I admit it: I have never been a huge Colin Kaepernick fan. I don’t like all the tattoos and I have thought him a bit of a doofus when he has spoken to the media — like so many of his fellow N.F.L. players. Colin is, of course, the wannabe quarterback of the San Fransisco Forty-Niners football team. Before the last two pre-season football games he has refused to stand during the national anthem as a protest against what he perceives as injustices in this country, particularly injustices involving minorities. He also includes in his protest, as I understand it, the inaction of those paid to “serve and protect” the minorities and other disadvantaged persons. This topic has been very nicely discussed in a recent post by Jill Dennison that I reblogged. It is well worth reading.
The interesting thing about Colin’s protest is that the protest itself has drawn more attention (and ire) than the injustices it is directed against. It is seen by many as unpatriotic despite the fact that the First Amendment of our Constitution guarantees each of us the right to speak our minds and express ourselves as we see fit. I would argue that he is being a bit of a rebel in the true American spirit. This country is guilty of a great many injustices against minorities, increasingly of late. And we have seen the police reluctant to step in and even to over-react when they do step in. Theirs is a difficult role to play in neighborhoods where the tempers are at the boiling point and violence is just a word away. I don’t envy them in the least.
But the fact that this young man would choose to draw attention to a situation that needs to be addressed should be applauded, not condemned. It takes great courage these days to stand up for what one believes, and for that alone Kaepernick is to be praised. Whether or not his action will have the desired effect is doubtful, and there is always the possibility that it will have a reverse effect — especially in today’s political climate. But as an action in protest of an injustice it is not to be condemned as “unpatriotic.” After all, the flag he chooses to refuse to salute does represent his right to protest. And the actions he is protesting against are not those of a country that prides itself on taking and holding the moral high ground.
As a nation we have much to answer for of late and we have never fully accepted the equality of the races. Lincoln thought we never would. And with a major politician with a mouth far too large raising temperatures and tempers around the country, waiving red flags in front of bigots and racists, the injustices Kaepernick is protesting against become all too visible.
We need to pause and reflect just what it is this country stands for. If for no other reason, Colin Kaepernick is to be lauded for his stand.
And I applaud you, Hugh, for your stand on this and for being willing to tackle it! I agree 100% with you, and I know that you and I are in the minority here, but I decided against writing about it at this time. I’m glad you did, though. As you said, his protest is not likely to do anything to fight the injustices he is protesting, as the very act of protest seems to be the focus, but he stood (or didn’t stand, per se) for what he believes in, and I am all for that. I just hope that in future efforts, he uses his opportunities in ways that might actually bring the actual issues into the spotlight. And thanks, by the way, for the mention!
You are most welcome! I think the thing that impressed me most is that an athlete is using his position to make a statement about a terribly important social issue. So often they remain silent and simply play their games. I applaud this man.
Our country gives an American the right to protest. I recall the Dixie Chicks who were vilified for what turns out to be their correct concerns over our invasion of Iraq. I also remember Tommy Smith and John Carlos on the 1968 Olympic stand who flashed the Black Power sign in protest. What many forget is a significant number of Black Americans refused to participate in the Olympics with the civil rights violations and murders of MLK and RFK. I also recall Jesse Owens who returned from Berlin to America with four Gold Medals, but had to ride the service elevator because he was Black in a hotel hosting an event to honor him.
As I said to Jill, the significant thing about this protest is that it involves an athlete focusing on a matter of social injustice, whereas most athletes keep their protests to their salaries.
As you have preached, famous athletes have tended not to risk their endorsements, such as Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. I am pleased to see Michael Jordan donating $2 million to help the police and African American community have better dialogue and find solutions.
Good for Tiger. I am surprised (though I didn’t know I “preached”!!)
You preach the truth, but I think you are preaching to the choir. By the way, it was Jordan who made the recent donation. Tiger remains silent on issues of import, as do most golfers so as not to offend their audience.
Jordan is also surprising. Tiger doesn’t have much of an audience these days. I think there is only one Democrat on the PGA tour as I recall. It’s a tough audience!
To your point, David Feherty had Trump on his show to humanize him.