The San Francisco 49ers quarterback, whose lackluster play could soon cost him his starting position on the team or even his spot on the roster, has created a firestorm by refusing to stand while the National Anthem is played before games this fall.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick was quoted as saying to NFL Media. “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.”
Before I launch into my tirade about Kaepernick’s decision, let me say up front that I fully support his right to speak and act in accordance with his beliefs. There are no rules, regulations or laws that require an athlete or anyone else in this country to pay respect when the colors are presented and the anthem is played as it is before nearly every sporting event in the United States. The U.S. Constitution guarantees him the right to make his statement. It also guarantees him the right to live with the consequences of everything he says and does.
I respect that he feels strongly about certain events that have been widely reported in the press of late. I respect that in his own way he is doing something about what he perceives to be a grave injustice. Given the enormous tide of negative publicity he is generating I have to respect his courage to do what he did.
That’s where my respect for him comes to a very hard, cold, bitter end.
First of all, let’s explore his assertion that the United States is a country that “oppresses black people and people of color.” Seriously!? Try asking Olympic champions Simone Manuel or Simone Biles how oppressed they feel by their country right now. Super Bowl MVP and former Aggie Von Miller was awarded a record $114.5 million contract extension with the Denver Broncos. He’s black and I bet he’s really feeling oppressed. Even Kaepernick, who is biracial, will make $11.9 million in base salary this year and he won’t even have to take a single snap. I guess as a privileged white guy I’ll never understand oppression like that.
Outside the sports arena, the President of the United States – and arguably the most powerful man in the world – is black. One of his likely successors, although white, is a woman. Yeah, this country is really oppressing minorities.
It appears that Kaepernick is caught up in the hype of the Black Lives Matter movement and all of the protests over the handful of white cops who have shot and killed black suspects and “gotten away with murder.” To listen to Kaepernick and others in the movement, one would have to conclude that the police go around randomly killing black people for no reason at all and just leave “bodies in the streets.” They would have you believe it’s epidemic.
I submit to you that the opposite is true. If you don’t believe me, just ask the families of Darren Goforth of Houston and Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens and Michael Smith of Dallas, all law enforcement officers gunned down by “oppressed” blacks for no other reason than the color of their skin and the uniform on their backs.
One of the things Kaepernick’s protest doesn’t consider are the individual motivations behind each of the killings he is upset about. To be sure there are bad apples in uniform who need to be weeded out and punished. They are very few, however, compared to the many who put their lives on the line every day that they pull on their uniform and go to work protecting the lives, liberty and property of everyone, including those who would deprive them of the same.
If a cop kills a suspect because he reasonably believes his or another life is in imminent danger – even if it later turns out that the suspect is unarmed – I would call that an act of safety and self-preservation, not racism. Unfortunately, if the cop happens to be white and the suspect black, it’s looked upon as racism, the facts not withstanding.
While there is no denying that racism and police brutality do exist and are problems that need to be dealt with, I think Kaepernick and company could find a better way to express themselves than by taking dump on the entire country. Make no mistake that by disrespecting the flag and the National Anthem that is exactly what Kaepernick has done. He has disrespected the hundreds of thousands of men and women of all creeds and colors who sacrificed their lives to defend the “oppressive” country that gave him the right to sit on the bench. He has taken a dump on the men and women in uniform who guard and protect him in the stadium where he sits, in the streets he drives on to get there and in the home where I’m sure he struggles so mightily to get by.
You know, it’s ironic that here in Texas this spring and in Louisiana this summer we suffered horrible flooding that affected many people of color – all colors. Yet I do not recall seeing him or anyone else in the Black Lives Matter movement coming to give aid or help people in need. I doubt he even wrote a check to support any of the relief organizations. I bet he was content to leave the rescue and recovery efforts to the members of law enforcement, fire, EMS and the National Guard. We know they responded to help no matter what color the victims were.
Getting back to Kaepernick’s assertion that America is a country that oppresses blacks and people of color, if that is true, why are there so many people crossing the border with Mexico to get here? Are they coming for oppression or opportunity? If America is so oppressive, maybe he would like to try living in China, North Korea, anywhere in the Middle East or most any country in South and Central America. I’m sure he would find great freedom and equality in any of those places.
But what do I know? I’m just another privileged white guy who goes around oppressing minorities every chance I get. No, I’ve never been a cop and I’ve never been in the military. I am an Eagle Scout and have spent countless hours learning about, saluting and respecting the flag. I have many close friends and relatives in law enforcement. My dad was Air Force, my brother Navy, my cousin a Marine and my brother-in-law is Army. Kaepernick has taken a dump on all of us. Maybe it’s time for the 49ers and the NFL to dump him.
Just one last thought to leave this on a lighter note, if Tim Tebow kneeling to pray is called Tebowing, is Kaepernick sitting on the bench now called Kaepernicking?