Freedom of speech. If you are an American you would likely die to protect that freedom. That includes treatment of the flag. No law exists to punish anyone for defacing or destroying or defaming the flag because of our freedom of speech. You can burn it, stomp on it, rip it up… and we will defend unto our deaths anyone’s right to do that. BUT… there’s very little in our makeup as Americans that sends us into rabid rage more than seeing our icons of freedom treated with disrespect, whether it’s Islamic protesters in a Middle East country tearing down an embassy flag, or some pro sports figure here at home deciding to sit during the playing of the National Anthem before a game in some self-serving protest about America.
You’ve all heard and seen it by now, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, decided to protest police violence against blacks by sitting down during the playing of the National Anthem. Coincidentally my last post included my remarks about an earlier similar display done at the 1968 Olympics by winning athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos holding their fists into the air in defiant protest during the National Anthem. It’s the visual that pisses everyone off.. the reasons being salt in the wound… sometimes. In the case of Smith and Carlos back in 1968, they stated they were calling attention to an organization called the Olympic Project for Human Rights. But on TV they looked like militant Black Panthers holding up their fists in some defiant black power sign. So much for their cause.
Getting back to Mr. Kaepernick, his reason just made things a bit worse to add to the image.
“I am not going to stand up and show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Ok.. I can get quietly pissed at seeing some clown (yes… an opportunistic clown because he wasn’t thinking about his cause.. just himself) perform a defiant gesture during the Anthem and blow it off. But his reason really got me thinking on a couple levels given there’s actually support for this guy.
- Generally speaking we stand for the National Anthem out of a common respect for the principles of freedom we have fought to maintain, recognizing those who have defended those principles with their lives, and establishing our flag as the banner that represents our nation and those principles. It seems using the theater of the Anthem being played as your own personal public presentation of your own political agenda is just self-serving opportunism at the expense of using shock value to win supporters.
- His reason statement (above) doesn’t make sense. His problem is with police violence yet he says he “…has no pride for a country that oppresses black people.”. Huh? I don’t recall me or any of my white brethren oppressing any blacks. I certainly don’t recall anything in the Constitution mandating the country to oppress black people. Last I recall, we have a black president, and I don’t seem to recall him oppressing any black people. Here’s something else… if Mr. Kaepernick has gotten stopped by profiling racist cops in his life and wants to use that as some grand struggle for civil rights, I think he needs to go back to school. He’s had far more opportunities in the way our country has evolved since Dr. King and company fought the good fight back in the 60’s. I am sure he’s not suffered any true oppression in his pursuit of football. There is police violence and racist people in the world and no question that needs to be fixed but the problems are far more complex than just saying the whole country is oppressive. Grow up, Kaepernick. Frankly, an old phrase from the 60’s pops into my head when I read your reason for sitting… America, love it or leave it. If you are so oppressed in this country to the point that you can’t respect the icons that stand for our basic ideals and freedoms, then jeez, pal.. find someplace you DO like because life is too short to be suffering in those chains you want to wear.
Now… it would seem to me a better use of your time in pro football is to use your popular station as a member of a pro team to start some group, organization, whatever, that actually attempts to address at least one of the many problems of police violence and disadvantaged black youths in poor neighborhoods of color. Heck, strive to be the best player you can so you get more press and more interviews, and use that as your podium. You will have a better chance of being respected and admired rather than fade away as just another pissed off ball player, making millions in your lifetime and not relating to anyone struggling in the real world.
In the end all you did was alienate the audience you wanted to inform and win to your side.