Mark Tapson is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the editor of TruthRevolt.com.
Controversy arose over the weekend when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked outrage by remaining seated on the bench during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the beginning of Friday night’s loss to the Green Bay Packers. Why did he sit out the national anthem, while the rest of his teammates and coaches stood? Well, it wasn’t because he was conserving energy for the game. Instead, by sitting he was taking a stand against America’s white supremacy.
After the game Kaepernick, the half-black adopted son of white parents (his real father was “out of the picture” before he was even born to a destitute white mother), told NFL.com,
“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.”
Needless to say, this galling explanation went over like a lead balloon with sports fans, who generally like their superstar athletes to display a more patriotic humility and gratitude. This was not the first time he has sat out the anthem this preseason, but the news exploded over the weekend and lit up social media. Commentators and Twitterers pointed out to him that this oppressor nation voted in a black President twice (and would probably vote him in again if not for the 22nd Amendment). They reminded him that this land of opportunity allowed him to rise to his rare, privileged position to the tune of a $114 million contract, not including lucrative endorsements. Kaepernick, it seemed, has a rather unique definition of oppression.
Adding fuel to the rumor fire was word that the quarterback, who grew up Protestant and has a Bible quotation tattoo, may have quietly converted to Islam very recently due to the influence of his girlfriend/possible fiancée Nessa Diab, a radio DJ who is being described as a “Black Lives Matter activist.”
Kaepernick was unfazed by the angry reaction and never gave notice to anyone on the team of his intention:
“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
No word about losing any endorsements yet, but apparently the 49ers aren’t going to relieve him of all that unbearable oppression by letting him go. The 49ers released a statement in which the management basically washed its hands of the controversy:
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.
“No one’s tried to quiet me,” Kaepernick said Sunday at his locker,
“and, to be honest, it’s not something I’m going to be quiet about. I’m going to speak the truth when I’m asked about it. This isn’t for look. This isn’t for publicity or anything like that. This is for people that don’t have the voice. And this is for people that are being oppressed and need to have equal opportunities to be successful. To provide for families and not live in poor circumstances.”
Kaepernick intends to press the point every time the anthem is played prior to a game. “When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.” Meanwhile he’s happy to be a lightning rod for national outrage about his disrespect of the Stars and Stripes:
“I think there’s a lot of consequences that come along with this. There’s a lot of people that don’t want to have this conversation. They’re scared they might lose their job. Or they might not get the endorsements. They might not to be treated the same way. Those are things I’m prepared to handle.”
One of the issues he wants to see addressed before he shows respect is police brutality. “There’s people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable. People are being given paid leave for killing people. That’s not right. That’s not right by anyone’s standards.” In Kaepernick’s mind, if blacks are killed by (white) cops, it must be because the latter are racist murderers being protected by racist accomplices in The System. It couldn’t possibly be because those blacks might have given the cops reason to suspect their lives were in danger by, say, assaulting the officers or reaching for a weapon.
Contrast Kaepernick’s petulant gesture with the respect shown the flag by American track and field athlete Sam Kendricks, who is also a U.S Army reservist. Kendricks was sprinting down the lane in an attempt at the pole vault in the qualifying round earlier this month when he realized our national anthem was playing. Kendricks stopped on a dime, dropped his pole, and stood at attention. Similarly, Jamaican Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, recently interrupted a live television interview to show his respect for “The Star-Spangled Banner” – and he’s not even an American citizen.
If Kaepernick truly cared about the circumstances of black Americans, he would stand for the America flag, which represents the freedom and equal opportunity that this country offers to all, and against the BLM agitators he is implicitly supporting – racist, anti-capitalist, Marxist militants who don’t give a damn about black lives unless they can be exploited to stoke a race war. He would stand as a proud symbol that blacks in America are free to do and become anything they work hard for, including wealthy and powerful. He would stand against the Democratic party, which also doesn’t give a damn about the black lives it has locked into government dependency for the last 60 years. He would stand alongside such black, patriotic successes as surgeon Ben Carson and former athlete Michael Jordan (who took heat from Black Lives Matter for donating $2 million to charities working to improve police-community relations) as men who love this country and manage to work toward positive change without disrespecting the flag. He would stand as a role model for young blacks who can aspire to something other than joining a gang or rapping about killing cops.
Instead, Colin Kaepernick’s choice was to exacerbate racial tensions and perpetuate the ugly lie that black males are being slaughtered in the streets by a systemically racist police force when they’re actually being slaughtered in the streets by other blacks, or in abortion clinics. His frankly race-mongering, willful ignorance about the extraordinary success of civil rights in America, and the real sources of serious problems in the black community (such as the Democrat-abetted breakdown of the black family – including his own), won’t result in a single positive step toward the change he wants to see. Instead, his attitude is unconscionable and literally dangerous at time when the terrorists of Black Lives Matter (BLM) are successfully pushing for a race war.