Monday, August 29, 2016

238. Kaepernick

I’ve always loved the quote, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” I think that applies to everything you do, especially protesting. And good for Colin Kaepernick, he’s making a good, principled protest.

To put this out there at the beginning, I wouldn’t sit down for the anthem. But I agree with his end point, that there is systematic discrimination against black people in this country, and I also applaud him for putting a lot on the line with this. He’s potentially giving up money and respect during a pivotal time in his career. Not many other people, athletes or otherwise, can say they have done that.

Give me a principled protest over apathetic participation anyday. During my time as an official sports writer, I saw a number of people who lazily stood up for the national anthem before a game. There were plenty of people who whispered to one another while the canned recording played, or made silly faces. I always try to think of my cousin Philip, who was killed in Iraq in 2004, during the time the anthem played, but I’ll admit that my mind often wandered as well. While you may disagree with Kaepernick’s actions, you can’t say he doesn’t have his reasons. Look at the transcript from his recent press conference. It contains some of the most thoughtful answers I’ve seen a pro athlete give to reporters.

My problem with people criticizing Kaepernick’s actions is that they probably don’t realize how often they, either knowingly or unknowingly, insult many things. To the neighbors who leave their flag out in the dark, you’re doing it wrong. To those who don’t vote, you’re disregarding a right that people really did fight for. To those who say “support the troops”, yet spend their Memorial Days without a thought in memoriam of those who died serving our country, you’re missing the point.

Also, this “controversy” seems so f’ing stupid compared to an actual constitutional crisis going on in Louisiana. The sixth amendment rights of thousands of incarcerated people are literally being trampled on because the state can’t fund public defenders. People have a constitutional right to counsel, yet it doesn’t get the national uproar a sitting down football player does.

Now I get that this is a big deal because Kapernick plays in the NFL for a popular team, and plays at the most visible position, quarterback. Yet, it still seems like people are missing the point. What do people want from him? How will someone standing change anything about a person’s view on things? I’m guessing most of the people upset about this don’t even care about the 49ers.

Also, if you think that Kaepernick is “too rich to protest” or doesn’t deserve a voice because he’s rich, please make sure you tell that to the Koch brothers.

What makes America great is that we can have these differing opinions. You can protest injustice while playing football. You can still support the troops, but still not take part in symbolic patriotism that you think is B.S. You can speak your mind. All of that is what makes America great, people seem to forget that.

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