Oh Say, Can’t He See?

We have the invaluable privilege of living in a gloriously free country which gives citizens like Colin Kaepernick the right to do whatever he pleases when the National Anthem is played.

But my question is this: if he disrespects America and what our flag stands for so much–enough to make a very purposeful, public display of that disrespect–then why does he continue to endure the “oppression” that he feels America represents?  Why doesn’t he live in (insert name of imaginary greater country with more opportunities, less oppression, and fewer “bodies in the street”)? Oh wait…I know why…because this is the ONLY country in the world that allows a hypocrite like him to get a free college education before landing a job playing professional football which pays him an exorbitant salary and affords him an extremely lavish lifestyle DESPITE his virulent reprehension for that country. 

This is the only country where he can utilize his right to free speech to disparage the very brave men and women of all races who voluntarily fought in wars to win him that freedom. 

Allow me to illustrate it this way: if all the countries of the world put their “problems” and injustices in a pot with the chance to pull out the “problems” of another country instead, after looking into that pot, we would be quick to take back our own problems instead of those of another less fortunate country. 

There are war ravaged countries in this world where people are starving, living in terror and being separated from their children while there are literally (not figuratively) bloodied and dismembered bodies lying in the streets. We, as Americans, do not find ourselves in this situation for one reason: we are the land of the free. Everyone is free; not just some. And we owe that privilege to the generations of brave men and women who have fought valiantly for the rights and freedoms of all Americans. 

So for Kaepernick to disrespect the people whose blood won our freedom and those who continue to protect that freedom today, is downright despicable and is akin to a petulant child pouting “not fair!” with his arms folded while he hoards all the toys.

Kaepernick is certainly entitled to be disgruntled about what he perceives as injustice for people in this country. But taking a stand in a football uniform and blatantly disrespecting, on that stage, the country that afforded him the very privilege of wearing that uniform misses the mark and has the feel of an egotistical, hypocritical, self serving gesture. If he is truly interested in fixing what he thinks is broken, he should hang up his cleats, travel the world to see what true oppression looks like in 2016, and then come home to live in an urban neighborhood where he can become a social activist and directly affect change (because he is most certainly free to do that). 

But he won’t do that because that demonstration was for show. Put your money where your mouth is, Kap. 

Remember Pat Tillman? He took off his football uniform and traded it in for an Army uniform, left his loving family behind, and died fighting for what he believed in. HE is a man I respect and admire. It is men and women like him to whom I pay tribute when I stand, hand on my heart, head held high and tears in my eyes when I sing our National Anthem. That’s because I’m a proud and grateful American. I will not apologize for that. 

Watching a backup quarterback pout on the sidelines to make a political statement is a farce and it is a desperate, pathetic attempt to make himself relevant. I hate to break it to you Kap, but you’re just not that influential. Get over yourself. 

Change and healing require ACTION. He could have chosen to stand up and DO something if he doesn’t  like what is happening in this country. Maybe he does work tirelessly behind the scenes using his many resources to raise awareness of this racial crisis, I don’t know. If so, I can get behind that. But a blanket misplaced disrespect for our flag and our nation isn’t productive in any way. 

It’s purpose was to polarize; to pit Americans against one another. Which, if I’m not mistaken, is the very thing he claims to be protesting. BE the change you desire, Colin. Don’t make this kind of hollow, pompous gesture and wait for other people to make the change for you. Playing the victim is for cowards. STAND UP. 

My point is, in THIS instance, the outright show of disrespect was misplaced. And Kap used his celebrity to contribute more divisiveness to an already racially hostile environment while simultaneously insulting anyone who fought for or lost their lives in the pursuit of freedom. This anthem sitting controversy is not a question, to me, about whether or not racism exists or picking a side in a growing social movement. It is a question of what other, perhaps, more respectful way he could have chosen to constructively and more appropriately improve the situation which he bemoans, instead of adding fuel to the proverbial fire. 

I don’t begrudge Colin Kaepernick his feelings on racial matters. It is, after all, his first amendment right to think and say what he wants. But our flag and our great nation were an unfair target of his anger in this specific instance. 

And now, in the aftermath, instead of taking a step back and reflecting on the ripples of his actions, he has doubled down on his position and announced to the world that he will continue to sit. Well then. I hope that the ’49er fans continue to sit also…at home on their couches on Sundays. 

This is quite an ironic outfit for a flag hater.