LETTER: Kneeling During Pledge is Not Un-American, It Stands Up for Others


Taking a knee is not disrespecting the flag. Nor is it disrespecting the sacrifices of those who have served. Rather it is exercising one of the freedoms that our forefathers fought to preserve. Freedom is like a muscle – it must be exercised or it will atrophy.  Exercising one’s right to protest peacefully is in fact honoring the sacrifices of those who have preceded us.

Thank God that there have not been any major incidents of anyone being denied their civil rights in Watertown. Ours is a community that serves as a peaceful home to many immigrants and has for many years. We can all be proud of that. But that does not change the fact that there have been incidents all across our country where Americans have been deprived of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness because of the color of their skin, their ethnicity, gender, etc. American democracy has not reached perfection.

There is at this time a wind carrying a foul odor blowing through our country. It is the stench of bigotry and inhumanity. Many who harbor ill will toward their fellow humans have been emboldened to pursue their aims publicly. Many otherwise decent Americans, out of a myriad of frustrations, have abetted this degradation of American ideals.

For a white person to make a respectful gesture calling attention to the plight of those persecuted is well within the spirit of American democracy and is to be commended. If Martin Luther King were alive, he would certainly be taking a knee. Our own beloved Bill Russell took a knee wearing his Presidential Medal of Freedom. Perhaps if ordinary Germans had had a consciousness of the evils of Nazism and stood in solidarity with those who were being persecuted, the course of history would have been different.

Don’t think that because our country is great, that great evil cannot happen here. Evil takes root anywhere humans reside. I believe that great evil threatens our country and our liberties at this time. I appreciate that Councillor Bays is thoughtful enough to express solidarity with those who are not being accorded their full rights as Americans.

One hundred and fifty three years after Emancipation, our country has still a profound problem with racism. To state that fact is not un-American. Rather it is a full throated expression of American ideals: We are committed to the freedom, dignity and worth of all and are committed to solving our problems in the hope of becoming a more perfect Union.

I would hope that at least some of those who have raised such a virulent opposition to the Councilor’s respectful and sincere gesture of solidarity with her fellow Americans will reconsider their position with the words of Thomas Jefferson in mind: “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”


Joseph Levendusky
Watertown Resident

10 thoughts on “LETTER: Kneeling During Pledge is Not Un-American, It Stands Up for Others

  1. FINALLY a voice of sanity. Our country is in turmoil. We are on the brink. Anyone that thinks the flag is our country, really doesn’t understand anything. It is a SYMBOL. The flag REPRESENTS the ideals of the nation, not the nation itself. And right now. I would not stand for our flag. We used to try to represent the best in people. We were a beacon of light in a world so often dark. Now, we are the darkness. Immigrants ARE this entire nation. Our ‘government’ has turned a deaf ear to the suffering around the world because it’s inconvenient and may hurt their bottom line. This ‘government’ is about money for THEM. And the suffering of people here and around the world continues, even as the average American donates to appease it. We need to protest in ANY and EVERY way we can. I’m very proud Caroline Bays took a knee in protest of this government’s Horrific policies. And I am deeply saddened by the response of the people of Watertown. If you truly can’t see what is wrong with this America, read. Turn off the news and find out for yourself. Do better. BE BETTER!

  2. It does nothing to help this town, nor the people that she was symbolically taking a knee for – if it is a concern, she can run for state or federal office and address it there. It is political posturing at the town level, nothing more.

    You say “There is at this time a wind carrying a foul odor blowing through our country. It is the stench of bigotry and inhumanity.” You fail to acknowledge that there are also many allegations of bigotry which have been proven to be false claims in order to stir the pot further. Riots by the very people protesting which hurts their own communities. No one wants to see that, but the blame is not as black and white as you want to portray.

    The Councilor is free to do whatever she wants as a private person, just not in the capacity of a public servant during public event. And that’s what most people are upset about in this town, which does not have the problems you talk about.

  3. Joey,
    I think you are right on .Watertown should step up and take a lead on the world stage. We are by far the most progressive and perfect community in the nation thanks to people like you who live here! It’s time for the town of Watertown to have in office in Washington DC, and a seat at the UN!! I am all for another Tax increase to support this. We need to stop worrying about what’s wrong in our own town and focus on the broader spectrum. Screw the potholes, we need to save the WORLD!!

    • Deano, what exactly do you mean when you say “people like you”? I am an American residing in Watertown, just like you. This is how the divissiveness and ill will come home to Watertown. We saw this on the CPA campaign and we are seeing it now. Watertown does seem to have a tolerance problem.

      To the extent that we are concerned with our fellow man, here in Watertown and elsewhere, it makes us a more decent, humane and moral community. There isn’t a reason that we cannot both stand in support of Justice for all and fill potholes. I am beginning to think that arguments to the contrary are just cover positions for general intolerance.

  4. What a breath of fresh air Joseph Levendusky wrote! One of the qualities I have appreciated most about living in Watertown is our inclusiveness of all people regardless of where we come from or our skin color or any of a host of differences found between us. Yet in the past year and a half I have come to mourn the hate, racism, misogyny and homophobia being brazenly committed throughout our country. This is painful. Caroline Bays is to be commended for kneeling in protest of the all the hurt and suffering being committed.

  5. A note on “ordinary Germans”: Respected Author, as one who lived in Germany right before my similar-extent-of-time trip to USA, I can tell you that Germans are in general not different of other nations! Now you use the adjective “ordinary” which by definition is sort of “not having a special ability”. So, ordinary people anywhere are the same; they do ordinary things and live an ordinary life with ordinary dreams…. I do believe that in the case of totalitarian regimes the consciousness of ordinary people/Germans must gather a momentum to become powerful. To speak from my own experience with totalitarian regimes: you do what is best to live a life and the normal is imposed by the rules!! There is very little choice for the solitary ordinary person/people. In time if it becomes unbearable the regime is removed but still the marks linger many years after. From my experience with “ordinary” Germans I understood that their country and themselves learned a very harsh lesson and work very hard to be what they are today. I can assure you that they really take seriously the laws about Holocaust denial. Moreover suppose instead of “ordinary Germans” you used “ordinary people of that country under the communism regime”; well I assure you there is not so easy to have a consciousness and even if one has compassion for the persecuted it would be very difficult to show it. I think now that none of those persecuted by the communism regime in my native country would consider that the blame is on the ordinary people who did nothing for them. The ruler is the ruler and the dominant party has his power. That’s it until the change comes. I imagine that your example with Nazism is just descriptive since it is known as a great evil. Many people may use this comparison but please remember that ordinary Germans are like any other ordinary individuals…

  6. Thank you, Joseph Levendusky, for stating what should be obvious: that each of us, including public officials, has the right to take a knee or to choose not to. This is America, and we are not expected to say “my country right or wrong”. We are free to disagree with national policies and to protest peacefully, doing no harm to others, in order to make sure we have government that ensures the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans. Taking a knee hurts no one, and helps draw attention to ways in which our country isn’t living up to its stated ethic. Caroline chose to show us that she is someone who will serve us from a stance of liberty and justice for all.

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