Colin Kaepernick: Being “That Guy”

A lone man refuses to do the Nazi salute, 1936.

A lone man refuses to do the Nazi salute, 1936.

That Guy in the picture above, in the midst of all public opinion to the contrary, said “Hey, something evil’s brewing and I will not support it.”

At the time, That Guy did not heil Hitler when all around him said he better do it. I guarantee you he was hounded, cursed, his business ruined or fired from his job, kids kicked out of school, wife snubbed at the grocery store, and bank loans called. And that’s the best-case scenario. More than likely he was shot, hanged, or burned in public…as an example. That Guy’s wife and kids were killed too, after each drop of slave labor was wrung from them.

And all for what reason? Because That Guy’s conscience told him he could not support what he knew was a really bad thing.

That Guy in the picture has had history prove him to be brave, smart, and prescient. That Guy was the canary in the mine. I understand that guy as I’ve been him too many times. Which is why I’m taking up for Colin Kaepernick.

You see, whether he knows it or not, Kaepernick believes himself to be That Guy.

ColinKaepernick_NotStandingforAnthem

As a protest against the government, Colin Kaepernick not standing for national anthem.

Of course believing something doesn’t make it so. Kaepernick is not in full possession of all the facts concerning blacks being murdered with what he believes to be tacit approval of the U.S. and local governments. His conclusion deletes all other inconvenient truths such as:

That whites get killed in the same manner at double the rate of blacks.
 That it is not only white police who pull those triggers.
 And, sadly, that mistakes happen.

Colin is young. I don’t doubt his sincerity. Young folks who care deeply often do not see the full story behind situations, and start marching and hollering and doing all sorts of public stunts — and everybody yawns.

But when you see people protesting who have a lot to lose — jobs and families — or are old, that’s when you know the situation is really serious.

Further, it is my opinion Colin truly does care, and is using his high profile to bring attention to a matter that is important to him.

Can he find a better way to do it? Maybe. Nevertheless, for those feeling patriotically indignant towards Kaepernick, and making snide remarks about his choice of expression to bring attention to a difficult matter important to him, I would make this reminder:

Slippery slopes have hard landings.

Forcing anybody to salute any flag is wrong.

Just ask the 11 million people killed during the Holocaust (1.1 million children). Six million Jews targeted specifically for their religion and race. But the other five million were made up of Jehovah’s Witnesses — especially hated by Hitler — and other Christians — individual priests and groups; homosexuals; the disabled; blacks; mixed-race children; actors; musicians; doctors; professors; Roma Gypsies; and anybody else who didn’t submit to evil, who said no to the forced heil, and spoke their minds against Hitler and his evil machinations.

We won’t even bring into the discussion the human rights records of North Korea, the Soviet Union, China, or Cambodia, among others.

Of all human rights, freedom of speech is the hardest because it allows for differences to be spoken and even acted upon.

Colin Kaepernick has the right not to salute. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love his country. In fact, I think he does love his country. His not saluting the flag to get attention on a difficult matter proves it.

So those of you out there who are simply hounding him because he didn’t salute, stop it. Instead, ask him why. Ask him for proof of his deeply held opinion.

Debate those issues, but never force the saluting.

Germany’s citizens who still deal with Hitler’s long shadow, ask them how difficult that is.