Guest Editorial: Schools right to stand down if students take knee with anthem

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The callers were indignant — and misinformed.

They were calling The Robesonian to express their displeasure over the news that Shanita Wooten, the superintendent of the Public Schools of Robeson County, had sent out a memo to educators reminding them that should it happen, students had the right to kneel, remain seated, buy popcorn — or pick their own form of protest — during the playing of the national anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance.

The memo was sent in the wake of last week’s protest by dozens of NFL players whose ranks exploded after President Trump does what he does, uses Twitter to make bad situations worse while continuing to drive a wedge right through the middle of America’s heart.

Callers complained that the school system was encouraging disrespect of the country, U.S. flag and, in particular, veterans past and present who have sacrificed so much for this country.

No, educators were following the law, and getting out in front of the situation — working aggressively to prevent embarrassment for the system, and worse, a potentially costly lawsuit.

The callers’ complaints shouldn’t be with Wooten or local school administrators, but with the Supreme Court, which settled this question in a 1943 ruling.

The court found that making anyone stand for the Pledge of Allegiance amounts to “coerced” speech, and therefore is in violation of the First Amendment, which guarantees free speech, which is the right to speak up or remain silent, or to stand up or remain seated.

Respect for the national anthem, the U.S. flag, veterans, and all the cherished freedoms that this greatest of all nations provides is learned at home.

Or — and here is the real problem — not.