Colin Kaepernick and I have never met, although we have some things in common. He is an NFL quarterback and I am an NFL unsigned free agent. We share many of the same physical attributes. (See post entitled Quarterback Material). If I meet him at an NFL activity, such as a game or NFL Player Association meeting or party, I would probably like him.
Watching him sit during the national anthem, I don’t like him so much. It seems disrespectful. Actually, he himself says it is intended to be disrespectful. He says:
“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.”
He has the right to say whatever he wants, of course. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech.
We Americans have other amendments in our Constitution too. The Fourteenth Amendment says:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
I, like most of you, am opposed to oppression and racial prejudice, and unfairness of any kind. It appears that the authors of the Constitution and Bill of Rights were opposed to the same things to which Colin is opposed. Not all the same things, of course. As far as I know, they were not ashamed of our flag. We probably did not have a national anthem yet.
I, like Colin, and all of you other Americans, have the right to freedom of speech. That includes the right for me to say I don’t agree with Colin’s symbolic speech by him sitting during the national anthem. I don’t agree with disrespecting our flag.
I think his sitting does not make his message clear. Many football fans who see him refusing to honor the flag have not read his words of explanation. I have read those words and still do not understand. He himself does not seem too oppressed. He could do more to improve our nation by positive example than simply pointing out the obvious that racism still exists, despite such progress as the election of a mixed race President, who has appointed two black Attorneys General. There is racism even in Denver, where we have a black mayor and a black chief of police. My point is that, despite progress in fighting institutional racism by changing laws to ban discrimination, there are people who are still prejudiced. Ironically, Colin is one of them, apparently, because he has judged from afar whether cases in which he did not participate are being handled under due process of law. Colorblind law.
Colin seems to be saying that Black people have been killed by police who, in his opinion, should not get paid leave during an investigation because he already knows somehow that the police were not justified in using deadly force. Maybe he doesn’t want the police to get due process of law per the 14th amendment. Maybe he wants to be the one to decide from afar, without participating in the legal process.
Colin’s example of sitting has nevertheless influenced me to emulate him. My wife has requested that I mow the lawn. I mean no disrespect towards her, but it does not seem right for me to blissfully mow the grass when there is crime in our nation. Sure, we have passed laws against crime, but people still commit crimes. Until there is no crime, I refuse to mow. Oh, and until there is world peace too. I will make the world a better place by sitting. It would be selfish on my part to mow during these troubled times.
Would someone please explain my constitutional rights to my wife?