“Taking the knee has a strong history in the struggle for racial equality. As Martin Luther King Jr knelt in prayer with protestors during the Civil Rights movement, so did NFL player Colin Kaepernick to protest against racism in the USA” (The Times, 14th June 2021)
When Martin Luther King “took the knee”, he was praying, not virtue signalling. Sometimes he was doing so in the face of armed racist thugs in police uniforms.
“Taking the knee” is a recent innovation which originated in the US with black players refusing to put their hands on their hearts during the playing of the national anthem before sporting matches. It’s a powerful sybolic gesture which makes perfect sense in the US context where respect for the anthem and the flag have assumed an almost religious significance. The players who made this protest risked losing their careers.
England and the UK are not the United States.The national anthem isn’t normally played before football matches and we don’t salute either the anthem or the flag – both would be regarded as embarrassing and cringeworthy. The anthem is played at internationals, but that doesn’t stop it being cringeworthy.
Taking the knee is an innapropriate piece of virtue signalling which has no connection to our culture and which, like wearing poppies, has effectively become compulsory for all players regardless of whether they think it has a purpose. They do it to avoid being criticised in social media; they are not risking their careers, let alone their lives.
There is a place for symbolic gestures, but there is also a place for action; I would be more impressed to hear footballers and the FA speaking out against racism and taking practical action to drive racism from the game and the fan base.