Definition Argument—TheAdmiral

On August 26, 2016, the announcer at Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco, California came over the loudspeaker, as before every game, and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise and remove your hats for the singing of our national anthem.” At that moment, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick dropped down to one knee and shocked the entire nation. From high school sporting events to the Olympic games, from ballparks around the country, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a tradition Americans adopted at the commencement of great sporting events that serves as the pride of our great nation. What began as a simple gesture of patriotism grew into one of the greatest traditions at America’s beloved sporting venues. To some Americans, the rendition of the national anthem brings a tear to the eye and a chill to the spine. But, for others, “The Star-Spangled Banner” represents the hypocrisy of a nation divided on the idea all not Americans have equal rights in “the land of the free”. (Key)

After the NFL football game on the August 26, 2016, Colin Kaepernick released a statement,

“I am not going to stand up and show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder”.

Many Americans may not agree with Kaepernick’s statements, but they still hold some truth. In some parts of the United States, police brutality is still a serious problem, especially with the minorities such as black Americans. Police officers continue to outrage a nation with multiple incidences of unnecessary extreme acts of violence towards individuals of color.

This deep-seeded feud between black Americans and law enforcement roots itself in the race riots during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. The Civil Right movement in the 1960s caused America to ponder the question, “Are all Americans treated equally?” Police brutality ravaged the lives of black Americans across the nation which cause race riots in major US cities and on college campuses.  While some Americans resorted to violence, others peacefully attempted to display their distaste for the unequal rights with sit ins. Unfortunately, public demonstrations of racial inequalities resulted in violence and police brutality regardless of how they began (Anderson). As a nation, the United Stated made great strides to protect the rights of all Americans; however, many black Americans feel that police brutality is still thriving in our great nation similar to the race riots of the sixties.

Police brutality during the civil rights movement resulted in violent and public actions toward black Americans by public servants paid to uphold the law. While police officers vowed to serve and protect society, many Americans questioned who exactly the police protected and felt black Americans remained vulnerable in a nation progressing toward equality. Police continued to harass black Americans even while they participated in peaceful protests. On February 1, 1960, the Greensboro 4 staged their first “sit in” at the Woolworth’s because they were permitted to buy merchandise at the store; however, they were not allowed to simply sit and buy a cup of coffee at the lunch counter. Their first meeting ended with a prayer, but after their peaceful protest grew, it turned into violent acts of police brutality toward the black citizens.  (Anderson).

Some cases of violence cause extreme outrage and rioting, like the case of Philando Castile, a black American who was pulled over for a faulty headlight. When the police officer pulled Castile over, Castile explained to the office that he had a firearm in his car and was also licensed to carry. The officer screams “Do not reach for it! Do not reach for it!” The dash camera from the police cruiser shows the officer firing shot into the driver side window of Castile’s vehicle. While the officer shot and killed Castile, he was acquitted of all charges. Castile’s girlfriend, an eye witness to the violent and senseless murder, recorded and broadcasted the incident live on Facebook for the world to see.

Kaepernick’s protest gained major attention, and was the topic of all major sports, and news networks across America. Since then, the protests grew in popularity among NFL players while spreading to the collegiate and high school levels. But, has Kaepernick’s  meaning of the protest been lost along the way? NFL players, like Kaepernick state that they kneel in protest of  police brutality, which is fine if that is their sole purpose. When you see so many players in the NFL just following along in others footsteps and kneeling, it begs the question of do they really know what or why they are protesting? Even future Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy stated in an interview “But just don’t do it (kneel) because other people are doing it. Don’t just do it because you think it’s going to make a statement.”

If Kaepernick was really trying to make a statement about police brutality, though possibly effective, this was the wrong time to do it. Like I previously stated, the National Anthem made its first appearance at the sixth game of the World Series in 1918 to honor all of the service men who fought overseas in the Great War, and that had made the ultimate sacrifice for the country they love so dearly. Military supporters, and military families across America understand the origin of the Anthem, and that is why a many Americans were so outraged.

Lee Greenwood’s song, “Proud to be an American,” is a great example that shows the love most have for this great country.  In the third stanza of his song, Greenwood states “, and I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free, and I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.”  His is statement is truly what being an American is all about. As an American, I love this great nation, because it is the land of opportunity. Not everyone may always agree with everything that is done, such as police brutality, but that does not mean that I do not love the nation that I call my home, and it does not mean that  Americans should take a knee for the things that we do not stand for.

Works Cited

Anderson, Terry H. Movement and the Sixties. Oxford University Press. 1995

Babwin, Don. “1918 World Series Started the U.S. Love Affair with National Anthem.” Chicagotribune.com, 4 July 2017, http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/ct-wrigley-field-national-anthem-20170703-story.html.

“God Bless the U.S.A. – Lee Greenwood.” Google Play Music. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2017.
.are.org/files/The%20Groningen%20Sleep%20Quality%20Scale.pdf>.

Little, Becky. “Why the Star-Spangled Banner Is Played At Sporting Events.” Why the Star-
Spangled Banner Is Played At Sporting Events – History in the Headlines. N.p., 25 Sept.
2017. Web. 29 Oct. 2017. .

“Philando Castile Killing: Police Video Sparks Outrage.” Philando Castile Killing: Police Video Sparks Outrage | USA News | Al Jazeera. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2017. .

“Tony Dungy Speaks Out on NFL Players Kneeling During National Anthem.” Intellectual Takeout, www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/tony-dungy-speaks-out-nfl-players-kneeling-during-national-anthem.

“The Lyrics.” NMAH | The Lyrics, amhistory.si.edu/starspangledbanner/the-lyrics.aspx.

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3 Responses to Definition Argument—TheAdmiral

  1. davidbdale says:

    Admiral, I think the best way to help here is to advise you on the timing of your delivery. The right time to deliver conclusions is after your reader has the background information and after you’ve laid out your premises. Trying to fill in with details after you’ve asked for the purchase is no way to sell your position. (But did I mention our money-back guarantee!? Denzel Washington drives one of these cars!)

    Your sequence:
    1. We use the anthem to create (or tap?) a spirit of national patriotism at public events.
    2. It’s origin (and continuing purpose?) is to honor our war dead.
    3. Some react with pride and gratitude for the service of our veterans.
    4. Others see the flag (or is it the anthem?) as a symbol of an oppressive society.
    5. All in attendance at big events are invited (persuaded? cajoled? pressured?) into standing to (salute the flag?) (sing or listen to the anthem?).
    6. Colin Kaepernick shocked the nation by taking a knee.

    The ambiguity of your claims confuses readers. Does the ballpark staff want to exploit the good feelings Americans have for the country to create a positive and grateful mood? Or is it paying a debt to the nation? Did Jimi Hendrix’s version at Woodstock honor the flag and country? or was it intended as an indictment as harsh as Kaepernick’s? or was he, like MLBaseball, just exploiting a ready symbol to whip up the crowd? Does the crowd associate the flag and anthem with war dead as you suggest? or is that history lost on most, who don’t remember how the tradition started or much care why we honor it? You say some continue to see the anthem (or is it the flag?) as a way to honor lost veterans. You say others see the one or the other as a symbol of oppression (perhaps as Hendrix saw it as a symbol of an empirical war machine). You let the readers decide (never let the readers decide!) whether there are mixed emotions at the invitation to salute, sing, put hand to heart for the anthem. Finally, in the sentence that should nail down the obvious claim that CK is the first to physically signal his contempt for the oppression he believes the flag symbolizes, you don’t connect the dots. You haven’t told us what he means by that kneel-down. He might just be ambivalent about being cajoled to salute Caesar. Could be anything.

    Paragraph 2. Your Sequence:
    1. The protest (we don’t know what the protest meant yet) made national news.
    2. Now, it’s multiplied but perhaps lost is original meaning. (See the problem here? We don’t know what the original meaning was yet, but we’re being asked to consider whether it’s changed.)
    3. Now you tell us the original intention. “I am not proud of a nation that oppresses its races. There are bodies in the street. ‘People’ are getting paid leave instead of jail time and job loss.”

    Now that you’ve identified (way too late) the definitive original meaning of CK’s protest, the VERY NEXT move is to nail those “bodies in the street” to the very real incidents of police shootings, killings, of black and “of color” Americans by police who escape consequences. Otherwise, you’re losing focus again.

    Paragraph 3. Your Sequence:
    1. You don’t do it. You let the obvious next move slide away.
    2. You backtrack from bodies in the street to “some truth.”
    3. You qualify with “some parts of the country.”
    4. You escape the real indictment with “brutality.”
    5. Your paragraph is not weak; it accuses police of extreme needless violence toward minority Americans, but it skips the step of associating KC’s protest with the precipitating episodes that make his indictment so obvious. Which ones can you name yourself without looking them up? You find them for us later, but we haven’t felt the passion behind the protest yet, and you’re about to take us even further from the white-hot present.
    6. You retreat to history.

    Go there, by all means, Admiral. Bring along every aspect of slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, George Wallace’s vehement condemnation of school integration. It’s all completely pertinent and powerful. But not until you nail Kaepernick to the very present NOW.

    Helpful? I’d appreciate your reactions.

    Like

  2. davidbdale says:

    You have made significant improvements, TheAdmiral, as recently as a few hours ago. I’m glad to see them. There is some sloppiness here and some obvious typographical errors that you may not be able to see yourself if you’ve read the words too many times. Consider having a very good proofreader give it a look before you add this to your Portfolio.

    A few notes.
    P1. You should drop Woodstock from your list of examples. Hendrix’s version did not start the show as you falsely claim, and it was not intended as a tribute. Your last sentence should refer to Kaepernick directly since he is clearly among those who, as you say, consider the anthem a symbol “of a nation that does not honor EVERYONE’S rights to live freely as human beings.”

    P2. You can say that police brutality is with us and has been with us since the civil rights movement, but you should be clear that Kaepernick’s statement is more specific than that. He uses the general term “oppresses,” which does not mean brutalizes, then he specifically references murdered people and paid leave which pretty clearly condemns police killings of black men.

    P3. You hint that the Castile case was followed by riots, but you don’t follow through. You say that riots followed the killing of Michael Brown, but you don’t go on the record about whether his death was a brutality case or not. In fact, you don’t go on the record about Castile either. Do you think it doesn’t matter to your argument whether the outrage is justified? You do seem to be arguing that police brutality against black Americans is a real phenomenon, and has been for generations. So why not be more specific about the cases you cite? There’s no point being vague about them.

    P4. Nobody likes a rhetorical argument in the middle of a logical chain, TheAdmiral. Answer your own questions here. Either the meaning of CK’s protest was clear from the beginning but has been lost, or it was never clear at all and the “movement” is just a series of unclear gestures from anyone who has a gripe or who wants to express solidarity with teammates and fellow players. If your ultimate conclusion is that nobody should be taking a knee at the Anthem—even for the best of reasons!—then you’ve got to be annoyed that the kneelers are willing to infuriate patriots for no good reason at all. Say so.

    P5. It’s good to acknowledge that KC has real reason to be outraged by brutality, and it’s good to put the situation into historical perspective, but you need to stud this paragraph with some particular references to avoid the appearance of being unfamiliar with cases. I’ve mentioned a few of them in earlier notes.

    P6. These examples are good. Perhaps you should simply combine the paragraphs and eliminate the repetitions it would cause to do so.

    P7. This is repetitious too, TheAdmiral. Be very wary of feeling the need to remind readers of what you said just a few paragraphs prior. We remember. Your new claim, that the protest was badly timed, is very unclear and needs to be clarified. You don’t really mean “the wrong time.” You mean “the wrong occasion” or the “wrong venue” or “he chose the wrong symbol to crap on.” Be clear on this. You might not want to align yourself with objectors who think they’re entitled to enjoy their sports Sunday without having to face any unpleasantness. But you probably do want to align yourself with the position that the flag and the anthem are in a way sacrosanct and shouldn’t be disgraced despite any individual’s feelings even when justified. Spend some words on that.

    P8. This is well done, Admiral, but it’s not as generous to KC as it could be. You’ve been gracious so far to allow that his outrage is sincere. You haven’t accused him of grandstanding. You haven’t condemned him as many have. But you haven’t considered in words here yet that just as much as national pride is “what America is all about,” our ability to protest it is equally central to our national ethos because, as Lee Greenwood himself asserts, at least we know we’re free to do so.

    Good work so far. Looking forward to an even more persuasive version in your Portfolio. (Are you getting the idea that I will always find improvements to suggest? You’re right.)
    I’d appreciate your reactions. You never replied to my last request.

    Like

  3. davidbdale says:

    You haven’t responded in a Reply, but I do note you’ve continued to improve your posts, TheAdmiral. I’ve been gratified this semester to spend so much time working through the revision process with you.

    Like

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