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America, a land of liberty and justice for some

By Leonard Pitts Jr., Tribune Content Agency on

How dare they not stand for the national anthem?

(But America bullies us, then says we're threatening.)

How dare they not put a hand to their hearts?

(But America steals from us, then tells us we're thieves.)

How dare they not well up with patriotic pride?

(But America lies to us then pretends to be fair.)

How dare they question America?

(But Tamir Rice. But Philando Castile and Freddie Gray. But Walter Scott and Levar Jones. But Charleston. But Charlottesville.)

How dare they? America asks that question, but it never wants the answer.

This Sunday, NFL games will be played in 13 towns. In each, someone will present the American flag, someone will sing the national anthem, and most people will stand to pay their respects. But a few will sit or kneel to show themselves estranged.

And maybe someone will gaze on them and ask, with righteous indignation: "How dare they?"

To ask it is to forget that America is a land of liberty and justice for some. But thankfully, it is also a land where the right to call out wrong is sacred. What we are seeing from these athletes embodies not a trend, but a principle. Because of their station as sports heroes, they have the ability to focus attention on the nation's sins -- and they feel called by conscience to do so. How dare they?

No, how dare they not?

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(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at lpitts@miamiherald.com.)

 

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