As someone who comes from outside the United States, I am puzzled by the current fracas over kneeling during the national anthem.

Do Americans not see that this outburst was deliberately stoked in order to re-ignite a superficial patriotism, if not chauvinism, at a time of deepening national crisis? Do commentators like Eleanor Ransburg and others who parrot the official pronouncements and give full reign to their chauvinistic reflexes not realize that their case is built on sand? For how is kneeling before the flag, right hand on heart, a disrespectful gesture? If anything, kneeling is more respectful and reverent than standing — it is a gesture signaling allegiance in a different, more thoughtful and truly patriotic way.

Besides, if the president and his supporters get all the players to stand, the original insult, voiced stridently and humiliatingly on television, will stand. At that point, America will become a country in which it is perfectly acceptable for a white president to insult and demean black football players as “SOBs” before the eyes and ears of the world. No retraction, no apology. Ms. Ransburg, what was the point you were trying to make in your column? Ah yes, I believe you were saying something about respect!

Dietmar Felber


New Orleans