School officials in Morrow, Ohio, were at the center of a controversy after suspending two students who honored—before the start of a football game—the police and firefighters who died helping victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center bombing. After the repercussions generated by the controversial measure, school authorities reported that the boys were reinstated on the team.
On the occasion of another Sept. 11 anniversary, on Friday of last week, two Little Miami High School players ran onto the field before a game with a “Thin Blue Line” and a “Thin Red Line” flag, honoring the fallen police and firefighters, respectively.
Two Little Miami football players pay the price for civil disobedience. They were told not to carry onto the field thin blue line and thin red line flags at their 9/11 game. They did anyway. The school has now suspended them from the team indefinitely. #ThinBlueLine #ThinRedLine pic.twitter.com/19y9GAvaxr
— David Winter (@DavidWinterTV) September 14, 2020
However, the directors of the school decided to suspend both students, which sparked the controversy.
The school defended its decision by pointing out that the boys had not obtained the approval of the authorities to carry out the tribute.
“While the district understands these students’ desire show their support of our first responders especially on the anniversary of 9/11, they did not obtain permission from district officials to do this. School administrators must act when students break the rules, and these students were suspended from practice while the incident was investigated,” the Little Miami Board said in a statement.
But what is striking is the explanation given by the authorities about why the boys were denied their application.
Although the boys had made it clear that it was to be a tribute to those police and firefighters who died to help the victims of the biggest terrorist attack in U.S. history, school Superintendent Gregory Power said he saw the flags as symbols of a “political point of view” and did not want to set a precedent.
“We did not want to place ourselves in a circumstance where another family might want a different flag to come out of the tunnel, one that may be [one that] many other families may not agree with from a political perspective,” Power defended himself in dialogue with Local12.
When interviewed by the media, the boys indicated that the tribute was very meaningful to them since Brady Williams is the son of a police officer, and Jared Bently’s father was a firefighter.
When Local 12 asked both of them about the controversial accusation, they stated that they saw this as an honor to Americans who had died to save others.
“I don’t care what my consequences are. So long as my message gets across, I’ll be happy,” Williams said.
One of the voices that rose up against the measure of the directors was that of the journalist Brad Slager of the conservative site Townhall, who pointed out that there is a “double standard” when it comes to judging “political” demonstrations on sports fields.
Slager cited as an example the case of Colin Kaepernick, the NFL player who—along with other athletes—has expressed his views against racial segregation by taking a knee at the moment of the singing of the national anthem, a protest that was celebrated from the progressive stands.
“For years we have been lectured that Colin Kaepernick and numerous other players who express themselves by protesting the national anthem deserve respect, but if fans express themselves saying they will protest by no longer watching the NFL they are called intolerant or racist,” Slager said in exposing the double talk of the liberal sectors.
“We should applaud a player like Kaepernick for his political views but if former player Herschel Walker lends support to Donald Trump he is called an ‘Uncle Tom’ and told to pipe down,” he added.
He also referred to the case of former quarterback Tim Tebow, who also received strong criticism for kneeling and resting his head on one hand to pray and thank God for his touchdown.
“Kneeling for the anthem is praised, but Tim Tebow kneeling to pray in the end zone after a touchdown was bothersome,” Slager said about it.
In the case of the two Ohio students, after the authorities’ controversial decision went viral, officials announced on Sept. 15 that they had decided to reinstate both boys to the football team.
“This is how twisted the priorities in some areas of this country have become. Had Brady and Jarad been seen taking a knee to express a political point of view there is little doubt this would have been acceptable, if not even drawing praise and support. But showing respect and remembrance of the thousands who had lost lives is somehow unacceptably ‘political,’” Slager reflected.