The Kaepernick controversy

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Did you ever want something so badly as a child, that you made a scene in public? We’ve all seen it. The pudgy, red faced toddler wrestling with his indignant mother in the middle of the local Walmart. The squabble is usually over a toy, or some other elusive item the child desires or even demands. The desire itself is rarely innately wrong, or immoral, but the means of acquiring it that the child adopts only highlight his immaturity.

On September 1, 2016 Colin Kaepernick kneeled for the first time during the national anthem at an NFL preseason game to protest police brutality, particularly against young black men. Since that time, dozens, if not hundreds of NFL players have joined him in kneeling. This has resulted in a dip in ratings for the league, boycotts and eventually a ban on kneeling during the anthem.

Yesterday, Nike unveiled the spokesman for its 30th anniversary of the Just Do It campaign. It chose none other than Colin Kaepernick, complete with the tagline, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” The backlash has been massive. Virtually everyone, political and apolitical, sports fan and sports novice, has an opinion on the move.

I don’t disagree with Colin’s cause, and it’s asinine to assert that he isn’t sacrificing the remainder of his career by doing this. He is extremely passionate about ending needless racism and violence. Whether or not you can agree with him on who’s at fault, we can all agree that the amount of firefights and shootings involving police officers and young black men is heartbreaking. Relationships between these two groups need repairing, not ignoring.

Where Kaepernick goes wrong is in the means he has chosen to advance his message, much like the young child arguing with mom in the toy store. Kneeling during the national anthem is immature at best. There are countless other ways to protest, to garner attention, to use his platform, that do not desecrate our national anthem.

If I wanted to protest limitations on free speech by dropping 30 f-bombs on a live tv interview, would it be right? It would underscore my point. It would be effective. It would draw massive amounts of attention to my cause. But would it be right?

If I disagreed with the direction in which my church was going, and I sprang up one Sunday morning, shouting from my pew at the insolence of my pastor, would it be right? People would take notice. I’d get my message out. But would it be right?

You have to ask yourself, what message does kneeling during the anthem send? What unspoken message does this physical act of protest carry with it? The national anthem is the thesis of our nation. It is the champion artistic expression of our collective patriotism. In it we boast not in ourselves, but in the originally American ideals and principles that helped guide our forefathers out of the mire of totalitarianism.

By protesting that song, you are denying belief in those ideals and principles. It infuriates people, because those are the threads that have held us together, black and white, rich and poor, for hundreds of years. When you reject them, when you reject that song, you destroy all common ground on which we could move forward, and declare yourself a separatist. Some things are still sacred, even in today’s America. The national anthem is one of them.

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