San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of the national anthem before Friday night’s 49ers-Green Packers exhibition game as a protest against the United States. He has apparently been doing all NFL preseason, but it wasn’t noticed until the most recent game.
Questioned about his certain to be controversial gesture, the mixed race athlete—he had one white parent, and was raised by a white adoptive parent—explained thusly:
“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.”
1. Give him credit for one thing: he isn’t trying to take advantage of the King’s Pass. His star immunity is at low ebb, since Kaepernick’s status with his team is shaky and his job as a first string quarterback is in doubt, not because of his political views, but because he has been injured too much and not all that great when healthy. What he did was not in his own best interests. It took guts.
So does leaping naked into a zoo’s tiger exhibit.
2. His action wasn’t a protest. It was grandstanding. It generated publicity for a message that was incoherent. All his gesture said was “Colin Kaepernick is upset and has an irrationally inflated concept of how much anyone cares, or should care.”
3. Kaepernick could have salvaged his act by being ready with a well-reasoned, well-stated, articulate and persuasive explanation. Based on what he said, which was ignorant, counter-factual and foolish, we must assume that he actually gave thought to his response, and that this pathetic statement was the best he could come up with. That shows him to be incompetent, ill-informed, and not very bright.
4. His statement was recycled Black Lives Matter propaganda, and should be treated as such. If the “bodies on the street” reference is to Mike Brown, the long-standing complaint that the dead teen was intentionally left on the Ferguson street where he was shot as a gesture of disrespect has been thoroughly debunked. If it is a reference to African Americans shot in confrontations with police, it is too general to be taken seriously. There are multiple-colored bodies on the street shot by black criminals too. All bodies matter.
5, The paid leave statement is per se idiotic, and reflects the idea given currency by Black Lives Matter that cops who shoot blacks should be presumed guilty. Since the job places officers in perilous situations where a fatal shooting is a daily possibility, police departments can not operate with policies that automatically suspend officers without pay before investigations have been completed. In addition to the fact that such treatment would be unjust, unfair and irresponsible, police unions wouldn’t stand for it, and courts wouldn’t permit it. Kaepernick’s own union has similar rules: if he were accused of murdering someone, the team would place him on paid leave.
6. The United States does not oppress blacks or “people of color.” Regarding the latter, the U.S. allows over 11 million illegal immigrants, mostly “of color,” remain in this country although they are here illegally. Spanish speaking people of color are not required to learn the language, as they should. The schools must accommodate their children, when they fail their parental responsibility of teaching them English, by providing translations of written material and oral instruction. The United States has distorted almost every aspect of society in long-standing, expensive, divisive and often futile efforts to undo the cultural disadvantages inflicted by slavery and institutionalized racism. 41.6 % of black Americans receive government assistance in an average month; 36.4 percent of Hispanics; 17.8 % of Asians or Pacific Islanders, contrasted with 13.2 % of whites. That’s not oppression. Affirmative action, whereby blacks receive college admission preferences over whites with similar or better test scores and academic credentials, is still allowed by the courts (though it should not be) and is still employed in a majority of colleges. That’s not oppression. The current Justice Department and other federal agencies have enacted policies, many of them of dubious value, that have been aimed at assisting African-Americans, such as prohibitions on renters seeking information about past criminal convictions. That’s not oppression either. Most important of all, U.S. culture emphatically rejects and punishes open expressions of racism, as well as a lot of speech and opinion that isn’t racist at all, but is punished anyway, just to be safe. That often constitutes oppression on behalf of people of color, and it is all-American.
7. The lack of self-awareness in Kaepernick’s statement is staggering. According to Spotrac, he is playing football under a 6 year, $114,000,000 contract including a $12,328,766 signing bonus, with $61,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $19,000,000. He certainly isn’t being oppressed. The oppressive system and nation he alleges didn’t do a very good job oppressing him. I suppose that’s because he is brilliant and remarkable, and defeated the best efforts of the U.S.A to oppress him. Is that his theory? Is so, Colin Kaepernick is not just ignorant and none too bright, but also an asshole.
8. Dorian Majied, an Army Ranger veteran who served in Iraq, responded to Kaepernick’s gesture of ingratitude and disrespect with a heartfelt rebuke that has been garnering praise on the web. I’m not as enthusiastic about it as some, because Majied panders by saying, gratuitously, “He made valid points…” What “valid points?” None of them are valid, and Kaepernick didn’t support any “points” with facts, presumably because he can’t.
9. Majied did make some valid and forceful points himself, however. Such as…
- “His sitting through the National Anthem was a lazy lack of will and brain power.”
- “As a member of a national organization, reaping the benefits of a country that apparently oppresses people who look like him, his argument is thin on a personal level.”
- “There are a myriad of other ways to conduct social protest for people of color, that don’t, whether by intent or otherwise, ignore the American principles that have given rise to extreme integration within a single American generation. My father was born without the right to vote and in one generation I’ve been blessed to lead amongst the world’s greatest fighting force.”
- “To disrespect the country that has afforded him the opportunities and fortunes he acquired is only made more offensive by the fact that his life is the personification of the ideals I see in the American flag and National Anthem: a biracial child, raised by white parents, and who has accomplished much despite his “oppression.” In how many more nations around the world can a story like that come to fruition?”
- “Kaepernick was wrong in his delivery and protested the wrong symbols of America. The American flag and National Anthem represent the highest of American ideals, not the lowest ideals.”