If you’ve been a football fan for the past few years, the name Colin Kaepernick might ring a bell. He is the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, and has appeared in a super bowl against the Baltimore Ravens.
Needless to say, being a super bowl-contending NFL quarterback, Kaepernick has a far reaching influence on the American populace.
Understanding his influence, Kaepernick decided to protest oppression of minorities in the U.S. by refusing to stand during the national anthem before a preseason game last Sunday, August 28th.
The story ran rampant, with thousands of people flocking to social media to either flame the quarterback for his hearty protest, or support him for standing up for something he believes in – even if his stance is highly controversial.
But what is even more interesting about this issue is how potential future president Donald Trump is deciding to handle it.
Given that social inequality is an ongoing issue in America, the President should handle every situation like this with care, yet this doesn’t seem to be the case with Donald Trump
When asked about the case, Trump insisted that Colin Kaepernick, “should find a country that works better for him”, as well as stating that he personally thinks, “it is not a good thing”, that Kaepernick is protesting against social issues that continue to flurry in the nation.
Believe me, this isn’t the first time Mr. Trump has responded in a rash manner towards a social issue. So it’s always interesting to see how he responds in moments like these, moments that require a gentle, and well thought out response from a president. However, given his strong sense of patriotism, one can’t really expect Trump to hold back on something like this.
Personally, I find it quite concerning that Mr.Trump would jump so fast to tell Kaepernick to outright, “leave the country,” when all he did was express his views. In fact, All Colin did was exercise his first amendment, which reads,
Prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.
When the Obama administration was asked about Kaepernick’s protest, they responded just as they should have, saying, “we surely all acknowledge and even defend his right to express those views in the settings that he chooses. Even as objectionable as we find his perspective, he certainly is entitled to express them.”
Obama is known to be a sports advocate, but he chose not to take a strong stance on the issue – which being the experienced politician he is, is a very smart decision.
It just goes to show how Trump has and will continue to inadequately analyze, and respond to situations that carry economic, social, and political consequences.
Although highly controversial, Kaepernick has the full right to protest for what he believes in – he has not broken any laws, and he has not harmed anyone through his actions
You gotta hand it to him, the guy is smart. He knows that being an NFL quarterback, he has been placed in a position in America that gives him a strong influence on the American citizens.
As said by Peter King, Kaepernick uses politics, sports, cops, and race to stir the emotions of Americans, sports enthusiast or not, and by being an African American NFL quarterback, he knew that his protest would be seen by all.
Like him or not, you have to respect his ability to stand up for what he believes in to pretty much an entire nation.
Now many are scrutinizing Kaepernick for his decision to sit while the national anthem is playing, and rightfully so. The anthem represents something sacred to Americans, just like any anthem for any country. By standing for the anthem, you are showing respect for your brothers who have fallen in battle to protect your freedom.
This is what has so many outraged.
But as I said, Kaepernick is a smart man. He understands that there are brave warriors who have died to protect their freedom, which is why he has stood for the national anthem for his whole life – but times have changed, and the people who once fought in the U.S. army for domestic freedom, are now fighting for full-fledged imperialism, as well as globalization on a scale that hasn’t been seen in a long time.
However, this is only the start of what he is protesting. When asked about his protest after the game, Kaepernick let everyone know that,
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said in an interview with NFL Media afterwards. “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.”
His protest is more so about domestic social issues rather than full-fledged imperialism in the Middle East. Although the controversy around “Black Lives Matter” has dwindled, Kaepernick has ignited a flame that could ripple through the hearts of many, and really make people question the way minorities are being oppressed in the nation.
Kaepernick stated that he will continue to sit during national anthems until he sees a change with racial profiling in the nation – particularly with police brutality targeted at minorities.
Given the numbers, this could be a long process. According to a statistical database offered by The Guardian, over 700 people have been killed by police in the USA alone in 2016, 82 of which have perished in August.
That means about 2.92 civilians are being murdered by police EVERY DAY in America, while 79 police officers have perished at the hands of civilians in the same time, meaning on average 2 officers die per week while on duty.
The violence definitely goes both ways, and although Kaepernick is protesting the lives lost at the hands of the police, I think his argument would have more of an impact if he protested gun violence altogether.
Police risk their lives to protect civilians, and they deserve more recognition for what they do. The thing is, the shadow cast over the police force due to trigger-happy officers, shields more of the credibly things they do for society – and it’s a damn shame.
What does this all mean for America, and what is my opinion on this story?
Colin Kaepernick has re-awoken the prejudicial beast that lingers beneath the consciousness of every American.
He has stirred up a range of emotions from onlookers, and I think it’s a good thing.
I think it’s healthy for people to explore their position on pressing issues such as racism and police brutality, and Kaepernick, being an NFL quarterback, almost forces you to do so, whether you live in the country or not.
I think his protest is equally passionate as it is powerful. He has used his influence as an iconic sports figure to demonstrate that he, a member of the oppressed minority (as some will observe) is unhappy with the way things are in the country, and for good reason.
He has forced Donald Trump to respond, and in my opinion, Trump embarrassed himself once again with his rashness, and inability of accessing the situation.
By telling Kaepernick to leave the country, he is demonstrating a clear lack of resiliency, as well as a non-existent care for the first amendment.
If I could speak to Trump one on one, I would tell him that the first amendment tops the list for a reason. America would not be deemed “the home of the free” if it’s people were not in fact, free. By telling Kaepernick to leave the country that so solemnly swore to protect him, you are not only showing your supporters that you don’t care about their opinions, but you are attempting to perpetuate fear in the hearts of your non-supporters, which if you were unaware, are substantial in numbers. I would tell Mr. Trump that he needs to rethink what kind of president he wants to be; a president that stands for what is right, or one that stands for something much less admirable, something that does not help make the world a better place, something that stems from hate, from ego, from a place that values money over people, power over unification, and greed over everything.
Say what you want about Obama, he handled this situation the way it should be handled. He did not get directly involved with the drama, yet, he expressed that Colin Kaepernick has the full right to use his first amendment – all without taking any sides.
So what does this all mean for America? The answer to that question may have to wait, but one thing here is certain; people will unite, people will become more active in this issue, because just as Mr. King said, nothing unites Americans like sports, guns, race, and politics.