Whatever one may think of the US, the recent #TakeAKnee controversy has highlighted its memetic status as “land of the free”.
Last season, a number of largely black NFL players began kneeling instead of standing for the pregame national anthem to protest police brutality. To American patriots, the symbols of the country are held in a quasi-sacred regard. Many of these same people often declare themselves champions of free speech, but believe that the right shouldn’t extend to “denigrating” the anthem or the flag. Seems a little hypocritical, doesn’t it?
When this attitude reaches government level, it becomes authoritarianism. Donald Trump wants the NFL to expel all players who “take a knee” or otherwise protest while the national anthem is playing. So far, he has yet to take action while the #TakeAKnee movement spreads out of American football and even worldwide (there are rumours that several international footballers will do the same during the next round of World Cup qualifiers). You know why it’s spreading worldwide, Donald? Your big mouth. You are threatening to take away freedom of expression and we won’t stand (literally) for it.
Freedom of speech is about the freedom to state something and freedom for people to disagree with it. This is what’s happening right now. Nobody’s being prosecuted, nobody’s being attacked, and I hope it stays that way.