I am writing in response to Victoria Fortier’s column, verbosely titled, “It’s time to stop kneeling during the national anthem.” I’m a teaching assistant for ENC 1101 at UF, a class I really enjoy teaching. My students learn how to identify and write coherent arguments. One of the first things I teach them to do is to support claims with “receipts,” commonly known as evidence. I’m calling Fortier out because, while I respect her use of pathos, one of three rhetorical appeals (she’s really trying to rile people up), she hasn’t substantiated her claims with evidence. Dare I call unsubstantiated claims “fake news?” It’s true. More than 30 million people tune in every week to watch football games. It’s true that fans are now watching athletes kneel to protest the continued murder of black men, women and children. I disagree with Fortier’s claim that freedom has nothing to do with making a statement. I would back that claim up by providing my first receipt, the Declaration of Independence. Maybe Fortier has not had the chance to take history yet (however, I think it is a requirement), but this document is a literal statement of freedom written by our Founding Fathers. NFL protesters like Colin Kaepernick are very aware of their rhetorical situation. They understand their audience and have a specific purpose. Protest is a very specific strategy for making an argument. It’s often a dangerous and unpopular strategy in that it does not always care about being polite. While black men and women continue to die at the hands of corrupt police officers, Kaepernick and his fellow NFL players do not have time to be polite. Your plea for protesters to consider where and when they decide to make a statement isn’t needed. They have already considered where and when they protest. They have decided making you uncomfortable for a few minutes at the beginning of a football game is worth your discomfort. The Huffington Post reports that more than 250 black people were killed in 2016. These protesters want the murders to stop. If you were in my class and you turned in a paper without receipts, you’d receive an F.
Jacob Guajardo is a UF student.