Colin Kaepernick is Right and You Know it
It is not a controversy. Nor is it a scandal. It is damn right American. Kaepernick is not the one who crossed the line to inappropriate. Rather, everyone else did when they carved that line in the sand, took a side and started firing away.
Kaepernick made a simple gesture of protest in a preseason football game. He sat down during the national anthem. It was peaceful. No one was hurt. But Kaep’s simple statement started a wave of consequences that flowed into repercussions.
After the Twitterverse and the rest of social media’s bombastic messages to Kaep’s move, Kaep then had to explain himself. He had to dissect his personal choice into deeper details than even the usual magnifying glass questioning of tactics or decisions on the gridiron. Kaep was up for the challenge and he challenged us right back. He is using his platform as an NFL quarterback to push a conversation into the spotlight. He wants to voice what he feels are social injustices. Kaep offers reasonable solutions such as accountability and more qualified police officer’s training. His concerns are not unwarranted and as a society we need to address them with a better game plan. Doing nothing and considering nothing is not progress.
A majority of the media does not listen to the arguments and does not hear the concerns. It focuses on the imagery of a football player defying tradition. People get riled up that he is being disrespectful to the flag, the military, etc. Forget his explanation that he intends no disrespect because no one is remembering that. Apparently, he is out of line by displaying a symbolic peaceful form of protest on a public stage where few get the opportunity. That is American. That is quintessential to American values and beliefs to be able to peacefully protest the status quo.
Disagreeing with him is also perfectly American. He can be wrong and you can voice your opposition too. But demanding that his protests should be stopped is flat out wrong. Suppression is wrong and football is not above it all. Protests reveal issues, which leads to conversations that create avenues of progress where multiple sides work together. It is about recognizing an injustice, bringing it to the forefront, and then we deal with it as a united society.
Unfortunately, protests too often devolve into sides. Who’s side are you on? Who’s side do you take? Who is right? These are the wrong questions. These questions divide people into positions, which are fought tooth and nail with very little wavering. If you are forced onto a team then you will defend that team. The questions should no longer be about who, but rather how. How do we solve police brutality? How do you reduce homicides with more training? How does the community embrace cooperation with the police? When you ask the how, you are no longer taking a position but rather you are discussing problems and solutions. Every single how question requires all sides to discuss and grapple back and forth.
The concept that the protesting during the national anthem is off limits is absolutely bull. There is no sacred object that demands my obedience without reason. I was once threatened with physical violence at a MLS game because I didn’t take off my hat during the anthem. I was told that “people have died so you can wear that hat.” I chuckled it off and turned around, not wishing to engage the meathead that had his sights targeted on me. In truth, people have died for me to do whatever I want to do with that hat. That is America’s freedom and that is America’s tradition. America’s other “tradition” is that you have to take your hat off and salute the flag with obedience. Some call that tradition. I call that America’s fascism. It’s the same “tradition” that deems we must keep the Redskins as an acceptable NFL name. This isn’t about disrespect. This is about authoritarian ideals cramming “traditions” and “disrespectful behavior” into the lexicon to cloud the real issues and suppress people.
One Friday night I was playing in my weekly pick up soccer game. Our game happens to take place on an adjacent field to a high school football field. We played there joyously to escape and play freely without disturbing others. We were perfectly allowed to play there. It was a public field. However, someone from the brass was sent down from the football game to tell us in no uncertain terms that we had to stop playing for the national anthem. That it was disrespectful for us not to salute the flag and that they were going to get someone to kick us of the field unless we complied. Never mind that our friendly soccer game started well before their official football game, on a separate field where we had been playing for hours. Never mind that the majority of the players in my pick up game were foreigners and had no blind allegiance to salute the American flag. But authority or apparent authority has its powers. So for every subsequent week, an hour or two into our pick up game we had to stop our fun and face the flag with a bunch of immigrants trying to further understand American culture. They are told they must stop what they’re doing and respect the American flag, or the police will be called to shut our friendly soccer game down. Again, that is bull.
My family has felt the burn of tradition. Tradition was a key ingredient to Japanese Internment. Apparently, Japanese Americans, (you know, U.S. citizens) did not fit the traditional mold of America and therefore a swift incarceration of over 100,000 people was carried out. We were enemies simply because of our ancestry. I refuse to accept that there are American traditions that we must obey or else. I refuse to accept that Muslim Americans are next. I refuse to accept that minority oppression is the way of America.
I’m with you Kaep. Go Niners.