This past November, Neal McCoy — a country singer from Texas who had a string of hits in the '90s — decided to take a stand. During a show in Missouri, McCoy unveiled a new song, "Take a Knee... My Ass," criticizing the NFL players protesting police brutality and systemic racism by kneeling during the national anthem. McCoy, whose father served in the United States Army, believed that their gesture was disrespectful to the sacrifice U.S. Army veterans have given to the country.
He said the song's lyrics, which include the chorus, "I think of those whose freedom was not free and I say, 'Take a knee, my ass,'" were meant to be a patriotic statement and a rallying cry for conservatives and patriots, who McCoy believes have not been vocal enough on the topic.
"Take a Knee My Ass" went viral, garnering millions of views across streaming music platforms, YouTube and Facebook Live. But it also generated an almost instant backlash, even among veterans, some of whom disagreed with the song's message.
VICE News met with McCoy and his good friend Wayne Newton in Las Vegas to talk about the song, the meaning of patriotism, and Colin Kaepernick's place in the fight for racial justice in America.
This segment originally aired December 18, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.