The argument against San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick choosing not to stand during the national anthem in protest of police brutality against people of color is that it’s somehow disrespectful to our troops or anti-American. That must mean that brown and Black-ness is inherently anti-American and our veterans fought for nothing.
After a tremendous amount of backlash from Twitter thugs and Facebook fiends, Kaepernick explained his reasoning behind the peaceful protest to NFL Network reporter Steve Wyche, saying: “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.” A notable response from @ tedcruz on Twitter reads: “To all the athletes who have made millions in America’s freedom: stop insulting our flag, our nation, our heroes.” Ted Cruz’s squint-eyed view on Kaepernick’s prost is one of the main faults in these nay-sayers’ arguments: just because one person of color has “made it” in white America, doesn’t mean that racism has magically disappeared for non-millionaire athletes or even the millionaire athletes themselves.
Athletes and plain civilians around the world have been inspired by Kaepernick’s brave and unapologetic stand against police brutality. Since the initial blow-up, dozens of other NFL athletes have sat or taken a knee during their pre-kickoff national anthems. After four Miami Dolphins players knelt for the national anthem on Sept. 11, model Kate Upton said on Twitter: “This is unacceptable. You should be proud to be an American. Especially on 9/11 when we should support each other.” Again, the fact that sticking up for human rights is somehow un-American is absurd and distressing.
Surprisingly, Kaepernick received the most support from these supposedly disrespected veterans. Veterans know better than anybody that they are the very reason that people can protest and stand up for what they believe in in this country. U.S. Army veteran Richard Allen Smith put together a letter of support for Kaepernick and other protesters. The letter, which was signed by 35 veterans, can be summed up by: “While we would not all personally choose to protest in a manner identical to Kaepernick, we respect and honor his choice, and whole-heartedly join him in stating unequivocally that BLACK LIVES MATTER. The current state of affairs for people of color in America is unsustainable and unacceptable.” The right to protest is what makes America so great. Veterans support Colin Kaepernick, so why doesn’t every American?