Perhaps you’ve seen this picture floating around social media. Now that the NFL season has started again, Mr. Kaepernick is making news. I read one post that he was a “piece of shit and shouldn’t be allowed to play in the NFL”. That bothered me some. As I am not a fan of the NFL (stopped watching years ago), I wondered why he shouldn’t be allowed to play. Is he a bad player? I don’t know. I figure the only reason a person shouldn’t be able to be in the NFL (or any other job for that matter) is if they can’t perform the duties of that job. I know I don’t belong in the NFL. At 5’10”, 210 pounds (mostly beer belly), I would curl up in a fetal position if I had a 300 pound lineman running at me.
But if the sentiment is he shouldn’t be allowed to play because he does not stand during the national anthem, then I most heartily disagree. As I said on the Facebook post I got the image from, nobody died for his “right” to stand. All through school we were told to stand for the pledge of allegiance, and the anthem. We were not given a choice. That’s not a right, that’s an obligation, a requirement if you will.
I agree with the two soldiers in lower right side, men and women died for his right to protest. If his chosen protest is to sit or kneel during the anthem, HE HAS THAT RIGHT! I am a retired Army veteran. I dedicated 20 years of my life so that all Americans have the right to speak their mind, no matter how much you agree or disagree with them. Non-violent protest is an accepted form of self-expression in this country. So much that’s it’s baked into our Constitution, to paraphrase the first amendment;
“Prohibits Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.” (source: Wikipedia)
It is well within Mr. Kaepernick’s First Amendment Right of Free Speech to take a knee. If I was on the bench with him I would be sitting or kneeling right with him.
After all what is he protesting? Only the discrimination and abuse that people of color (I would include Indigenous People as well, even if he doesn’t) have suffered at the hands of the white powers for centuries. The colonization of America has been nothing short of either long-term slavery for the black people or near genocide for native Americans.
As a white male, I know I have had “white privilege” all my life. I drove for 14 years on an expired driver’s license. Luckily I was only stopped three times, once the officer didn’t even check my license, once he told me to have someone else drive and once I had to pay a $75 ticket. If I had been a person of color, or an immigrant, I’m sure I would have been in handcuffs all three times.
And just in case you’re wondering, the folks who are yelling at Mr. Kaepernick and calling him names have that right too. It goes both ways. I may not agree with it, but I support your right to voice your opinion. Peacefully. Once you throw violence in the mix, I believe you lose that right.
But what do I know?
Image source: The Other 98% Facebook page.