September 24, 2017 v4 p39
I try to stay away from getting involved in political discussions, but the current topic making its rounds on social media has brought me in. There are so many arguments to be made on both sides.
Last night I posed the question on my Facebook account of whether or not current NFL free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick would be offered a contract on Monday. I asked that question because of the statements made by President Trump at a rally on Friday September 22. As I was scrolling through my Twitter feed I saw multiple responses issued by owners of NFL teams speaking out against what the president had suggested, to fire any player who doesn’t stand during the national anthem. I understand the President Trump may disagree with these actions by professional athletes, but does he need to be commenting on this? I’d like to take a few moments to review a few points.
The first area I’d like to look at is what started all of this. During the 2016 NFL preseason Colin Kaepernick began sitting during the playing of the National Anthem. This went un-noticed for the first two weeks, but began to be noticed in the third. The more it got noticed, the more other players began to support him. His reasoning behind sitting was to bring light to injustice against Americans of African descent by law enforcement around the country. As the season went he changed his protest from sitting to kneeling. He made this change after talking with a former Green Beret as a way to “not take away from the military and those fighting for our country.” He felt this was a way to continue to get his word out in a more respectful manner. This didn’t change the level of disrespect to some. A lot more athletes began supporting him by kneeling or otherwise showing solidarity in what he was trying to bring to light. These types of protests continued throughout the season, throughout the league.
When the season ended Kaepernick’s contract was fulfilled and he was allowed to enter the free agent pool. There were four teams that have been reported as having shown interest in signing him. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll is quoted as saying that Kaepernick is “a starter in this league” but Kaepernick left Seattle without a contract offer. At one time he was, and could justifiably go into a tryout with a team looking to sign a new starting quarterback. After having early success in San Francisco as a starter his production began to slip. Some may claim he isn’t that good, others may claim that defenses have figure him out. Whatever your thought about it is, if you’re reading this you probably aren’t in the position to be making those decisions. When you look at the list of free agent quarterbacks that have been signed since Kaepernick entered the field it’s hard to justify that the majority of them are better at the position than he is. This looks a lot like he’s being evaluated for reasons other than his playing ability.
The second part of this I’d like to take a look at is our President’s involvement. This is certainly a topic that our President should be trying to unify our country through. The way he is handling it isn’t really in a Presidential manner. To publicly come out and state that an American citizen is a “Son of a Bitch” is not the type of language our country needs to hearing from its leader. This topic needs to be addressed, but resulting to name calling will only undermine the respect the President has in trying to bring about change. What sort of message does that send to the rest of the world about President Trump? I can’t believe it’s one that would instill trust. There are far more important domestic and foreign issues that the leader of our country needs to concentrate on besides the actions of an unsigned free agent quarterback. I don’t recall in my lifetime when a celebrity or athlete has caused this much turmoil in our country.
For the President to publicly state that a private entity should “fire” its employees is beyond the scope of the office. No person in the government has the right take away a citizen’s First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech. Especially if that right is being pursued in a peaceful and legal manner. I think something that is being lost in this whole argument is that Colin Kaepernick has done nothing illegal. The reasoning behind these protests are certainly warranted, police brutality and corruption are topics that need to be addressed all throughout the country. If you don’t think that’s true then you should probably do some research on the topics. I’m pretty sure that the majority of law enforcement officers do their jobs the right way, but it seems to be an almost daily occurrence where another one is found not to be. This has eroded the trust of the citizens in the police force. More often than not when I hear reports of shootings on the local news, the story includes the line, “the victim is not cooperating with Police.” That leads me to believe that the victim knows the suspect, or is going to find out who they are, and then settle matters in their own manner. Lack of trust is leading to that.
I don’t agree with the way Colin Kaepernick is going about his protest. There are better avenues for a professional athlete to get his word out. I do support his right to perform his protest in a legal way, just as I would expect every other person to support my right under that same amendment to pursue my religion in a legal way. Before the playing of the National Anthem is played at sporting events the public address announcer ask all in attendance to “Please Rise.” In the U.S. Flag Code issued by the United States Military is states that all non-military citizens SHOULD stand at attention during the National Anthem or when it passes during a parade. How many times have you been sitting in your lawn chair, watching a parade, and the flag passes? How many of those times did you stand, at attention? While you’re sitting at home watching sports on television and they play the National Anthem, do you stand, at attention? I’ve never really thought about that one before until today. Is that really being any less disrespectful than what athletes are doing at the games? There are a multitude of examples on the U.S Military website about how the flag should not be disrespected. I encourage you to look them up and them maybe take a look around your home and your life and see how you may be actually committing a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail. What you won’t find is that you must stand.
This topic isn’t one that’s going to go away anytime soon, and if we can’t discuss it in a peaceful manner we won’t get anywhere. If it comes to all of us being told we must stand for the flag, then we will be heading in the wrong direction.