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OPINION

Would Colin Kaepernick stand for Mexican flag instead?

By William Wagner and David Kallman

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being praised for refusing to stand for the United States national anthem at the start of a football game last weekend.

Many Americans, of all races, paid the ultimate sacrifice so that Kaepernick could live in a nation so free he can despoil their memory by refusing to stand and assert: “I am not going to stand up to 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.”

The 49ers issued the following statement in response:

“In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”

In a similar vein, a Florida public school district recently invited parents to excuse their children from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America. The form stated: “I understand my rights as a parent and I request that my child, noted above, be excused from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. This request includes standing and placing his/her right hand over his/her heart.”

So called “progressives” celebrated Mr. Kaepernick’s act of anti-patriotism and approved of a waiver to recite the American Pledge of Allegiance in school. But the silence was deafening when Brenda Brinsdon, a high school sophomore, stood by her conscience and refused to pledge her allegiance to a foreign nation.

Brenda is a first generation Mexican-American who, unlike Mr. Kaepernick, is a proud citizen of the United States. An assignment in Brenda’s Spanish class violated her conscience because it required her to stand at attention facing the Mexican flag, salute and pledge allegiance to Mexico.

Doesn’t Brenda have the same right “to choose and participate, or not” in this government compelled exercise to swear allegiance to a foreign country? A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit United States Court of Appeals recently ruled: she does not.

The Great Lakes Justice Center responded to the panel’s decision by asking for all of the judges on this federal appellate court to hear Brenda’s case. We trust that, if they do, they will protect Brenda’s right to be free from government-compelled speech.

Thomas Jefferson appealed to the vigilance of future patriots like Brenda when he uttered his prescient warning, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.”

In this regard, we find it more than a little sardonic that the government consistently diminishes only the liberty of those who honor our nation.

William Wagner and David Kallman co-founded the Great Lakes Justice Center.