The San Francisco 49ers captured headlines recently because quarterback Colin Kaepernick remained seated during the national anthem. When asked why he sat during the anthem, Kaepernick replied that it was to protest and call attention to oppression of people of color in America, and that he would sit until “there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent in this country,” mentioning his displeasure with both major parties’ nominees.
Many took to social media to voice their anger at his perceived lack of patriotism. Fans burned his jersey. Players, coaches and reporters slammed his opinions.
This has been one of the most peaceful protests to take place in the past few years. With all the criticism of protesting at political rallies and the Black Lives Matter movement, one would think that such a non-confrontational, non-violent protest would be met with relief from everyone, especially the police, who often have to show up in large numbers to defuse protests that devolve into violence and represent a danger to the community.
So why are the Santa Clara police threatening to refuse to serve at NFL games? Why does Kaepernick receive such disdain from his contemporaries? Why does everyone seem to think that exercising his right to free speech is unpatriotic?
In fact, isn’t it safe to assume that most Americans believe that the country could be improved in some way?
Forty-one percent of Americans would vote today for Donald Trump, according to The Huffington Post. Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again,” implies that many of those people find our current system inadequate. Trump himself said that Kaepernick should find a new country. Perhaps he was angry about someone using his strategy: doing something inflammatory so the media will give him a platform to speak on issues he finds important. This move should sound quite familiar to those following the election.
This hypocrisy is not one-sided; nearly everyone has a problem with America. Odds are you either believe that gun laws are becoming too stringent, or there are too many guns on the street. Either we spend way too much on our military, or we need a stronger army to keep us safe. The difference is that Kaepernick is actually standing up for his beliefs.
Why is he not allowed to protest? Clearly, it’s okay to disagree with the system in place; people do it every day. Everyone who has attacked Kaepernick over the past week must ask themselves one key question: Are you upset about the protest, or the fact that you don’t have the courage to do it yourself?
Curtis Mitchell is a junior majoring in finance.
Featured image courtesy Pixabay user ClassicallyPrinted