Old Glory, the stars and stripes
If you think football players should be forced to stand during the anthem, you're not wrong. It's your opinion, it can't be wrong. It would, however, be a mistake to assume that these protests mean the protesters don't love this country. They love it enough to want to help fix it. If you think it doesn't need fixing and that showing respect for the anthem is more important than police showing respect for human life, then you can be considered part of the problem.
Whenever I see these down-and-dirty argument threads on standing for the anthem, I see that the ones saying the flag needs to be respected at all costs are also the ones who have the little flag emojis in their screen names. Is that a prescribed, acceptable use of the flag's image? Little digitized versions used to set yourself apart from your countrymen, because you're a "true patriot"? I feel that the flag represents the country, which includes its people, and that means a lot of things. We were never meant to blindly honor and aggrandize the flag itself, but what it stands for, and that includes freedom. Therefore, if someone wants to raise concern or issue with some of the nation's people, the flag can be representative of that concern, whichever side it's on. That is, the so-called patriots must recognize that the flag represents the people who may not salute it, just as the people who don't salute it recognize that it represents the people who are the cause of the concern. You can't separate it, as though the flag only represents those who pay it "proper" respect. It represents all Americans, white and natural-born as well as non-white immigrants. Part of the appeal of our nation is that it's made up of many cultures, many origins, and it builds on those, it does not tear them down. We are made better by what we open our minds to.
On the one hand it's upsetting to see so many people, many of whom I know and respect, turning against one another because of "misplaced" patriotism. The quotes are mine, because I'm acknowledging the fact that, even though it's me saying it and therefore I don't have to quote myself, it is only my opinion and that it is only misplaced in my eyes. That's because I'm open to other people's viewpoints. Make a good argument and I concede to it. Not that it will change my overall feelings on the subject, but I do respect a reasonable discussion on most any topic. That being said, I feel that putting all the importance on the flag itself is misdirected. It's what the flag and the anthem represent that we need to honor, and that includes the rights of the people. Anyone who says "it's got nothing to do with the Constitution or the Bill of Rights or the Declaration, it's about respecting the flag, the symbol of our nation!" is being rather narrow-minded and missing the point of the flag. To show disagreement with the way the country is being run is to question what the flag represents anymore, and lately, since about, oh, November, the flag seems to represent something that most of us can't get behind. I realize that the flag is not Ronald Frump, and it does not represent him in particular, but it does get waved around a lot by people who have associated it with the country being "great again." These are people who don't think it's great now. And yet the fascist, bullying police state is just about the least great thing we've got going right now. If you want to "get control" of your people, start out showing them a little respect. Give some to get some. Respect is a two-way street.
On the other hand, it's good that so much of this is being brought to the public consciousness, so that we, as a nation, can look over what's going on, and we can hopefully, peacefully, cast our votes and pray to whatever god we choose (another oft-trampled right of ALL Americans) that there will be a turn in the tide and that the People will again have their voices heard, and the government will concede to their will and change its ways. Amen and God bless America.