Colin Kaepernick, This Veteran Salutes You.
Why is everyone so butthurt about this?
I feel like I’m a little late on this boat, but I’ll go ahead and jump right in the cascading blogosphere on this one.
Last night, around 7:30CT, just minutes before the Rams’ offense would slowly and single-handedly destroy my fantasy team, I turned to CNN and Fox News. I simply like to observe the news; I don’t consume it by any means.
Both channels were fervently discussing Colin Kaepernick and the National Anthem. I couldn’t help but wonder why this issue was being granted so much air time. Out of all the issues America — the world — currently has, both “news” channels decided this was the pertinent information of the hour.
Now I don’t say that to belittle Kaepernick’s cause either. The talking heads did what they do best: shifted the topic away from its focus. “Is Colin wrong?” became the primary focus, instead of “Why is Colin doing this?”
I don’t get it, but then again, I have read Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death. So maybe I do kind of get it.
My brain cells started to do that weird thing where they work sometimes. A thought came to my mind. This is newsworthy information because there are people out there who are genuinely angry about this. It’s drama. Drama makes good story-telling. Good story-telling makes good money. Good money makes executives happy — the good ones at least.
Follow the money… and that’s how the cookie crumbles. So much for not using clichés, eighth grade English teacher.
Then my brain cells started to do that weird thing where they travel through the part of the brain that processes emotional thought, and I had a faint feeling of uneasiness.
I should be mad about this, right?
I mean, I’m a veteran of the United States Army, thinking so pompously. How dare he challenge America? I literally signed my name on a piece of paper backed by my own blood for this country. I spent two years away from my wife. I lost friends. So forgive me if my first response was emotional rather than logical.
On a side note, this is why everyone should try to understand the viewpoints of veterans who seemed to be so perturbed by Colin’s actions — moreover so vocal about it. Although, I have seen just as many veterans that are not.
But with any action, the intention has to be evaluated.
Momma might slap ya because she’s an abusive drunk and always has been. Or momma might slap ya because she found you snorting Xanax from her medicine cabinet like a dumbass.
Context means everything in a world full of syntax.
So my thought, in turn, finally arrived at the part of the brain that processes logic (the prefrontal cortex? I don’t know, I’m not a neurologist). I had to evaluate Kaepernick’s intentions. Once this had been done, my uneasiness seemed to drift off.
His actions are freedom in its purest form. He is just as American as any six foot six, gnarly bearded, Seal Team Six, Osama-head-exploding soldier.
Alliteration aside, without military servicemembers, America is at the mercy of global geopolitical winds. Sure, we can all disagree on the circumstances in which the military has been employed, but have you ever felt threatened, just for one moment, by an explicit foreign threat? Yeah, me neither. No one should take that for granted, just ask Poland.
But without America, the military servicemember is at the mercy of nihilism. If there is no expression of freedom, there is no cause. The whole institution becomes meaningless.
Men and women in uniform don’t die for a piece of red, white, and blue stitched cloth, probably made in China of all places. They don’t die for the coolest tune written on a boat, crescendoed with a round of fireworks and a badass display of military might flying overhead. They die for what the flag represents. They die for the ideas located in the Constitution.
It doesn’t take long to find the idea for a right to protest.
I say this all because I get the feeling that it is those who are the greatest supporter of military institutions that seem to be so upset by Kaepernick’s kneeling. What I’m simply stating, as one of those people, is that it is those very same people who should be most supportive of him.
Expression of freedom gives rise to the cause. It is the banner by which we fight for. Sometimes I wish North Korea would pop off, so we could obliterate Kim Jong Un’s fat little face. (He just has one of those smug faces that pisses you off). Those people have no freedom. They can’t kneel in protest. Taking a knee means their whole family loses their ability to stand at all. I digress…
Every moment a freedom is expressed, whether we agree with it or not, is a moment that honors those who died for such liberty. This is the simplest truth I can put forward.
As such, I salute you, Colin Kaepernick. You’re not out rioting in the streets. You’re not out torching the stores of hard-working individuals. You are directing debate in a concise and non-violent manner. That is commendable any day of the week.
Now I’m not saying everyone has to agree with the man. Hell, I probably disagree with him on the causes of impartial police brutality. I don’t really think racism is at play here. The problem, I can say with a fair amount of certainty, is the unintended consequences of the drug war, among other bad policies.
That is a discussion for a different day. The moral aptitude and freedom of Kaepernick to express his own opinion in an honorable way should stand regardless.
If you find yourself quite annoyed by his actions, here’s a bit of military advice, always so gracefully expressed, that I learned during my time in the service, “Man the fuck up, drink water, and drive on.”
Give some thought to it. Your thought will arrive at that logical part of the brain soon enough — I swear it’s the prefrontal cortex damnit.