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Navy Vet Refuses Award from Saints Because of Anthem Protests

The Saints wanted to honor a Navy veteran and he declined, and then decided to grandstand about it.

Sean Newell

Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

A Navy veteran made a big stink about turning down a ceremony before a Saints game, making several media appearances to say that he could not "in good conscious" accept the award due to the ongoing protests against RACIAL INEQUALITY AND POLICE BRUTALITY. I apologize for yelling just then, but read the quote from John Wells, a disabled Navy veteran and hopefully you'll forgive me:

"Although I am touched and honored to be selected for such an award, the ongoing controversy with NFL players' disrespect for the national flag forces me to decline to participate in the presentation," wrote Wells, according to the release. "I am unable, in good conscience, to enter an NFL stadium while this discourtesy prevails. Since this award is tainted with the dishonorable actions of the NFL and its players, I cannot accept it."

I am so fed up with this bullshit.

The protests are not, and have never been, about the flag, or the military and its service men and women. It has always been about police murdering innocent black United States citizens free of consequence. To suggest that they are anything else is either willfully ignorant or completely disingenuous. There is no other way of reading it.

But because discourse in this age is just ill-informed people sharing memes and talking points they heard from craven cable media personalities on either side of the aisle, we have somehow gotten to the point where NFL players are protesting are against the military, and therefore against the country as a whole. Despite the fact that the man who started the whole thing explicitly stated that he was protesting racial injustice. He literally said it!

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. "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."

This quote was from, like, week three of his protesting—last year.

Somehow (white) people are offended by this. Somehow (white) people think protesting inequality in a country that loves to talk about how all men are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights is objectionable. Somehow (black) people pointing this out is unpatriotic. Somehow the voiceless, even when they have the largest platform, go unheard.

This shouldn't even be a discussion. Dishonorable? What's dishonorable is willful ignorance. What's dishonorable is the vilification of peaceful protests. What's dishonorable are the circumstances—the unabated murder of citizens by police without consequence—that led to these protests in the first place. It is a national embarrassment.