San Fransisco 49ers cheerleader takes a knee in protest during the national anthem
To many patriotic Americans, the national anthem is something sacrosanct. The verses and lyrics are familiar and reassuring, and even if you don't know any words, most people can get through the chorus and hum the rest. Some Americans see the song as a pledge of loyalty to the ideals and aspirations that the great American experiment espouses - liberty, justice, equality, and democracy. The stirring words of the Star-Spangled Banner can act as a rallying cry; a comfort in times of national mourning, and a reminder of the bigger picture before a sports game commences.
However, there are those who don't have a high opinion of the national anthem; those who believe that, in its current state, American society does not embody the ideals of the founding fathers. In fact, there are many who believe that the US anthem is a hypocritical one, and that until America provides the same liberty and privileges to all genders and minorities, it cannot in song profess its own exceptionalism.
As a result, many athletes have knelt during the singing of the national anthem, as a form of protest against perceived injustices and social inequalities in American society. However, in what appears to be a historic incident, an NFL cheerleader has taken a knee during the national anthem for the first time ever.
The San Francisco 49ers cheerleader was photographed by spectators at a November 1 fixture against the Oakland Raiders at Levi’s Stadium. The brunette woman was photographed kneeling during the anthem by NBC Bay Area reporter Damian Trujillo, who immediately uploaded his snap to Twitter. The woman in question has not yet been identified, nor have her motives been made public, but the gesture has already polarised opinion on social media.
Commenting on the image, one disgruntled Twitter-user wrote: "Lol so shes protesting a country where she can make money dancing at a football game... and her protest is based on a false narrative like Kaepernick's ... the irony is a lot to handle. [sic]" However, others were more supportive, with another commenter writing: "Brave woman. The brave should always be honoured. An anthem is just a song. A country should be judged by the integrity, courage and strength of her people. Support her America. She is America."
US president Donald Trump has been vocal in his condemnation of athletes who use the national anthem as a form of public protest. On August 10 the Republican leader tweeted: "The NFL players are at it again - taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem. Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their “outrage” at something that most of them are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love."
He added: "Be happy, be cool! A football game, that fans are paying [so] much money to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest. Most of that money goes to the players anyway. Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay! [sic]"
Representatives of the 49ers have not released the cheerleader’s name, or commented on the act of protest.