Not a "Positive" Idea At All

November, 2016

Lincoln -- A Lincoln businessman and Marine Corps veteran appeared before the NU Board of Regents to ask for plaques on Memorial Stadium to honor veterans killed in war. He said this would be an appropriate and positive response to three football players who knelt, rather than stood, during the national anthem at a game, actions he disapproved although he recognized the players' right to do so.

“I said there’s the high road and the low road,” he said. “I could blow it off and not do anything, or I can do something positive.”

As a veteran myself, I don't think this is positive. It would represent not-so-subtle retaliation against the players, juxtaposed as it is so clearly against their actions; moreover, it would diminish the NU president's affirmation of the students' rights to express their opinions. As a veteran, I don't want veterans' names and causes used in a tit-for-tat contest against the right of free speech. It comes across as snarky, not patriotic. Veterans sacrificed for freedom of speech and other freedoms and should not be mis-used in an effort to diminish or demean the exercise of those freedoms.

And where would the money come from? This Lincoln businessman already has a history of making suggestions for dubious uses of other peoples' tax dollars. Many of us can think of better uses for the $500,000 that this plaque project would cost. The same goes for privately-raised money. For example, the UNL History Department does not have any of its faculty devoted to Nebraska state and local history. Rather than plaques, how about some research on just who these veterans were and why we should be grateful for their sacrifice? If the plaque idea moves forward (to put the memorial idea back in Memorial Stadium), it should be expressly de-linked from the suggestion that this is comeuppance of those who exercise freedom of expression.