(Colin Kaepernick photo courtesy SF 49ers)
By Ron Borges
Talk of Fame Network
Colin Kaepernick’s stand not to stand for the national anthem seems to have hit both a nerve and a confused understanding of what the brave men and women of the military actually fight for.
The 49ers’ former phenom quarterback announced last week he was not standing for the National Anthem because too many minorities in America are not as free as their white counterparts. This seems to have made some people nervous, others angry and a few lose their minds.
Kaepernick has been heavily criticized on anti-social media and by a number of NFL players and coaches for taking this position. To me much of their criticism is bogus and if one goes to #veteransforKaepernick you begin to see the other side of things beyond the knee-jerk reaction of many.
One does not have to agree with Kaepernick’s stance, but the idea that it is disrespectful to members of the American military to exercise one of the rights they fought … and, in too many cases, died to provide us … is about as mistaken an understanding of what they fought for as one can imagine.
They did not fight for a 100-yard piece of cloth strung out across a football field or for some symbol of what America stands for. They fought and died not for a flag or a symbol but rather for people to have the right to do exactly what Kaepernick is doing without, as some have suggested, losing his job.
Kaepernick gave a calm and reasoned explanation for his feelings and made some good points, including that a cosmetologist in California has to undergo more stringent training (over 1,600 hours) to operate a curling iron than armed police officers have to do in some cities and towns (800 hours to graduate from the police academy. Anyone think that’s not a little concerning?
His former coach, Jim Harbaugh, at first disagreed with Kaepernick’s motivation but quickly backed off and said it was his method he abhorred. Fair enough. But is it better if he harbors these feelings yet stands like a phony, hand over heart, muttering words he doesn’t believe are true?
Harbaugh’s brother, John, almost got it right when he quoted Voltaire’s ‘I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend it until death your right to say it,'” and said, “That’s a principle that our country is founded on. I don’t think you can deny someone the right to speak out or mock or make fun or belittle anybody else’s opinion.”
Had he stopped there he seemed on the right track. But then, being a football coach, this all became about distracting your team. Hey, coach, maybe it’s time we all got a little more distracted by what’s going on in the streets and a little less distracted by the Red Zone Channel. You think?
To his credit, Colin Kaepernick has not complained about the vitriol he’s faced. It comes with standing up for something more than a song. Which is why too many people stand for the anthem but not much else.
A 20-year Navy veteran named Jim Wright wrote an eloquent blog message in support of Kaepernick that went viral on Tuesday night. The essence of what he said is this: He joined the military so that Colin Kaepernick can do what he is doing. But he went farther, and that’s what made his piece so compelling.
In a nutshell, Wright pointed out that for things to work as our founding fathers intended, respect must flow from the strong to the weak before it can be expected to flow back. Anything else is just power, forcing the weak to act as if they respect you when they really don’t.
His suggestion to those who found Kaepernick’s gesture so off putting was a powerful one. He said prove him wrong by making America more of what it hopes to be and less of what it is today.
Made me wonder why Jim Wright isn’t our candidate for President. As of today, he’s mine.