US anthem singer who joined kneeling protest gets death threats

Singer Meghan Linsey (front) and her guitarist kneel down while singing the US national anthem at an NFL football game on September 24, 2017. (File photo)
Singer Meghan Linsey (front) and her guitarist kneel down while singing the US national anthem at an NFL football game on September 24, 2017. (File photo)

A white US national anthem singer has received death threats and labeled “un-American” after kneeling at a football game earlier this week to protest racial inequality and police brutality against African-Americans.

Prominent country singer Meghan Linsey, who knelt down after singing the Star-Spangled Banner during Sunday’s NFL football game between Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks in solidarity with many African-American professional football players across the US that also kneeled during the anthem, told a local newspaper on Friday about getting the death threats, but expressed no regrets about her move.

The unprecedented protest action by football players and team staff members during Sunday and Monday football matches came in response to offensive remarks by US President Donald Trump last week calling for sacking of predominantly black players that have taken part in such protest action.

“I feel like I did the right thing. I don’t have any regrets,” Linsey emphasized after reporting the threatening calls to the Tennesseandaily. She further explained that she has received hate mail from people that accused her of hating the US military and wished that she would get cancer.

“It wasn’t a matter of standing against our flag or our military,” the singer underlined. “I was standing up for a cause that I believe in.”

“I can’t think of anything more un-American than threatening someone for an act of free speech,” She also pointed out in an article published Friday by the Washington Post. “I am not afraid of these people, because I know that I am living on my mother’s prayers and God will protect me. It just hurts my heart to stand in the face of real unadulterated hate. But it’s the same hate that so many other people in this country face simply because of the color of their skin.”

“Racism is still a huge stain on the heart of this country, and it is still very much alive,” Linsey wrote in the article. “I see it often when I am touring with members of my band, who are primarily black men.”

She also stressed, “My decision may hurt my career, but it was the only choice for me. This cause is more important than my record sales.”

After Trump insisted last Friday that the NFL should fire players who kneel, several athletes and officials fired back defending their rights to free speech. Hundreds of NFL players have knelt or linked arms during the national anthem over the past week, inciting further outrage from the US president as well as people who argue that the move is disrespectful to military veterans and the American flag.

Linsey, however, underlined her belief that the threats against her are a testament to the political divisiveness that has become more “volatile” since the 2016 presidential election. She also expressed hope that other country singers would use their platform to speak out for these causes.

“There’s a real problem in this country with social injustice and racism,” she emphasized. “I think it’s going to take an army of people that are white and privileged to step up and say, ‘No, this is a real thing’ in order for change to happen.”

In her article, Linsey further described the reaction of football fans after her protest move as a mixture of thank yous and boos, adding: “The booing didn’t bother me so much. What bothers me more is the silence: the silence of millions of white people every day, when they watch a video of a black woman’s son who is murdered simply for reaching for his driver’s license. We have to do better. We have to speak, and we have to be allies.”

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