It’s been almost three weeks since San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat out the National Anthem on August 26, and it’s still dominating the news.
Kaepernick has recently been joined by multiple players in the NFL, as well as other athletes, including soccer player Megan Rapinoe. Now, however, players are kneeling in order to indicate their support for the men and women in the military, while still protesting the anthem.
After the August 26 game, Kaepernick told the press:
“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.”
Kaepernick was seemingly referring to high-profile incidents in which black men and women have been killed by police officers.
He clarified his intent Monday, saying:
“For me, it was something that I couldn’t see another ‘hashtag Sandra Bland, hashtag Tamir Rice, hashtag Walter Scott, hashtag Eric Garner,’ the list goes on and on and on,’ At what point do we do something about it? At what point do we take a stand and as a people say this isn’t right?
You have a badge, yes. You’re supposed to be protecting us, not murdering us, and that’s what the issue really is and we need to change that.”
Colin Kaepernick is basing his protest on a small number of cases in which African Americans have been killed by police under peculiar circumstances. As I’ve written about extensively in prior pieces, the statistics Kaepernick is parroting have been shown to be, at best, incredibly overblown, and at worst, patently false.
You can read my analysis of the deceptive Black Lives Matter talking points here.
Kaepernick also referenced social media in his statement. While social media has indeed helped spread awareness of certain issues that otherwise wouldn’t be talked about, it also serves to promulgate already specious arguments.
Despite Colin Kaepernick relying on patent falsities and exaggerated statistics to promote his cause, he does have the right to protest the National Anthem. In turn, I have the right to call him on his bull****.
However, setting aside all the debate regarding the merit of Kaepernick’s protest, I think one critical question needs to be answered. Why should we care?
A multi-millionaire athlete whose sport many of us enjoy watching has decided to take a knee during the National Anthem instead of stand respectfully with his hand over his heart–and I don’t care. You shouldn’t either. By getting up in arms over his protest, we’re just giving his propaganda oxygen. It does none of us any good to get all huffy over Kaepernick.
The irony isn’t lost on me that I’m writing about Colin Kaepernick while saying we should ignore him. However, I haven’t mentioned him until this point, and unless assigned otherwise, I won’t write about him again.
We are the inheritors of a system of government unlike any before it. Does it have flaws? Certainly. As human beings, we are imperfect. Moreover, there will always be those who exploit our nature as flawed beings to put forth spurious arguments. We can choose to expose those arguments to the disinfectant of facts and reason, but we shouldn’t give them more attention than they deserve.
Just as our brilliantly engineered republic doesn’t need to be justified by Colin Kaepernick, his silly actions don’t diminish it in any way either. It’s just a distraction.