When my news feed exploded with articles and memes about Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem, my initial reaction was to roll my eyes. My next move was to comb through his social media accounts to get a better picture of his mentality. I’ve read a plethora of articles expressing outrage that defies logic and I’ve sifted through the “Black Twitter” praise and solidarity posts. Here are my thoughts.
- It’s America and the First Amendment to the Constitution stills exists.
He is an American citizen and, as such, he is free to express his opinions however misguided they may be. The unpopularity of his speech and his refusal to stand have absolutely no bearing on the matter. Calls for him to leave the country or be thrown in jail are ridiculous. While conservatives may disagree with his arguments, they should defend his right to make them.
- He didn’t say that he was being personally oppressed.
Many of his detractors keep posting memes about his multi-million dollar house and current base salary of $11.9 million ($114 million contract). Others have pointed to his adoption by a White family and rise from obscurity to fame as the embodiment of the American Dream. If you check out his social media, he is very thankful for his adoptive family and posts about his siblings frequently. That wasn’t the point of his protest. He knows he is not Jesse Owens or Jackie Robinson. They actually were oppressed and disrespected throughout their illustrious careers. (I’ll allow that his own experience should have helped him realize that America is one of the few countries where his story would have had such a happy ending.)
- As far as protests go, his decision to sit was pretty tame.
His protest was personal and nonviolent. He didn’t block intersections or lay hands on anyone. His employers, the San Francisco 49er’s and the NFL, are the only ones who could have a legal issue with his actions. They have rightly issued statements saying that they cannot force him to stand during the anthem. If they don’t want the attention or distraction, the team can follow through on their preseason efforts to trade him to another team. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote nonviolent protest is moral and one who engages in it must be prepared for the consequences. Kaepernick has acknowledged that he may lose sponsorships or hurt his career. That is his decision. Conscience matters. Fans and others who don’t like it can protest by not buying tickets or burning his jersey while the “Star Spangled Banner” plays in the background (see YouTube).
- Kaepernick has bought into certain ideologies which have twisted his thinking, obscured the root causes, and caused him to advocate for his beliefs in an unproductive way.
He was raised Methodist, confirmed as a Lutheran, and attended Baptist churches during college. For what it’s worth, he has multiple Bible verses, symbols, and Christian phrases tattooed all over his body. Unfortunately, a quick perusal of his recent Twitter and Instagram will reveal an insane amount of alleged police brutality acquittals, articles by provocateur Shaun King, Malcolm X quotes, and Black Lives Matter talking points. As the Bible says what goes into a man corrupts him and out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. I think he is focusing on the wrong issues and his initial statement and subsequent comments were overly broad. His pledge to continue to sit until he feels the flag isn’t oppressing people is illogical and only serves to bring attention to him. Hashtag advocacy and appearing to disrespect the flag aren’t going to change hearts and minds or bring about significant change. Lastly, his decision to wear a Malcom X hat and Fidel Castro tee-shirt while railing against inequality, institutional racism, and police brutality illustrates the height of cognitive dissonance. As Jason Whitlock tweeted, “Kap, like a lot of folks, doesn’t know what is driving the train he’s riding. Fueled by Marxists and Communists.”
I pity the fool.
P.S. My advice for Kaepernick is work on your QBR (26th out of 33 NFL QB’s) and read some Thomas Sowell books in the offseason.
P. S. After reading through Kaepernick’s social media posts, I needed to watch a clip of one of my favorite movies.