Late last week San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick decided that he could no longer stand up at attention when “The Star Spangled Banner” was played at games. This is because, he said, the U.S. is evil and filled with racists. Only hours passed before millions of fans let Kaepernick and the 49ers know just what they thought of his anti-American statement.
The player’s recalcitrance was at first ignored by both the national media as well as the national sports media. As Breitbart News reported, immediately after the game no one in the sports media asked Kaepernick nor coach Chip Kelly why the player was not standing during the playing of the anthem.
But not long after the post game media was over, fans showed they noticed what he did as the game began and tongues on social media users began to wag. The pressure mounted quickly and likely expecting to be congratulated for his “bravery,” Kaepernick soon explained why he did what he did.
“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 explained to NFL.com. “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.”
What ever Kaepernick thought the reaction should be to his actions, it seems the management of the 49ers understood a public relations mess was brewing. Immediately after the game the team quickly issued a public statement about the incident.
“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”
With this the team tried to have it both ways. By defending the anthem and celebrating its patriotism yet fully supporting Kaepernick’s right to be hateful of it, the team thought it had covered all the bases.
Of course, 49ers management is certainly right. The Constitution itself maintains that each of us have a right to our opinion and all of use are guaranteed our freedom of speech. But few Americans question that right. And, in fact, every Kaepernick detractor has the exact same right to criticize him for attacking the National Anthem and to decide they don’t want to patronize the San Francisco 49ers because of it.
The fact is, those who despise what Kaepernick did also have the right to burn his jersey, apparently, and a trend quickly began on social media showing disgruntled fans doing just that.
One enraged fan who seems to have started the jersey burning trend was Louisiana resident Shane White who posted a video to his Facebook page slamming the player and then burning his jersey to the tune of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Jersey-burning fans weren’t the only ones showing their anti-Kaepernick sentiment. Other upset fans took to their social media to make suggestions about what the player could do with himself.
The The Daily Mail, for instance, noted that one fan advised the player to move to Canada while others were more colorful with their suggestions.
One of the best retorts to Kapernick’s anti-American sentiment was posted to Twitter by Nick Short who added a photo of Marine Sgt. Zachary Stinson of Pennsylvania. Along with the image, Short added a caption reading, “Kaepernick refusing to stand for natl anthem is his right. Here’s a Marine, who can’t stand, because he defended it.” The photo shows Sgt. Stinson lifting himself out of his wheel chair as the National Anthem plays. You see, as it happens Stinson lost both of his legs above the knee in an IED attack in Afghanistan in 2010 and he is no longer able to stand for the anthem.
Kaepernick refusing to stand for natl anthem is his right. Here's a Marine, who can't stand, because he defended it pic.twitter.com/mLjTUPQ2pm
— Nick Short 🇺🇸 (@PoliticalShort) August 27, 2016
This is all rather interesting for the fact that Colin Kaepernick, born of mixed race parents who abandoned him, was adopted by a white family and given all the advantages a child could be given. Even as he claims that America is so racist that minorities can’t get ahead, he nevertheless seems to have done quite well for himself.
His quixotic behavior is writ large across his own Twitter feed. Despite his privileged upbringing, if one looks at Kaepernick’s Twitter account one is confronted with post after anti-American post filled with race-baiting and support for Black Lives Matter. Further, looking at his social media photos with the way he dresses it seems he is a young man who fancies himself a gang banger of sorts.
Whatever demons are driving him, Kaepernick’s fans are not pleased, to say the least, but the national sports media apparently don’t take their marching orders from the fans. The sports press did belatedly begin to cover Kaepernick’s anti-American sentiment after the firestorm had ratcheted into high speed. But almost to a man the opinionists of the sports press showered Kaepernick with high praise, agreed with him that the U.S. is racist, and patted him on the back for his “bravery.”
One imagines none of them asked Sgt. Stinson about what real bravery is all about.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time recently that a bi-racial entertainer went to extremes seemingly because he is guilty over his privileged lifestyle.
In yet another case, bi-racial actor Jesse Williams uncorked a rant to end all rants on Black Entertainment Television in June. Instead of delivering an acceptance speech for the award he was given that night, Williams jumped into a controversial harangue in which he characterized this country as unalterably unfair to blacks and insisted all white people as permanently racist — including, presumably, his own, white mother.