Colin Kaepernick is… not necessarily unpatriotic

You’ve no doubt seen the deadlines lately. Long story short Colin Kaepernick didn’t stand up during the National Anthem because reasons and now everyone is in a big stink over it. I say reasons instead of actually providing a description because I don’t want to misrepresent what it is CK is protesting or oversimplify his thoughts on the issue. I’m not too big on the whole BLM thing so I would probably do it a disservice, but if I had to sum it up, he’s protesting police brutality and systemic oppression of black people in America.

People are calling him unpatriotic, and calling for him to be kicked off the team, and demanding things from the NFL, and the laundry list of usual demands that Americans of all stripes are quick to shout out over every single perceived slight.

People got mad when that crazy BLM supporter killed a bunch of police officers, and rightfully so. It was horrible.

People get mad when BLM supporters riot in the streets and burn shit down and vandalize communities because it’s idiotic and destructive.

People get mad when BLM supporters shut down a free way to make a point like they did on the 15 freeway in San Diego just a few weeks ago.

But Kaepernick didn’t do any of this. He didn’t kill anyone, didn’t injure anyone, didn’t destroy any property, and didn’t inconvenience anyone. He didn’t stand on a flag, burn a flag, defile a flag. He didn’t even hang one upside down. All he did was… well, nothing. He’s getting flak for not doing something. All the stupid shit BLM and cohorts have done in the past year or so that pisses everyone off – Kaepernick didn’t do.

So I honestly feel like this is people grasping at straws, trying to make something out of nothing. Anyone that knows me knows I’m not on the BLM bandwagon, but let’s be real here. This fervor over Kaepernick is about frustration over not being able to silence dissenting opinions and actions.

It’s easy to dismiss BLM and it’s supporters when they do stupid shit like the burn down buildings. But it’s much harder to brush it aside when they aren’t being unruly. It’s as if people thought that the only way BLM could possibly get attention to their cause was to act like idiots, and now someone comes along and doesn’t do anything illegal or violent and still manages to draw attention to the issue on a national level. Touché. Kaepernick scored a hit and there really isn’t anything to be said about it. Nothing legitimate anyway.

In the absence of any complaints of merit, Colin’s critics have gone with the low blow insult of being unpatriotic. The left has their own list of low blow, cry wolf insults like accusing someone of being racist, or homophobic, or a bigot, or xenophobic. I’ve heard it all, been called it all. And the right has just dusted off their nuclear insult, the brand of being unpatriotic. Easy to hurl, hard to catch, it’s the perfect weapon of choice as a last ditch effort when all else has failed.

The objective of such an insult isn’t to get Kaepernick to find a more constructive way of expressing his opinions. At this point, it’s intended to just shut him up. The proof is in the pudding. He’s a quarterback for an NFL team, so now people are demanding he be fired so that they can take away his podium to silence him on an issue they hope to sweep under the rug quietly.

To many, the National Anthem, or the American Flag are symbols of America. But before we get mad about this, lets stop and thing about what these things really symbolize, and what Colin is protesting.

I won’t go all philosophical on you. I’ll go literal on you. America isn’t just one thing. America is a million things. American is the country. America is the people. America is the land. America is the government. America is our senators and congressmen. America is our president. America is the constitution. America is our military. America is our tax payers. America is our culture. And America is our systems. See what I mean?

I love our troops, I love our police and firefighters, but I sure don’t have many nice words for the people on Capitol Hill.

I love our constitution, but I don’t have an IRS flag waving in my front yard.

When you look at it from a different angle, it’s easy to see how you can love this country so much, but also be fed up by certain parts of it.

Anyone who says that Colin Kaepernick was disrespecting the armed services is being disingenuous because you know for fact that’s not what he meant. He has a very specific grievance against once aspect of this great country and he protested in the most polite, effective way he could think to do. I don’t advocate for BLM but if anyone can name even one way he could have expressed his feelings as effectively that wouldn’t have pissed everyone and their mom off, I would honestly be interested in hearing it. I mean really. What would you have the guy do? Something entirely useless like change his Facebook profile picture and share an angry post? Write a blog? Tweet something?

My dad served in the military for 20 years. Three of my grandpas served in the military and fought in several wars. I have an uncle in the Border Patrol. I have countless friends, and childhood mentors who were in the service. If I honestly thought that what Kaepernick did was an offense to those loved ones of mine, I wouldn’t be defending him. But here I am.

I’m not gonna offer up some moral equivalency argument “well if you think that’s unpatriotic, then you should be even more upset about the blah blah blah statistic from wikipedia blah blah”. Because again, I don’t entirely see eye to eye with Kaepernick on the issue he’s protesting, so I’m not defending his position of protest, just defending the way he’s protesting.

Let me share with you a true story. A couple years ago I was driving through my neighborhood as part of my then regular route, and I saw an American flag waving from a flag pole… upside down. I thought it was weird and it certainly caught my attention. I drove by the house again the next day, and the flag was still upside down. Day after day I drive past this house and each day, the flag is upside down. But at night, the flag is taken down and the pole sits idle and bare.

Finally after about a week, I was curious so rather than drive past the house, this time I drove to it. I parked my car and walked up the driveway towards the front door of a very pretty house in this nice, serine suburban neighborhood.  A car was parked in the driveway with a Marine Corp sticker on the back window. Odd. I knock on the door and sure enough someone answers. The door slowly opens to reveal a senior freakin’ citizen. Not the 22 year old, zulu plug adorned college kid with a Che Guevara t-shirt I would have suspected. No, it was some 70 year old white guy in khakis and a tucked in polo shirt. I ask the guy what’s up with the flag and if he knew that it was upside down. He explains that he was unhappy with the direction the country was going in, and had turned the flag upside down as a sign of protest. He told me about having served in the Marines, and we chatted for about 10 minutes about politics and things we’d heard about on the news. Hmm. Here was this old, white, conservative, veteran, male hanging the flag upside down in a conservative neighborhood as a sign of distress for the condition of our country. Who would have thought? I thanked him for his time, (naturally handed him a business card,) and went on about my way and that was that.

It never once occurred to me this man was unpatriotic or hated America or was disrespecting the police or our armed forces. And I don’t see how what Colin Kaepernick did the other day was any different.

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3 thoughts on “Colin Kaepernick is… not necessarily unpatriotic”

  1. You have an interesting take on this matter, and I can understand that this may have been more of a protest against our government, of which, by the way I have nothing positive to say either. I think what the majority of Americans are fed up with is this whole BLM movement and all the talk of suppression. I have many black friends and they are all educated and I never have heard any of them speak of suppression. I believe that the ones that complain of suppression have chose, or learned over decades to do as little as possible and wait for a “handout” hard working, educated Americans, be it all races, not just white people are tired of the crap. Never in all my years have I seen racism as I do today. In my opinion, these people that go out and protest need to get a job and contribute to society…as far as sports figures getting paid millions to play a sport that they love, they are hardly suppressed and perhaps should take a step back and use some common sense before doing something that could potentially offend so many.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am no fan of the black lives matter movement either. I think everyone including blacks have it much better off in this country than they would anywhere else in the world.

      As far as rich athletes and celebrities, I agree with you 90%. I don’t think that Colin is saying that he has been suppressed. I think he’s using his national podium to bring attention to an issue that affects people that aren’t as fortunate as him. Does that make sense?

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      1. Of course this makes sense, but we live in a country with opportunities that I don’t believe any other country has. The sky is the limit, and anyone that has the dream and the desire to make a better life can do so. I believe many people that claim “suppression” are simply too lazy, they would rather take a “handout” than better themselves. I am Caucasian and my husband is Hispanic. Although my husband is a second generation, his grandparents came here with the dream of a better life and they worked their tails off until the day they died, and they never had one bad thing to say about the U.S.

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