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Three Cheers for Kaepernick: Is Sitting During the National Anthem an Acceptable Form of Protest?

By       Message Mike Whitney     Permalink
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Reprinted from Counterpunch

"Yes, I'll continue to sit. I'm going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me this is something that has to change. When there's significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it's supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it's supposed to, I'll stand."
-- Colin Kaepernick

If you don't think it takes guts to stay seated during the National Anthem, then buy a ticket for a major sporting event -- let's say, a baseball game -- and refuse to stand up when the singing starts. Then you'll see the fur fly. Then you'll see how rankled people get when you don't participate in their patriotic rituals.

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On Friday night, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, refused to stand for the national anthem before a preseason game with the Green Bay Packers. As a result, he's been universally excoriated, scorned and reviled by liberals and conservatives alike. I mean, it's only been 48 hours since the incident, and already the man has already been dragged through the meatgrinder. Almost overnight, Kaepernick has become the guy that everyone loves to hate, the new Hitler.

But, why? Because he had the audacity to make a statement about the treatment of blacks in America today? Because he wanted to draw attention to the numerous young black men that have gunned down by cops in cities across the country? Because he wanted people to realize that the "land of the free" ain't so free if your skin isn't lily-white? Is that why everyone is so pissed off?

"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. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder." (C. Kaepernick)

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He's got a point, doesn't he? The killing of black men by cops has reached an epidemic level and yet nothing ever happens. Nothing. The perpetrators conjure up some goofy alibi with the help of their lawyers, and invariably get off scot-free. Every damn time. Why is that? Why can't African Americans get justice in this country? It's sickening and ridiculous at the same time.

Why is it ridiculous?

It's ridiculous because the masses are more incensed about Kaepernick's "sit-down" protest than they are about the dozens of black men who end up getting snuffed-out by trigger-happy cops. Talk about "getting your priorities wrong."

So now we're going to have to suffer through weeks of anti-Kaepernick hysteria and demonization so the media can further exacerbate racial divisions by triggering a firestorm of rage from the uber-patriot crowd that thinks that black athletes should "shut-the-hell-up and play ball or leave the country."

Think I'm kidding? Take a look at some of these statements on the Washington Post comments line:

"What a F-ing clown. His sorry a** should be focused on claiming the starting spot and gaining the respect and trust of his teammates instead some stupid a** protest. He's done. What a scrub!" DooDoo

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"If America is so bad why not move somewhere else? Ungrateful jerk." David Nicholson

"This Country does NOT oppress anyone...stop being a victim." Barry Rock

"What an A Hole. Blacks kill each other on a nightly basis in every city in this country. No one brings up black lives matter then do they? Maybe people should put their efforts into stopping these senseless killings. Only when it is a cop killing a black, which by the way were doing things criminally wrong in the first place, does anyone want to protest. Sorry I mean loot, vandalize and burn down cities. I was taught at a young age if you stay out of trouble you won't have any problems with the law. There's a new concept for you. Kapernick you can rot in hell." Yogi4130

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Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.


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