Colin Kaepernick’s controversial decision to kneel during the national anthem last season in an effort to take a stand against black oppression has created a wide spectrum of responses, ranging from “STAND or be anti-American” to “KNEEL or be a racist disgrace.”
Donald Trump’s call for the NFL to fire any “son of a b***” who got down on one knee during the anthem fueled America’s already white-hot, racially-divisive fire last September—and the controversy has continued to resurface in various forms throughout the season, all the way through Super Bowl.
The latest flare-up was ignited after the National Football League rejected a Super Bowl ad submitted by the American Veterans (AMVETS), featuring the two-word hashtag “#PleaseStand.”
— Marion Polk (@AMVETSNatlCmdr) January 22, 2018
After being invited by the NFL to place an advertisement of their choice in Super Bowl LII, AMVETS—America’s largest veteran service organization—took great offense to the league’s rejection of their message.
“It’s a simple, polite request that represents the sentiment of our membership, particularly those whose missing or paralyzed limbs preclude standing,” National Commander Marion Polk wrote to NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell.
The organization asserts the NFL’s distasteful response is an act of “outright censorship.”
“Freedom of speech works both ways,” continued Polk. “We respect the rights of those who choose to protest, as these rights are precisely what our members have fought—and in many cases died—for. But imposing corporate censorship to deny that same right to those veterans who have secured it for us all is reprehensible and totally beyond the pale.”
But NFL spokesman, Brian McCarthy, strongly disagrees with the American Veterans’ stance, explaining the ad spots are “designed for fans to commemorate and celebrate the game, players, teams and the Super Bowl.”
“It’s never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement,” he added.
McCarthy instead offered the American Veterans the option of using “Please Stand for our Veterans” in their advertisement, in order to present a less polarizing message. But AMVETS was not pleased with the alternative.
“Veterans are good for more than just military aircraft flyovers, photo opportunities during halftime, or props to sell camouflage-style NFL apparel,” Polk wrote to NFL Commissioner Goodell. “Although, the NFL’s stance on not allowing the veterans’ unfiltered voice to be heard says otherwise.”
What are your thoughts on the NFL’s rejection of the American Veterans’ ad? Is it warranted or unjust censorship? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments!