When Kaepernick decided to sit during the National Anthem, he said he would not stand for a country that mistreats minorities. Like God, the anthem and flag can represent something specific to each individual. It doesn’t necessarily represent freedom. It doesn’t necessarily represent culture. It doesn’t necessarily represent the fallen. It represents what you want it to, depending on your education, upbringing, ideals, or mood. But does disrespecting the majority of the country help your cause?
Donald Trump had a knee-jerk reaction to Kaepernick and said, “Kaepernick should quit the United States and move somewhere else.” That entirely defies the foundation of America, yet surprisingly there were plenty of people who said the same thing, with a lighter touch than Trump’s of course–not that anyone should be proud of that because everything Trump touches turns into a pile of bigoted shit.
Conversely, people on Kaepernick’s side that say, “If you don’t understand why Kaepernick is sitting during the National Anthem, then you don’t understand freedom,” are just as illogical.
For a country as diverse as the United States, the flag can represent so much more than freedom. For some it represents slavery. For others, military, pride, nationality, hot dogs, American thighs, Olympics domination, and so on.
The first thing I think about when looking at the flag or listening to the anthem are the soldiers that fell to protect this land. And that’s why I was so offended when I saw Kaepernick sitting during the National Anthem.
I always stand during the National Anthem because I want to show respect for veterans and the fallen. As a Jew when I look at the flag, I don’t think about antisemitism in the South. But that’s just me. That’s my perspective. I’m able to separate current struggles from my nationalism. I want society to progress, but I won’t insult the nation.
We can all agree America isn’t quite equal under God, even though there’s no better place on earth. And only an idiot like Donald Trump would argue that minorities are treated with complete fairness.
Kaepernick wants the flag to represent what America SHOULD BE, and it’s not, which is why he’s sitting. When he looks at the red, white, and blue on the flag, maybe he sees White men in blue uniforms abusing innocent, Black men covered in blood red. Maybe he sees the government withholding education and money from the impoverished. That’s his perspective. But what he’s failing to see is the flag, this country, and this military fought tooth and nail to give him his public voice, in addition to that lucrative contract he fails to live up to for the 49ers.
My ultimate feeling is this: Kaepernick has the “right” to sit, but he’s going about his cause the wrong way. When you anger more than half the country, your plight will be ignored. There are much better ways to show your support for a culture that you feel is being treated unfairly.
The best way to create change as a celebrity is exemplified by LeBron James. He’s created a foundation for underprivileged families in Cleveland. And recently he, along with three NBA stars, used the stage at the ESPY’s to talk about gun violence and #BlackLivesMatter. LeBron TALKED and created a foundation. He didn’t sit, mope, and do nothing. He made ACTION.
Kaepernick did follow through and announced he’s donating $1 million to help communities in need, but that was after the fact. There is no need to disrespect the flag when the better option is to respect underprivileged people with ACTION.
The only reason Kaepernick has that million to spend, or that mansion to live in, or that luxury car to drive in, or that free air to breathe is because of the generations before him who struggled through slavery, depression, and war. That includes Black, White, Asian, Indian, Jewish, Italian, Irish, and all ethnic groups who fought for this country under the flag, through bad times and worse.
Stand for the flag. Stand for the anthem. When the song is over, act.