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Kaepernick’s Offense Is Not Lack of Patriotism, But Ignorance

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Ending the interminably long silence in our national discussion of racial issues (insert tongue firmly in cheek here), none other than the San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick, the 2nd or 3rd string quarterback behind Blaine Gabbert (who?…exactly!) has reignited the racial firestorm. After his refusal to stand for the national anthem during a recent game, Kaepernick defended his position by saying he is “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color…There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Boy, oh boy.

Kaepernick’s comments have stoked fierce responses from all points of the ideological spectrum, from those excoriating him as an ungrateful brat, to those arguing that his actions are themselves a form of patriotism. Those who are outraged at his comments are outraged for understandable reasons; they feel his actions and comments are an insult to the millions of Americans who have served in our military and fought and died to defend the freedoms he enjoys; they are outraged by his claims of oppression (he never knew his black father and was given up by his white mother at six weeks, to a white couple who, by all accounts, gave him nothing but love and support on his journey to becoming an NFL quarterback making $19 million a year while riding the bench); and they are outraged at his distorted view of America.

On the flip side, his supporters slam his critics, claiming they are trying to deny him his right to free speech, which is simply not true. They claim that he is the true patriot for speaking out against oppression, and they are patriots for defending him against his critics. But the reality is that no one is trying to impede his right to speak; however, the rest of us have free speech rights too, which means we can tell him what an ignorant jackass he is.

Let’s examine Kaepernick’s claims. He says that America is a country that “oppresses black people and people of color”. This is a mixed bag. On the one hand, blacks in America, even blacks in the inner city and on welfare, enjoy a standard of living higher than most of the rest of the world. According to a recent study, the vast majority of “poor” Americans have a TV, a DVD player, at least one cell phone, a computer, a car, air conditioning, and more living space than the average European (not the average poor European, but the average European). On the other hand, blacks in America (at least those in the inner city) suffer deeply from being denied the educational choice which would put them on the path to prosperity; they suffer from unbelievably high rates of unwed pregnancy (a prime predictor of generational poverty), and they suffer from high crime rates without being able to defend themselves. On the other hand (I know, that is three hands…work with me here), blacks vote overwhelmingly for the very Democrat Party that has long inflicted upon them the policies which has brought them so much suffering.

Kaepernick also referred to “bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Presumably, since he mentioned paid leave, he is not referring to the drug dealers and gang bangers and common street thugs who are responsible for the thousands of black deaths in Obama’s hometown of Chicago since 2009, with the perpetrator of the crimes almost always being black.

One can only assume, then, that this is a reference to the Black Lives Matter movement, which is based on the fraudulent idea that innocent black men are dying in droves at the hands of racist white police. The problem with that is that, with few exceptions, the most notorious cases of the last few years involved not innocent black men, but career criminals who died while attacking cops or resisting arrest (in both the Freddy Gray and Eric Garner cases, autopsies revealed they died as a result of health complications or self-inflicted injuries during arrest). This isn’t cops getting away with murder; this is criminals who suffer the consequences of their actions.

Kaepernick’s supporters are equally as ignorant.

Patrick Tomlinson of The Hill wrote, “In a month when black demonstrators were told ‘violence is never justified,’ and blacks marching peacefully were told to ‘stop impeding traffic,’ we now have a black man who literally took no action at all by choosing to remain seated…Apparently, there is no appropriate way for blacks to voice their concerns.” Apparently, Tomlinson things that setting neighborhoods on fire, looting and vandalizing, dragging innocent white motorists from their vehicles and beating them, and shutting down traffic are all legitimate ways for blacks to have their voices heard.

NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabar (born Lew Alcindor before converting to Islam and changing his name) said Kaepernick “behaved in a highly patriotic manner that should make all Americans proud”. He further stated that “what’s really un-American” is that “50 years after Ali was banned for boxing…we still need to call attention to the same racial inequalities.” Apparently the irony of a rich black athlete making these claims – in a land where a black man is president, with a black attorney general, and where there is institutional racial discrimination against whites in favor of minorities – was lost on him.

He’s not alone though in the black community, or the Hollywood glitterati, and not even the worst offender of our intelligence.

The most offensive thing about Kaepernick’s rant was that it vilifies our nation while ignoring its virtues. Yes, America once allowed slavery (thanks, Democrats!), but we also tried to eradicate it in the original Constitution, and eventually ended the practice after fighting the bloodiest war in our history. Even today, though we are not a perfect nation, is there any other nation, as Trump asked rhetorically in his typically ham-fisted way, which would work better for him? That would give so many opportunities to prosper? Interestingly, Kaepernick also teed off on Hillary and her crimes, saying anyone else would be in prison.

Kaepernick would do well to study the life and works of Frederick Douglass, a freed slave who was a fierce voice in the fight for abolition and racial equality. HERE was a man who understood oppression, yet he loved this country, and urged other blacks to fight for it. He used to play the “Star-Spangled Banner” on the violin for his grandchildren in the years following the War Between the States, and in an 1871 speech at Arlington National Cemetery, he proclaimed that “if the star-spangled banner floats only over free American citizens in every quarter of the land, and our country has before it a long and glorious career of justice, liberty, and civilization, we are indebted to the unselfish devotion of the noble army.”

Douglass understood that our nation was, and still is, made up of imperfect people. Yet hundreds of thousands of men and women have shed their blood in the defense of this nation and the ideals it embodies, however imperfectly lived. They died for this land of freedom, based on the idea that “all men are created equal”. They died not because we are a sinless, perfect nation, but because this is the only nation in history formed under these ideals, and which has striven mightily to weave them into our national character, even at the cost of the blood of our sons and daughters.

And that, Colin, is why we stand for our national anthem.


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