State Sen. Jeff Van Drew’s statement in a letter to the editor that he was “shocked and dismayed by the recent actions of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, and others refusing to stand during the national anthem” and “was especially disturbed by Miami Dolphins players who kneeled during the anthem on the anniversary of Sept. 11, a day to remember the thousands of people who tragically lost their lives on that dreadful day.”

Van Drew claims that “,,,this kind of conduct … divides us.” He asks, “Why not get involved in the issues and be a high-profile voice for change in the community? Meet with community leaders, elected representatives, law enforcement and social justice groups. Mentor kids and work to open Boys and Girls Clubs that will provide a recreational and educational resource for young people.” He claims that the players’ actions were empty demonstrations broadcast on national television. He concludes by saying that, “As professional athletes who have been granted so many gifts and done so well in this country, they should be dedicating their energy to more productive and positive causes – particularly since they have the resources at their disposal to be a part of the solution.”

Van Drew’s straw man argument is clearly pure politics, pontification and inaccurate. Mr. McCarthy, a Navy veteran, addressed Van Drew’s confusion about the player’s right to dissent and the meaning of national anthem. I would like to address the attitude of Mr. Van Drew toward the players.

Van Drew did not even bother to check the contributions that these players have been making already to their communities. Kaepernick has stated that he’s not trying to disrespect the United States military, but he’s trying to use his platform to speak up for those who don’t have a voice and that racial oppression needs to end in America. He is donating $1 million and all profits from sales of his jersey to communities in need by offering $100,000 each week during the NFL season. Mr. Kaepernick has receive numerous death threats- so much for “freedom of speech.” Adam Jones, a baseball player supporting the football players is a tremendous community giver.

The players are not judges, courts, lawyers, or law enforcement officers; who often live pretty high lives themselves. Many of the players have either experienced themselves or heard from their family members, friends, and fans about the futility of going up against City Hall and the Thin Blue Line. Their best tool for positive change is their voice and actions, something which politicians and their cronies should emulate rather than offering their cheap pontification.

Jeff Lehman