In Defense of Colin Kaepernick

I really didn’t want to have to do this.

I mean, really didn’t want to have to do this.

I was actually in the middle of writing a very important post for this site, one that would have been the first in a few months. I’d rather be finishing that up. But instead, I find myself talking about the latest thing that has America’s panties in a bunch, Mr. Colin Kaepernick and his decision not to stand during the National Anthem.

I suppose a brief recap of events is in order just in case you haven’t turned on a TV or radio in the last few days. The NFL preseason is underway. This fact in itself, despite being nothing but a bunch of garbage time games in which aspiring players and aging veterans vie for roster spots, is newsworthy— in this country, there’s nothing we love more than watching 22 sweaty men run around a rectangular box in the name of sport. It doesn’t matter that most of the good guys don’t play anyway; the preseason games still attract a moderate following, and with all those sets of eyes, nothing goes unnoticed. Someone in the stands or a TV cameraman (although, admittedly, I haven’t even been able to find video footage of the damn thing) at the San Francisco 49ers-Green Bay Packers game noticed that backup 9ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick wasn’t standing when the national anthem was played during the pregame ceremonies.

And the internet.went.balistic.

It was all hellfire and brimstone! Chants of “crucify him,” resounded throughout the digital space we’re all so obsessed with, and somewhere, Ronald Reagan & JFK were rolling over in their graves. Your grandmother was telling you that people like Kaepernick are “exactly what’s wrong with America these days,” and your uncle who loves to golf on Saturdays lamented about how “that just ain’t right.” One crazy man posted this video to Facebook.

If you haven’t quite caught the drift yet, people across the country were super pissed off that one dude didn’t stand up for a song. And it doesn’t make any sense.

Just What the Hell is Free Speech, Anyway?

I’m going to quote that one amendment that all of you seem to only remember when it’s convenient for the purpose of your shitty Twitter arguments:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Whether you agree with it or not, Kaepernick’s decision to sit down during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner was the ultimate display of what America is all about. Please, find me the part in the constitution where it says “Stand up whenever we play this song that was written by some dude over 200 years ago because we are MURICA and we said so, damn it!” Go ahead, I’ll wait. That’s right, there is no such part because it would be unlawful to have one!

This whole country was founded on freedom. Therefore, if a man doesn’t want to stand up for the anthem, he doesn’t have to. Yet for some reason, this man has been scorned. And why is it such a big deal? Because this dude plays professional football.

You Only Care Because Kaepernick is an Athlete

Let me give you a scenario. A Muslim man is attending his son’s school sporting event. He’s wearing a turban. The national anthem begins to play, and everyone in the stands takes off his or her hat. The Muslim father does not, because it is a violation of his religion. Hell, he doesn’t even stand because he’s new to the country and isn’t sure if he feels comfortable doing so just yet. Unless you live in a place full of Islamaphobes, nobody bats an eyelash. They all respect the man’s decision, his privacy, and are understanding about how that situation might make the man feel. It’s no biggie.

Now, imagine we’re at the same game. The quarterback of the home team, a white American, refuses to stand. He’s probably dragged upwards by his coach, or chastised by his teammates. You make a note of it; it’s odd, but you let it go. It doesn’t matter.

Next thing: We’re at an NFL game. A 49ers game. Colin Kaepernick remains seated on the bench when the song starts playing and OH MY GOD EVERYONE LOSES THEIR FUCKING MINDS WHAT THE HELL! Wait, I’m getting confirmation that this last thing actually did happen. Well, at least we all know the outcome.

The difference between the three scenarios I just laid out is simple: Colin Kaepernick plays in the NFL, and somehow that means that he’s expected to adhere to a higher standard than the rest of America. He makes his living throwing a ball for people to watch on TV, and whenever he does something those people don’t agree with, they throw hissy fits. For those of you upset by his actions, ask yourselves a question: Would you really give a fuck if he were a laundromat worker? No, you wouldn’t, and that’s because you wouldn’t even hear about it. As Americans, we idolize the people who play sports. When those idols prove to us that they are, in fact, human beings, (usually by doing something unexpected, like, you know, making their own choices) we lose our shit. And thousands of other people lose their shit with us. And it’s not okay. Why does it matter if Kaepernick uses his following to promote an opinion that you don’t agree with? I love cucumbers, but I don’t eat the ends! You don’t have to embrace every single thing a person stands for; just recognize that said person has the right to do whatever the fuck he or she wants to do and it all falls under the 1st amendment.

Common Arguments Against Kaepernick

The entire reason I began writing this post is because I kept seeing the same posts on Twitter over and over again. Every last one of them was shaming Kaep for sitting, and not a single one brought up any valid points. It’s time to dispel the bullshit, comment by comment.

1) The Blind Patriotism Argument

This argument, admittedly, is limited to racist morons who cling to the belief that the United States of America is a perfectly run country where people are treated exactly the same and no one has anything to complain about. Followers of this logic can typically be seen wearing a camo baseball cap with a fishhook on the brim, a wad of Skoal tobacco stuffed in their upper lip, and boots that go up to their kneecaps. They believe that the US is the greatest place on earth to live, and everyone who doesn’t get to enjoy the nation’s benefits is jealous or of Arabic descent. When it comes to Kaepernick, the blind patriot can be heard shouting “This is our country and our flag! If you don’t like it you can leave!” Spit.

The biggest issue with this argument is that it ignores the reason Kaepernick stood up in the first place. It operates under the assumption that the “everyone is created equal” tidbit in the Holy Document is taken literally, and it’s obvious that it isn’t. Blind patriots assume that since the quality of life in the US is higher than it is anywhere else in the world, that everyone who has an issue with anything should just suck it up, because, hey, you live in America! The idea that anyone would not stand up and look at their flag when a certain tune was played pisses these guys off; if you live in the country with them, you better play by their rules. (Funny how they have the right to fight for that 2nd amendment, though, right?)

2) I agree he has the right to protest, but he went about it in the wrong way.

These guys are only slightly better than their blind buddies. They’ll at least concede that Kaepernick has the right to stand and sit whenever he wants, regardless of what’s being played on the speakers. However, they follow that up with “But sitting during the national anthem is disrespectful. He could have used his influence in some other way.”

So you agree he can protest, but you bitch about how he did it? You recognize that a man sees a problem with the world, but because he doesn’t stand up at the “right” time it renders the entire thing moot? What do you want him to do, tweet about it?

The same people that say he “went about it the wrong way” are just scared to openly admit they don’t agree with his message. If Kaepernick had complained on Twitter, they’d tell him to stay focused on getting the starting job back. If he donated $50,000 to supply a police force with body cameras, they’d tell him to stop being such an activist. The fact of the matter is this: What Colin Kaepernick did got people talking. His protest worked like a charm. A win doesn’t have to be pretty, as long as it gets the job done.

3). If he thinks it’s that big of a problem, why doesn’t he do something else?

People who argue this are simply building off the last argument. Let me drop this here for you:

kapp

This is from the Kaepernick interview about why he sat down, which I doubt even 20% of you bothered to read. Kaepernick’s goal with this protest was to get people talking, and he’d move on to bigger things later. I’d say it worked, wouldn’t you?

4) What about all the men and women who died for that flag? He just disrespected all of them!

 

kaep comm 2

Just read the man’s words! Tell me he’s wrong! Brave men and women fight overseas for everyone to have equal opportunity in our country, and we still aren’t there yet. I don’t buy into the theory that policemen are hunting down blacks like dogs, but you’re an idiot if you don’t think black people are stopped on the street due to racial profiling. And even if you’re too dense to grasp that, we can all agree that we have a problem with homeless & starving veterans. According to Kaepernick, (backed up by his earlier comments) he’s speaking out in support of them, too. Use your brain on this: a disabled veteran who can’t find food or work is just as oppressed as anyone.

5) Kaepernick gets paid millions of dollars to throw a football. He isn’t oppressed.

This one should be outlawed on principle alone, but if you need some photo to refute this, here.

Transcript of Colin Kaepernick s comments about sitting during anthem   San Francisco 49ers Blog  ESPN

Kaepernick himself isn’t dumb enough to claim that he has it rough. He knows how mich of  privilege it is to play professional sports. I won’t expand on this quote because it goes hand-in-hand with my final point, which you’ll see briefly.

Why You’re Missing the Goddamn Point

As I showed in the last section, everyone upset about this entire thing just isn’t getting it. Colin Kaepernick didn’t sit down during the national anthem to disrespect your fucking flag. He did it to do exactly what he said he wanted to do: to use his platform to give a voice to those who go without one.You guys are the ones who put him on a pedestal, so listen when the man speaks. The fact that your panties got bunched up was part of the plan. He played you all like a puppet. You’ve been discussing this for a while, haven’t you? Hell, it had me scrambling to make my first post in damn near a year. And what are the two things anyone remembers from his statements? 1) That people are oppressed and 2) that we need to change it. This is something that shouldn’t have to be said, but apparently, it needs to be. I applaud Mr. Kaepernick for playing all of America like a fiddle and for having the sack to stand up (sit down) for what he believes in.

 

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