Kaepernick: Is his protest justified?
Somewhere, Muhammad Ali is smiling,” said Jarrett Bell in USAToday.com. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last week “made a courageous social statement” when he refused to stand for the national anthem before a preseason game, protesting recent police slayings of unarmed African-Americans and systemic institutional racism. “There are bodies in the street and [cops] getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” Kaepernick declared. The biracial quarterback is now facing blistering criticism for his civil rights stand—just like Ali, the once reviled and ultimately revered heavyweight champ who risked his freedom and his career to defy the Vietnam-era draft. Donald Trump suggested Kaepernick “find a country that works better for him;” fans are burning his jersey and accusing him of disrespecting millions of troops who have sacrificed life and limb for the flag. But those men and women fought for the values that flag represents—like equality, and the right to criticize authority.
“Kaepernick has reminded us of that.” “Kaepernick is an idiot,” said Clay Travis in RealClearSports.com. He says he can’t show pride in “a country that oppresses black people,” but where’s the proof that a government led by a black president— with a black woman serving as attorney general— is racist and unjust? Certainly Kaepernick’s personal story doesn’t support his dystopian view of a country that systematically oppresses black people. As an abandoned biracial child, he was adopted and lovingly raised by white parents. Then his football talents got him a free college education, and at 28 he makes $19 million a year as a backup quarterback. “If that’s governmental oppression, sign me up.”
Actually, Kaepernick is right: Racial injustice is a pervasive problem, said Al Saracevic in the San Francisco Chronicle. The statistics about housing discrimination, brutal arrests, and unjustified police shootings “don’t lie. Nor do the videos.” But he’s fighting the good fight with “the wrong weapons.” Sending out simplistic tweets—in one, Kaepernick likened the American flag to the Confederate flag—and sitting during the national anthem will do nothing except invite scorn. Yes, Kaepernick “started a national conversation,” said Dylan Hernandez in the Los Angeles Times, but “the conversation feels as if it is headed nowhere.” We’re not talking about the divisions in society Kaepernick wants addressed. “We’re talking about whether someone should stand.”