Kaepernick And The Anthem

Kaepernick And The Anthem

I always encourage people to look in the mirror over what upsets them and I come to you today with that challenge.

First the background:

San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick remained seated while the National Anthem played during Friday night’s pre-season game. 

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media’s Steve Wyche, confirming Pro Football Talk’s original report. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Kaepernick is a 28-year-old biracial man who was raised by the white parents who adopted him, and who believes he can no longer remain silent in a country where young, black men are too often shot by overheated cops, and where blacks are forever asked by whites to rise above obstacles that whites themselves created.

I did not receive any notes or texts from any friends supporting Kaepernick in any way. Most just called him vulgarities. When I challenged them on whether they supported his right to sit, most, not all, but most, said “no.” To paraphrase most of their positions, if you don’t like America, leave. You don’t disgrace the flag, the troops and nation by remaining seated while your country is honored.

Before my challenge, I offer this respectful retort to those who share such opinions; there is absolutely nothing MORE American than standing up to your own country, even if it means sitting down, and regardless of your reasons. For the record, as a 49er fan, I think Kaepernick is an idiot in general and I disagree entirely with his reasons for remaining seated. He’s just factually wrong. But I will support his right to remain seated because it’s that which makes America the greatest nation on Earth. Very few places can you not pledge your allegiance to your nation, salute the flag, and remain seated during the national anthem, and be allowed to live without punishment, if you’re allowed to live at all. Lest you forget, this nation was literally founded by a small group of people who disagreed vehemently with the way their country was being ruled and was heading, and they had the courage to stand up against it. 

For those of you so angry at Kaepernick, here is a mini-challenge to make sure you’re not a total hypocrite; when the NYPD turned their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio last year as he spoke following the murders of two officers, were you as appalled, and if not, why not? Technically, by the writ of the NYPD Union agreement, that was an act akin to treason, as the Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said later. In any armed forces, you are not allowed to publicly shame your commanding officer and the NYPD is run as a para-military unit. They weren’t questioning their leader (they thought they were, but by the letter of the law) they were committing an act of treason against the city of New York.

I realize that example will fall flat because it’s not exactly apples-to-apples but the point had to be made.

Now to the challenge; why do you care so much? When I saw the headline Saturday morning that Kaepernick had remained seated, I shrugged and walked away. Later, telling my girlfriend about the story, she shrugged and looked at me as though I needed to find something much more interesting to talk about quickly. And remember, she fought for his right to express his disgust at his home nation. She didn’t care, I don’t care, why did you? And all of that was before I had heard his idiotic reason for why he remained seated.

If Dawn has taught me anything (and she hasn’t) it’s the power of personal virtue and faith. No matter how much anyone attacks her Catholic faith, she can still worship her God anywhere within herself. What exactly is it that Colin Kaepernick is doing that threatens America or your ability to be patriotic by your means? He’s not taking up arms against the nation, that would be different. He’s simply expressing himself…of course you have every RIGHT to get angry and express yourself, by why do you care? When I was a kid and other kids would make fun of my dad I would just look at them with that “you’re an idiot,” look. No matter what they said, none of it changed what a great man my dad was and none of it did anything to affect my loyalty and love for him. How is this different? What exactly are you so angry about?

Some of my friends tried to use the “military” card with me which will never work. Our troops, including my girlfriend, fight and die for our right to make fools of ourselves by expressing ourselves. Moreover, the National Anthem is NOT about honoring the military and has never meant to be so. It’s about honoring the nation as a whole and the flag. While the song refers to the battles it took to become who we are as a nation, the song is not about “please rise to honor our troops and their sacrifices…the song is about please rise and support America.” Colin Kaepernick does not have to support America and he does not have to leave and he does have every right to let us all know what he thinks.

Praise Kaepernick for letting us know his true colors. Praise him for allowing yourself an insight into his baron, poorly informed tiny little brain…but do so without using terms like “unpatriotic,” because there is nothing more patriotic than questioning America.  

Back to the background:

His team released a statement praising what the anthem represents but recognizing that Kaepernick’s boycott matched up with “such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression.” His league said players are encouraged but not required to stand for the anthem. His coach, Chip Kelly, said he had no right to tell any player how to honor, or not honor, his country.

This is what American servicemen and women have defended here and abroad — Kaepernick’s right to sing the national anthem at the top of his lungs, and to refuse honor it altogether. As long as he’s not interfering with his teammates’ right to make their own red, white and blue choices, what’s the problem here?

But yes, people had problems. A lot of people. Matt Hasselbeck, former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst, tweeted this of Kaepernick’s move: “Easy way to make sure you’re NOT the starting QB on opening day. #Sept. 11.”

The last comment is the most appalling, not surprisingly since Matt Hasselbeck is an abject idiot (more name calling). Equating Kaepernick’s American protest to the tragic attacks of 9/11 is more than misguided, it’s pandering to the lowest common denominator. It reminds me of people who claim being told they can’t speak their mind at work are having their first amendment rights withheld. Ignorance is rampant in this nation and all I ask is that you check in with yourself and affirm your motivations. And if you truly love America, for the love of Washington, act American. 

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