#7, above, is Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers during the playing of the National Anthem prior to its exhibition game vs the San Diego Chargers on Sept. 1, 2012.
Note he is kneeling and does not have his hand over his heart as all the civilians around him seem to be doing. This was also his appearance during the National Anthem at the three previous exhibition games on August 26, August 20, and Augiust 14. No complaints were registered until after the August 26 game.
But, oh, how those complaints have come in.
Kaepernick, in one interview, explained his rationale
I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color… To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder
One objection to Kaepernick took this form:
Martin Halloran, the San Francisco Police Officers Association president, sent a letter Monday to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and 49ers CEO Jed York denouncing Kaepernick’s “ill-advised” statements and a “naivete” and “total lack of sensitivity” toward police, along with an “incredible lack of knowledge” about officer-involved shootings.
The police union invited Kaepernick or anyone else from the league to visit the San Francisco police academy to build communication and understanding about the profession.
“I only wish Mr. Kaepernick could see the emotional and psychological challenges that our officers face following a fatal encounter,” Halloran wrote. “Some are so affected they never return to the streets. In short, Mr. Kaepernick has embarrassed himself, the 49er organization, and the NFL based on a false narrative and misinformation that lacks any factual basis.”
There are several problems with that narrative, not the least of which is that Kaepernick did not reference the San Francisco Police for misbehavior, but he well could have. The S.F.P.D. has been involved in 95 officer involved shootings in the past 15 years with 40 deaths. 18 of those shot had only knives on them and 11 were not armed at all. And since there were multiple officers with more than one shooting I’d say the emotional trauma of shooting a civilian must not be that great since there are repeat offenders and other officers do not seem to learn from the mistakes of their brethren. So spare me the sob story.
Too, Kaepernick is not the one embarrassing himself, nor should he be embarrassed but Halloran should be utterly ashamed of himself. As to “a false narrative and misinformation that lacks any factual basis.” Halloran must be playing see no evil and hear no evil all by his lonesome but he forgot the speak no evil part—because his accusation that Kaepernick operates from a false narrative and nonfactual information is so obviously itself a lie.
But one phenomenon is quite apparent in the criticism. The quarterback is accused of demeaning America and denying its greatness. But so so many of the people voicing that criticism are preparing to vote for a large incandescent yam whose very campaign slogan tells Americans their country is not great.
As an interesting aside and a corollary to the Kaepernick story, read this tale by a reporter who once protested in favor of the National Anthem by sitting down for it. Same action, different rationale.
Another curious twist is that part of Kaepernick’s position is in total alliance with BlackLivesMatter. Protests and demonstrations have come to many cities across the country. Most have been extraordinarily peaceful but on the uncommon occasions with some violence the cry has been heard, “Hey, you black folks! You can protest better by sitting down and shutting up” So a black man decides to protest by sitting down and shutting up and that still is not good enough.
Colin Kaepernick is in excellent company.
Rosa Parks stood up against segregated buses while sitting down and her action has been immortalized as a linchpin of the Civil Rights Movement.
Ezell Blair, Jr. Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, and David Richmond stood up against discrimination in public accommodations by sitting down on four stools at a Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth’s lunch counter.
In 1776 fifty-six men stood up against the tyranny of King Goerge III by sitting down to debate and adopt the Declaration Of Independence.
Will Kaepernick’s protest eventually carry the same import? Probably not but it is very much in the spirit of the aforesaid protests.
Colin, in my apartment I have a very comfy La-Z-Boy recliner. Stop over to watch some games, any games, and feel free to fully enjoy the recliner during the National Anthem. You’ll hear not one peep out of me if you fail to stand.