Sept. 6 2016 05:40 PM

What does it matter if Colin Kaepernick doesn't love America as much as you?

Colin Kaepernick takes a knee
ESPN/youtube/CC BY

When Steve Wyche of NFL Media asked San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick why he is boycotting the National Anthem, he said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color...”

This, of course, elicited outrage from the hyper-patriotic, ultranationalist types who prefer to remain shuttered about race issues, followed by more outrage from the First Amendment sycophants who believe that free speech means you can say whatever you want and never have to take shit for it.

Well, until the U.S. government forces Kaepernick to stand up for the National Anthem, this is not a First Amendment issue. However, I can’t help but notice the irony. I mean, consider the lyrics: “Rockets’ red glare / Bursting in air”? This is a poem about dissent and a war against tyranny. Colin Kaepernick is in a similar war. He fired a shot across the bow of the privileged majority and now the glaring red rockets of reactionary defensiveness are bursting around him.

This is especially true on the social media pages where the patrio-maniacs post excessively punctuated arguments in all-caps, italics and/or bold-face. For instance you have the, “HOW-DARE-YOU-INSULT-THE-COUNTRY-THAT-MADE-YOU-RICH????” reasoning—as if Kaepernick didn’t earn his money, America gifted it to him.

There is also the, “IF-YOU-DON’T-LOVE-AMERICA-THEN-YOU-SHOULD-LEAVE IT!!” idiocy—as if the suggestion that America is imperfect means you don’t love it.

Then you have the, “THAT-IS-AN-UNACCEPTABLE-WAY-FOR-OUR-CHILDREN’S-ROLE-MODELS-TO-BEHAVE!!!” gasbaggery—as if the conviction of standing for your beliefs is something to shield the children from.

And my favorite, the, “YOU’RE-INSULTING-THE-SOLDIERS-WHO-DIED-FOR-THAT-FLAG!!!!!!!!!!!” fatuity—as if the way to honor the sacrifices of veterans is through silence. As if Old Glory is the reason they fought, not the ideals it represents. As if any soldier in his right mind would rush into crossfire to save a bleeding, bullet-riddled flag. As if to say, “Just shut up and tap dance, black man!”

Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave...”I understand why Francis Scott Key got teary when he saw it flying over Fort McHenry after that long and ugly battle. It meant his countrymen were victorious. But what if the flag had been destroyed, yet the fort remained intact and the battle won? Would Key have been less exhilarated? Conversely, what if the flag remained but the battle lost? Would there be reason to rejoice, “That our flag was still there?” The question is, which is more important, the symbol of victory or an actual victory? Symbols are not worth dying for. And isn’t it hilarious that the people who are so outraged by Kaepernick’s symbolic insult to a symbolic song about a symbolic piece of fabric are the same ones running their mouths about how we need to “Make America Great Again” (MAGA).

Well guess what? That word “America” you just used in a negative light? It’s a symbol, too. The word “America” is a symbol for the actual America, so when someone goes around talking that MAGA crap, they’re saying that there’s something wrong with the country, that it needs some fixin’. Yet I can’t think of one, single instance when anyone ever told one of these MAGA-crites to move if they don’t like America.

O’er the land of the free / and the home of the brave.” Agree or not, what Kaepernick did was an act of bravery. His decisions have been financially, professionally and socially expensive and will likely become more so in the near future. As for “land of the free,” it should be noted that freedom was not really something that the author of the Star Spangled Banner gave a fuck-much about. Key was a pro-slavery U.S. Attorney who used his position to undermine abolitionists. This was a man who believed that blacks were “an inferior race of people” and had the audacity to pen the words “O’er land of the free” while at the same time lording over his own stable of yoked Africans.

Admittedly, “freedom” has come a long way since then. Indeed, freedom is the primary rallying call of those who have come to Kaepernick’s defense. Former Jets’ lineman Damien Woody said, “[This] is what comes with a free society.” Dolphins’ running back Arian Foster wrote, “You’re free to have any religious/political views you feel.” Well no duh. As I wrote earlier, this is not a question of whether he has the “right” to do it. The question is, why do you care if he does?

What does it matter that some guy you don’t know doesn’t love America as much as you? Even if Kaepernick didn’t have a pretty darn good point about the state of minority relations in this country, even if he said the reason he won’t stand for “The Star Spangled Banner” is so he doesn’t lose his sponsorship deal with ISIS—even if it’s true that he hates America’s government, people and culture; even if he hates its lakes and dirt and trees; even if Kaepernick hates the Statue of Motherluvin’ Liberty—Who. The Fuck. Cares?

“Home of the brave” my ass. Not when you have so many people getting all butt-hurt because someone was rude to our favorite song. Makes you wonder if the lyrics shouldn’t be changed to, “...and the home, of the—overly-sensitive-ultranationalist-types-who-hysterically-overreact-to-criticism—and a few, like Kaepernick, who are [long pause] braaave.”


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