miss players kneeling to help me, and hopefully others like me, to realize that what those Confederate protesters were doing wasn’t just a nuisance. It was hurtful to actual people. People that we care about.
For that, I feel like I owe the players an apology. I am sorry.
It took the brave act of a courageous few to shine that light where it needed to be shined through the peaceful act of kneeling during the National Anthem.
I’m still not a kneeler, but I wish I could have been there to kneel with those boys on Saturday.
In my mind, they are the true Rebels.
I support the players.