I have been reading the news and the opinions of many bloggers and pundits who have weighed in on the great Kaepernick scandal of 2016. It seems Mr. Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, refused to stand for the national anthem at the last preseason game, drawing the ire of many who felt he was disrespecting the country. Kaepernick claimed he was sitting out of protest, stating “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people…” Many liberals support him while many conservatives want his head on a pike, which is the expected dichotomy in such a situation. Polemics is always a binary thing where compromise is impossible.
In the past eight years, the country has experienced a shift from the middle to extremes. Liberals are complaining that the president they supported is not liberal enough while conservative complain that he is too far to the left. Social issues that were once polite water cooler discussion material are now banned from being discussed in the workplace out of fear of creating a hostile work environment. Many people are wondering why, given the historic election of a black president, the country seems more divided on the issue of race than since the civil rights movement of the sixties. Has the country created new racially motivated laws designed to segregate and oppress a certain group of people? Have businesses enacted policies to force a certain group of people to slave away their labor for free? Has congress brought back the practice of selling people on the auction block?
Somehow, I doubt it.
Citizens of this country, all citizens of all colors, enjoy more freedoms today than at any time in the country’s history. Now, more than ever, a young “man of color” can achieve anything for which he is willing to work. Yet, with all the freedoms being afforded to every citizen, people are still operating under the impression that the country is oppressing “the black man.”
This is fallacy.
This country oppresses no one. For the last 40 years, our laws have been written to be as inclusive as the language will allow and in some cases, the language was altered to make it more inclusive. Yet, even with that, people still complain that they feel excluded. Unfortunately, there is no language to make the insane understand reality. Some people simply feel the way they feel and nothing can change that. These people feed on being a victim and if they lose that victimhood, they lose their only sense of identity.
Kaepernick was born of a white woman and a black man and adopted and raised by a white couple in a white family. He attended college and landed a slot on a professional football team. This is one of the true American dreams, especially for a “man of color.” But Kaepernick is buying into the rhetoric that the left promotes, claiming that blacks are still oppressed by “the system.” The only system Kaepernick should worry about is the one that sent him to college and pays him millions of dollars to play a game.
Media rhetoric is fueled by the tensions surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and the anti-police sentiment that erupted out of protests of cops shooting black suspects. The media crafted a narrative that white cops are intentionally targeting and gunning down black men simply because they are black. This has been proven a false claim and in every incident, grand juries have not found the police guilty of any crime. Every “poor young man of color” that was shot by the police was in the process of breaking a law and resisting arrest. Even other allegations of police malfeasance are based on cases whereby a citizen is intentionally antagonistic towards the police. If one goes looking for trouble, one should not be surprised when one finds it.
There is no systemic black oppression going on in this country. Hasn’t been for decades. Are there prejudiced people out there who dislike blacks? Of course there are. There always will be. But there is no law or policy that directs the oppression of the black people…or any other people, for that matter. Except maybe for Christians. There are laws and cases in the courts targeting Christians. So, Kaepernick, why don’t you sit down in protest over the anti-Christian movement and Christian oppression? At least that’s a real and documented thing.
Should Kaepernick be forced to stand for the national anthem? No. Should he have stood? Yes. Was he a dick for sitting? Definitely. In this country, however, we have freedom of expression. If citizens wish to make statements in protest, they can do that. The 19th century English author Evelyn Beatrice Hall once wrote in expressing the beliefs of Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This is the foundation of our freedom of speech as enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Freedom of protest is a right that is protected. Kaepernick cannot be arrested nor fined by the government for sitting in protest during the playing of the national anthem. It is his right.
Just as it is his right to be an asshole.
I will not rehash what many conservative pundits have said about how men have died to protect that freedom and the wars fought to give him that freedom, but suffice to say his sitting is a slap in the face to all patriots and all those who have sacrificed for this country. Yes even the black men. It is also a slap in the face to the civil rights movement. If someone intentionally offends a group of people, that person should face consequences. I’m not saying he should be arrested or fined by the government. That would be a violation of his first amendment rights. But the NFL could fine him. The 49ers could bench him. The fans could refuse to attend 49er games out of protest. The manager could put him on waivers. None of these consequences violate the first amendment.
Kaepernick said “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Now, that is his opinion and he is entitled to it. Clearly, he does not understand that these policemen did not commit murder, they acted in self defense. But Kaepernick has swallowed the media lie hook, line, and sinker and bought into the whole systemic oppression fallacy, like so many liberals have.
He needs to be educated, and a fine from the NFL would hopefully do just that. Don’t expect it to, however. The NFL is anti police anyway. Just ask the Dallas Cowboys, who were denied by the NFL when asking to honor fallen police officers killed during a mass shooting.