August 31, 2016 by Chris Kite
I’m tired of the so called flag waving patriots that think their idea of patriotism must be shared by everyone in this country. I believe their patriotism to be a false patriotism. Many of them will stand up and shout that burning the flag, disrespecting the national anthem, or the office of the President, or many other things are un-American and should be punished. But when they feel strongly about something, say that our country is no longer great, they have no problem saying horrible things about the United States or the President.
Our Constitution guarantees us freedom of speech as well as freedom of expression. That means that some things you say may offend other people. While other people may not agree with you, nothing can take away your right to speak your mind or express yourself. Everyone is entitled to that free speech. They aren’t guaranteed a platform, but they are guaranteed the ability to say what they want without the government stepping in to stop them.
If your idea of speaking your mind and expressing yourself is to not stand during the national anthem, or to burn a flag, or any of the other forms of protest that so many right wing “patriots” find offensive, then have at it. Sure. There could be consequences. Because while we have a right to free speech and expression, it doesn’t mean that others can’t speak out against you for your actions. Or that you can’t lose contracts when you are in the public eye.
When Colin Kaepernick sat during the national anthem, he understood exactly what he was doing. He also understood that there could be ramifications. My personal opinion is that he is very brave for what he did. While not at the same level, it shows some similarities to Mohammed Ali refusing to be conscripted. At the time, Ali said, “Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”
Kaepernick isn’t at risk of being sent to war, but he does see an injustice in our legal and economic system. He explained, “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.”
Blacks are shot by police at a higher rate than whites. Blacks have higher prosecution and conviction rates. And blacks get longer sentences when they are found guilty. When blacks are shot, police are less likely to be disciplined or even investigated. Despite having a black President, blacks are still routinely discriminated against our country and little is done to stop it.
Sure, there are laws to protect them against discrimination, but many are ineffective and there are ways around it. Studies have shown that when people apply for jobs and use “black sounding” names, they are much less likely to get a chance at the job.
White conservatives love to tell us there is no discrimination or systematic racism in our country and that everyone is equal. It’s a nice thought, but not at all accurate. They need to open their eyes and look around!
Personally, I would never try to tell someone else in a different situation that they are not being discriminated against because as a white male, I have not had the same life experiences. I’ve not had people judge me harshly because of the color of my skin. I’ve not had people cross the street to avoid me, refuse to consider me for a job, assume I’m a criminal, or any of the many other injustices they see every day.
The fact is, Colin Kaepernick is standing up for those that may not be able to stand up for themselves. As a person of color in a leadership role, and a celebrity, and in a high paying sport, he is in an excellent position to bring attention to what he and many of us see as injustices.
In our country, we have a Constitution. It protects exactly the type of thing Kaepernick did. Just as it protects the “Patriot Police” that have taken to burning his jersey, declaring him a low life, and expressing their opinions about him. His actions and decisions were well thought out and he fully understood the potential impact when he sat during the national anthem. I can’t say that the “Patriot Police” have thought out their actions or their arguments nearly as well.