UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has repeated his opposition to “taking the knee” as a gesture of support to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, saying that he feels uncomfortable with its “broader historical feudal connotation.”
Asked whether he would take the knee in an interview with Channel 4 News, Mr Raab replied, “no I wouldn’t.”
“For me, whilst I understand it’s not the intention, getting on one knee has a broader historical feudal connotation and I don’t feel comfortable with that,” Mr Raab said.
“But of course, I understand that’s not what the black lives movement intended, and just as I tolerate the way other people express themselves, I think we also ought to be tolerated [in] the way we show our solidarity and support for causes like that,” he added.
"Getting on one knee has a broader historic feudal connotation and I don’t feel comfortable with that."— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) June 20, 2020
Dominic Raab tells @Anja_Popp he supports the Black Lives Matter movement but will not take the knee after suggesting the symbolic gesture was inspired by Game of Thrones. pic.twitter.com/zwNuL9J3in
Mr Raab went on to say that he has “full sympathy and solidarity with what the black lives movement are trying to achieve,” and he understands that, “for many of them, this feels like a way of showing conscientious objection” to injustice.
Mr Raab’s comments come hot on the heels of others that he made earlier this week during an interview with TalkRadio in which he said that the “taking a knee thing… seems to be taken from Game of Thrones” adding that in his eyes it seems like “a symbol of subjugation and subordination rather than liberation and emancipation.” He added that the only people he would only kneel for are “the Queen and the missus.”
Asked if he would take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab: "I take the knee for two people; the Queen and the Mrs when I asked her to marry me." Listen live ► https://t.co/sv3MZUm41c@JuliaHB1 | @DominicRaab pic.twitter.com/HbCIrCFKKV— talkRADIO (@talkRADIO) June 18, 2020
When quizzed by the Channel 4 reporter on whether he regretted those words - which were met with condemnation among some - Mr Raab responded: “Oh, look, the Twitter and media bubble get very excited about these sorts of things. I think people understand that you can support and be a champion for anti-racism while not having to follow particular symbols if you don’t feel comfortable with them. That’s what tolerance is all about.”
When the Channel 4 reporter appeared to try and suggest that Mr Raab did not know the historical National Foot League (NFL) origins of the BLM gesture, the Foreign Secretary told her to “check your facts.”
NFL star Colin Kaepernick’s took the knee at multiple football games in 2016 during the US national anthem to protest alleged police brutality against African-Americans, earning the condemnation of, among others, President Trump. During a 2017 speech in Alabama, Trump said of Kaepernick: "wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag to say, 'get that son of a b**ch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired."
While Mr Raab did not acknowledge that history in his TalkRadio interview, he did so while talking to Channel 4, saying that the stance, “dates back to the NFL 2016 circumstances,” but going on to say that, “equally it does have a wider, longer, broader historical significance - a feudal one.”
During England’s feudal era, which was abolished in the year 1660, kneeling before a lord was regarded as a symbol of surrender to that lord’s authority.