The Kaepernick Mess
This kind of event really brings out the stupid in people.
The much commented-upon behavior of San Francisco 49ers back-up quarterback Colin Kaepernick, which involved him showing contempt for the nation anthem – and, thus, America itself – by intentionally remaining seated during the playing of the anthem prior to a recent exhibition game, has had at least one salutary effect: it has clarified the utter vacuity of a lot of people’s thinking when it comes to protest, patriotism and bravery.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, CK has decided to refrain from showing the traditional respect to two beloved symbols of the United States – the national anthem and the Flag – by remaining seated during the playing of the anthem prior to games. He has indicated that he will continue to do so until he sees “progress” in what he considers to be the injustices afflicting Black Americans.
To publicly pronounce that "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for [our] country” is an act of both self-negation and self-indulgence.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media. "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."
Obviously, his action has created significant controversy both within the NFL and in the country as a whole. But the most appalling aspect of the reaction has been the utter stupidity of some of the arguments in his support, the most common being the old chestnut that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”
A good manifestation of this argument comes from a man I deeply respect, former NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Abdul-Jabbar, writing in the Washington Post, stated that “One of the ironies of the way some people express their patriotism is to brag about our freedoms, especially freedom of speech, but then brand as unpatriotic those who exercise this freedom to express dissatisfaction with the government’s record in upholding the Constitution.”
He goes on to highlight, with clear admiration, the flag-burning of the 60’s and 70’s, citing it as a pure example of patriotic dissent against the policies of the government and, presumably, US society as a whole.
Sorry, Kareem, but this is nonsense squared.