San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made waves this weekend by his conspicuous refusal to stand for the national anthem at the beginning of the Niners' preseason game Friday night against the Green Bay Packers.
His reason? "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color." He insists he will continue to disrespect the flag and this country until there is "significant change."
This is exceedingly ungrateful at best and absurd at worst. Here's a man of mixed race living in a country that has made him a household name and put $120 million in his wallet.
We can all stipulate that the U.S. has had a problematic past when it comes to race, beginning with its flatly unbiblical embrace of African slavery in 1619. (The kind of slavery practiced in the United States was a death penalty crime in the Bible, according to Exodus 21:16. If the Bible had been followed, slavery never would have gained the slightest foothold in America.)
But this is also a country which abolished slavery, Jim Crow laws, racial segregation and has twice elected a black man to the highest office in the land. The reigning NFL MVP is a black man, as is the reigning NBA MVP, and America made Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods some of the richest athletes in history. In other words, America, while not perfect, is a nation to be proud of.
Kaepernick speaks as if these things never happened, as if we are still living in the antebellum South. Kaepernick himself is living proof that whatever the United States used to be, today it is a land of opportunity to people of any race who work hard and develop their talents.
Yesterday, Kaepernick talked repeatedly about "police brutality." This means one thing: The low-information media shares some of the blame for this mess. Again, we can stipulate that there have certainly been examples of police misconduct. But time and time again, we discover the media sensationalizes violent confrontations between cops and blacks, with the initial suspicion and blame being placed on law enforcement.
When the facts emerge, law enforcement, far more often than not, has been exonerated. But the media is not interested in the truth if it justifies police behavior, and so low-information consumers of news, like Kaepernick, never find out about it. Kaepernick is apparently unaware, for instance, that the "hands up, don't shoot" narrative in Ferguson, MIssouri, never happened. It was all a lie.
He is apparently unaware that the Baltimore cops who were charged with Freddie Gray's death have all been exonerated, with a black judge acquitting each cop who was put on trial in his court.
He is apparently unaware that cops are 18.5 times more likely to be shot by a black man than an unarmed black man is to be shot by a cop. He is apparently unaware that cops are actually much more hesitant to pull the trigger when the suspect is black than when he is white.
But the media is only interested in news if it can be sensationalized against those who have a sworn duty to protect and to serve. They lose interest instantly if the truth doesn't fit that narrative. And uninformed individuals like Kaepernick are duped by their lies and selective misconstructions.
There is also some evidence that Kaepernick has turned away from Christianity and embraced Islam. He has an Islamic girlfriend, and has sent Ramadan greetings out on his social media accounts. Islam is virulently anti-American, as exemplified by the rhetoric and behavior of the Nation of Islam. It's entirely possible that Kaepernick's mind and heart have been poisoned by the dark energy coming from Islam and the anti-police Black Lives Matter movement.
At any rate, this is a sad development. I have always been a Kaepernick fan, and have been pulling for him to make a comeback and become the happy, carefree superstar quarterback he was when he rocketed to fame in 2013. Instead, he seems to have become sullen and angry. It's a shame.
The playing of the national anthem before athletic contests is a powerful unifying force in American culture. Players of both teams and fans of both teams stand together, hands over hearts, to honor the nation we all love. All that now has been placed at risk.
We'll have to wait and see if other NFL athletes join Kaepernick in his divisive crusade against America and its flag. He could single-handedly make the national anthem a source of racial division rather than a source of unity. We may see boycotts of the national anthem not only in the NFL but in the NBA and major league baseball. We may see boycotts of the anthem at the college and even the high school level.
Here's hoping that cooler, wiser and more informed heads will prevail, so that we can continue as one nation to celebrate that America truly is the "land of the free and the home of the brave."
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