So apparently our country can't stop talking about athletes that are taking a knee or protesting in some way during the national anthem at their various sporting events. It all began when Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench during the National Anthem about three weeks ago, as a way to protest alleged police brutality and racial injustice. After a social media firestorm, more players took part by going to one knee during the Anthem. A further social media firestorm erupted, as backers and detractors began to comment and create memes (I hate memes) either supporting or decrying what some athletes have begun to do on what appears to be a regular basis (some say they plan to go to one knee during the Anthem for the rest of their seasons) before their games during the National Anthem.
My time and attention given to social and political issues on this blog has waned in recent years, and I actually hope to keep it that way for the most part. But there have been a few thoughts swimming around in my head as I hear about more and more athletes kneeling during the National Anthem, so I'm going to write them down here.
1. First and foremost, this protest is mostly based on lies. Of his protest, Kaepernick has said, "I'm 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." How noble of Mr. Kaepernick. The only problem is that there is no evidence that backs up anything he says. He says that this country "oppresses black people and people of color." All evidence points to the contrary (including Kaepernick himself, who has aspired and risen to the position of a very wealthy professional footballer). Furthermore, he says that "There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder." Again, there is no evidence that this statement is true. In fact, many who have been accused of such things have been exonerated, much to the chagrin of people like Kaepernick. At the very least, it has yet to be proven that any police officer involved in recent shootings committed murder, so at best Kaepernick and others have significantly jumped the gun. I realize that facts don't matter to most people nowadays, but they still matter to me. And if Kaepernick and his ilk have integrity at all, they should consider the facts of what they're actually taking a stand for. In fact, to accuse people of serious crimes with no proof - and to slander them for the same - is, in itself, a serious injustice. Colin, you're taking a stand for a lie, and fracturing the very justice that you claim to love and uphold.
2. Many have rightly pointed out that our brave men in uniform who died in service to their country, and who are particularly honored by a rendering of the National Anthem, did so to preserve freedoms such as the freedom to protest by taking a knee during the National Anthem. I agree entirely. I am so very grateful for the freedom to take a knee during the National Anthem in protest. However, those same men also died to preserve my freedom to regard you as an ignorant fool for partaking in such a protest. Yes, you have the right to protest, and I likewise have the right to call you out on your foolishness. The knife cuts both ways.
3. The protests started with Colin Kaepernick sitting on the bench while his teammates stood. It has since morphed into taking a knee on the sidelines in and amongst other standing teammates. The purpose of this evolution has been to "show that they still had respect for the anthem and military, while still bringing awareness to racial inequality and police brutality." More likely, this change was brought about by the natural (and appropriate) backlash that occurred from such a show of disrespect, so the protesting athletes had to capitulate to some more tolerable form of protest. I find this ironic: A protest occurred and it was met with a negative backlash, so the protesters changed their protest to something that was more culturally palatable (albeit, barely). Doesn't that completely defeat the purpose of the protest? Isn't the protest supposed to make people uncomfortable? Mission accomplished. So why change it? I understand that it was to still show respect to the flag and military, but I don't buy that. If you're going to protest, protest. Don't let "The Man" tell you how to protest, or else it ceases to be the protest you intended. Be a man and sit on the bench. Don't take a knee. Take responsibility for your actions. If you're going to make a statement, make it.