2 thoughts on “The brief history of taking a knee…

  1. Yeah, Americans who don’t understand this — I’m not sure what planet they’re from. The cognitive dissonance is deafening.

    That particular one-knee posture was chosen very deliberately. It’s a martial genuflexion (since the time of the Hittites — you can see it in Egyptian wall-art, Greek blackware pottery decoration, Roman frescoes, etc.). It’s part of the chivalric tradition (knighthood). It’s how warriors kneel to pay respect to a sovereign. And it’s an aspect of Christian observance, and a political gesture recognized in Christian contexts. Per Wikipedia: “Within the Latin Rite of Roman Catholicism, it was formerly the custom to kneel on the left knee only (genuflect) for persons of distinction (such as kings, the pope, bishops, etc.), to kneel on the right knee for the Eucharist, when it is in the tabernacle, and to kneel on both knees when the Eucharist was exposed.”

    It’s also a frigging football thing. “Taking the knee,” or the “Quarterback Kneel,” is a way of ending a down (e.g., upon receipt of a forward snap) — effectively running down the clock to preserve an advantage, but allowed by the rules. So in football contexts, it’s a form of acceptable subversion.

    And as the players have said: it’s more (not less) reverential than standing. And part of the reason they feel that’s appropriate, one suspects, is that in America today, greater submission is demanded of people of color.

    So I don’t care what you are: military, a Christian, or a football-rules freak, this gesture is completely satisfactory, articulate, and nuanced.