My Thoughts on Colin Kaepernick

ap_kaepernick_160912_12x5_1600I kept debating whether or not I wanted to write anything about this story. As with everything that happens in our country nowadays, this story has blown up to the point that everyone has to weigh in and firmly dig their heels into the ground in order to prove that they are right. I completely understand why people get upset over this whole thing. I hope that before you read anything I write, you watch Matt Ufford’s take on it. For those that do not know, Matt Ufford is the man who created two fantastic blogs: With Leather and The Warming Glow (I refuse to link to them because they are nowhere near the level of excellence they were under his reign). He now works for SBNation, but more importantly, he is a former Marine and brings an interesting point of view.

Okay, so now that you watched the video, just know that I basically agree with everything Matt says in the video. Instead of giving you my opinion on whether or not he should or should not stand, I want to instead respond to some of the more insane things I have heard or read. Some of you reading this might be thinking “Josh, there is no way people actually believe this stuff.” Sadly, I am not making any of this stuff up.

“If he will not stand for the National Anthem, he should be deported!”

Where do I even start with this one? First of all, I do not think deported is the word the person wanted to use. Maybe banish, expatriate, exile…but deport? Nope, you deport a foreigner. Whether you like it or not, Colin Kaepernick is an American citizen.

“They should shoot him for not standing!”

That definitely seems a little extreme. Who is they? The government? Would you really want to live in a country where the government shoots people for not standing during a song? How serious should the government take it? I mean, if you do not stand for the anthem while watching a sporting event at home, should the Patriotic Police come to your house and execute you? I am sorry, but one of the great things about America is that you have freedom. And one of those freedoms is the right to be critical (Freedom of Speech) of the government. Want to see what forced patriotism looks like? Head to North Korea.

“I bet Kaepernick is from ISIS, we should send him back to Syria.”

I actually heard this and decided to listen in for a second. The person then said “he is Islam, so I bet he is a terrorist.” He is Islam…he is the entire religion. But, no he is not Islamic. He is some kind of Christian. And yes, this has been ISIS’ master plan all along! They had someone impregnate a woman in 1987. The kid was then adopted by a nice family and introduced to the game of football. He then goes to the University of Nevada and eventually is drafted by 49ers! Once he is a superstar, he will slowly bring down our country by not standing for the National Anthem. Well played ISIS! And since he is not from Syria, we still cannot him send him there.

“He has white, adopted parents, and he makes millions of dollars, how can he be oppressed?”

That kind of illustrates the point. However, he never said that he is oppressed. When they asked him why he was sitting, he said “”I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” And this goes back to Ufford’s point that it is much easier to criticize Kaepernick’s decision to not stand than it is to have a discussion about racial inequality. I am a white guy and yet, every time I read a story about racial inequality, I am saddened. When I see these police shootings, it makes me sick. Just because Kaepernick is rich does not mean he cannot have empathy or anger at what he sees as injustice.

“He is being disrespectful to all the soldiers who died for that flag and there were colored soldiers too!”

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers

Probably one of my favorite ones. Maybe Kaepernick did not think this through when he started his protest. I remember seeing somewhere where he was kind of shocked that people really thought he was intentionally disrespecting the military. This is one of the things I hate about this whole debate. When people say that soldiers have died for the flag, I am a little bothered. I hope that when someone joins the military, it is not to defend the flag, but instead to defend what the flag stands for: freedom for all (or whatever it means to you, as an American). The flag is just a symbol of that freedom and yes, symbols do carry power, but be careful with how much power you place in a symbol. Worshiping the flag and wanting to deny others freedom for it’s sake is more insulting to the memories of the men & women (some of color!) who fought to preserve and protect said freedom. It is interesting because many of my veteran friends will say things like “hey, we fought so this asshole could have the right to be a dickbag.” Or whatever colorful way they like to express it.

“The NFL should make it a rule that you have to stand.”

Maybe the NFL should and maybe next year they will have a rule like that, then if Kaepernick chooses to kneel, then he can be fired. But, as of now, they do not have any rules in place, so it looks like his job is safe. However, if they do create a rule where you have to stand, how far does that extend? Does everyone in the stadium have to stand? What about the photographers and cameramen? I have not heard a single person berating how disrespectful they are during the anthem…

Look at the guy in the lower right corner! He has a backwards hat on and is kneeling to get a picture of Kaepernick. That has to up the disrespect factor by at least seven.

Alright, I think this a good point for me to stop. I hope some of you take the time to watch the video. I also hope that some of you will look at this with a different perspective (unfortunately, I feel like this will not happen, but I can definitely hope). It seems like Kaepernick’s protest has started the conversation and in all fairness, it looks like his protest has worked. Instead of focusing on the kneeling aspect, maybe we should all take a few moments and think about what he is actually trying to say…

 

One thought on “My Thoughts on Colin Kaepernick

  1. Thanks for the insightful (and sane) take on this. I admit that I have a problem with Kaepernick’s actions, but not because he refuses to stand for the anthem. My issue with this (and I fully recognize that this is MY issue) is with the hypocrisy of one who states he will not show pride for the flag of a “country that oppresses black people and people of color” but then pays hundreds of thousands or millions of tax dollars to that country. If you truly want to take a stand, don’t help fund the system you feel is the enemy and deal with the consequences. Otherwise, the kneeling gesture (which he has every right to do) seems a little hollow.

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