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Ted Nugent, Pearl Jam and Others Join Debate About Athletes Taking a Knee During the National Anthem

Scott Olson / Sean M. Haffey / Mike Coppola, Getty Images
Scott Olson / Sean M. Haffey / Mike Coppola, Getty Images

Love him or hate him, you rarely have to guess what Ted Nugent thinks about any particular issue. And as the debate intensifies over whether it’s okay for professional athletes to protest racial injustice and inequality by taking a knee during the national anthem at sporting events, Nugent has offered up his own personal point of view.

It’s all laid out in a Facebook post titled “Take a Knee,” in which the guitarist urges anyone inclined to sit out during the anthem to drop to one knee at several different battlegrounds around the world, from Valley Forge to Normandy, Vietnam and Fallujah, in order to get a sense of the final sacrifices made by “real Americans” throughout the nation’s history.

Arguing that anyone who’d protest this way doesn’t have “an inkling” of “what it took to get you where you are,” Nugent goes on to call taking a knee during the anthem “disgraceful to a nation of real heroes” — and extends an invitation to church.

“We’ll both kneel before Almighty God. We’ll thank Him for preserving this country for as long as He has. We’ll beg forgiveness for our ingratitude for all He has provided us,” Nugent continues. “We’ll appeal to Him for understanding and wisdom. We’ll pray for liberty and justice for all … because He is the one who provides those things.”

A number of Nugent’s peers share his views — Stryper frontman Michael Sweet used his own Facebook update to say athletes should just “play ball and do the job that you get paid millions and millions of dollars to do” — but others have been just as quick to argue the other side. Pearl Jam‘s official social media presence offered support for “everyone’s constitutional right to stand up, sit down or #takeaknee for equality,” while Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid used a tweet to point out that the protests aren’t against the flag or the anthem, but institutionalized racism.

Over the weekend, artists ranging from Roger Waters to Eddie Vedder to Prophets of Rage posted pictures or videos of themselves “taking a knee” in concert.

The NFL, meanwhile, has defended players’ rights to protest, and a long list of team owners has followed suit. Given that there’s a long history of people using the anthem to argue a political point — and an even longer debate over how to respect the flag — this issue doesn’t seem likely to be settled anytime soon.

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