How many “real” news stories are transpiring as I write this, the umpteenth unnecessary opinion piece about Colin Kaepernick and his protest to kneel during the national anthem? There have been over 500 murders in Chicago this year and we are just over the halfway mark. A real criminal justice reform package is stalled in Congress. There was yet another unarmed black man killed in Tulsa adding fuel to the already extremely hot fire of minority/police relations (hence why Mr. Kaepernick is kneeling in the first place.) Further, I write about criminal justice and police issues and this unimportant topic touches only the outermost edges of my interest. Yet, over the past few weeks, I have been asked several times what I, as a combat veteran, thought of Kaepernick's protest.
Who am I to disagree with the will of the people? Let’s talk about Colin Kaepernick.
From what I can tell from reading the news and never having met the man, Mr. Kaepernick is a privileged donkey-hole who has no concept of what the national anthem means to service members. He is a man who makes millions playing a game, something possible only because of the riches and freedom secured by the men and women of the Armed Forces who protect the American way of life. I think this point is undisputable. It also seems to me that Mr. Kaepernick has dug himself in a very deep public relations hole. Specifically, he has stated that he will continue to kneel until he was satisfied with changes made toward ending racial oppression. When could he ever be satisfied? Sadly, it seems we have a very long road ahead of us in healing our racial wounds. We live in a country where my 12-year-old son is called the N-word in his middle-class Northern Virginia neighborhood by a 11-year-old white girl, for no other reason than she was irritated with him and thought so little of it afterward. A country where almost a half of the unarmed people shot by police are black, despite black people only representing 13 percent of the population. I am not here to litigate each shooting as justified or not—but the number on its face is shocking.
Putting these facts aside, I went into the military at 17. My son joined at 17 and is in infantry basic training right now. My father, grandfather, great-grandfather and three of my siblings all served. But none of us did so in order to force people to stand for the national anthem. Indeed, we joined so that citizens would not have to.
It’s disconcerting that many people use the mantra "freedom is not free," but then forget exactly what that means. It means that the freedom my sisters and brothers in uniform bought Mr. Kaepernick was his right to be a donkey-hole and to protest. You either love the First Amendment or you don't. You don't get to pick and choose. On that same note, it means I can write this irrelevant article and pontificate about Mr. Kaepernick – that's freedom!
There is an irony that, during the Baltimore and Ferguson protests (and, at times, riots), we heard many opine that African-Americans should "protest peacefully." Now we have a man who, while perhaps being disrespectful, is nonetheless protesting peacefully. And yet, for some, that’s a national tragedy. This lunacy of the whole affair was perfectly captured in the latest episode of South Park, when the whole town came to see if a squad of children volleyball players would stand for the anthem, only to leave before the game actually starts once their twisted curiosity was satisfied.
Moreover, if you do stand for the national anthem and think that alone makes you a "good American," you don't understand how this all works. It’s like all those "good Christians" who cheat on their taxes and hate others - sorry brother, that is not how Jesus rolled. Protesting is one of the most American things one can do.
P.S., the “secret” reason I think that Colin Kaepernick is a donkey-hole is because he plays for the San Francisco 49ers. As a dedicated Seattle Seahawks fan, I of course “hate” them all and this article has nothing to do with my Seahawks’ extremely weak start to the season (how could they lose to the Rams?). I couldn’t care less if he wants to sit, kneel, squat or stand for the national anthem. But I will say that there are much better ways to protest police violence on minorities. The national anthem does not represent what is wrong with the United States, it represents our aspirations and what is good: that we have thousands of brave men and women in both the military and police who are willing to put on a uniform, get paid very little and sacrifice, at times, everything. I stand for the national anthem because it represents those who have served and are serving. In doing so, they protect Mr. Kaepernick's rights to not only be a donkey-hole, but also to protest as he sees fit.
So Mr. Kaepernick, go on being a classless donkey-hole. I hope you get crushed every game this season. And on Sept. 25, 2016, if you even get to play this season, I hope you see Old Glory flying above the north side end-zone in Seattle’s CenturyLink Field and you exercise your American right to protest the flag while lying on your recently sacked back. Because let’s face it, if you are not on your feet, your butt, knees or back are all about the same.