Colin Kaepernick did not beat his significant other. Nor did he run dog fights and then execute the losing dogs.
All he has done is take a knee during the national anthem to draw attention to what he perceives is a wrong in America.
While one unjustified killing of anyone regardless of the color of the person shot and the color of the person pulling the trigger is one too many, I do not believe America’s police forces are rotten to the core when it comes to deciding whether they need to pull the trigger. Not saying that there aren’t incidents out there where law enforcement officers have crossed the line and need to be criminally prosecuted for their actions, but I do not believe it is a systematic problem and would argue that it is vastly overstated.
But then I am not Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick and the 49ers played in Buffalo on Sunday. News that he was going to start at quarterback prompted more than a few folks calling themselves 49ers fans to call Bay Area sports talk shows and express how they wanted Kaepernick to fail miserably because of his national anthem protest.
Where were they when Aldon Smith was practicing his own form of civil disobedience such as arrests for possessing an assault weapon vandalism, hit and run while under the influence, and other niceties? Then there was Ray McDonald’s disobedience issues that included pedestrian style infractions such as DUIs plus domestic violence and then sexual assault charges. You didn’t hear fans openly hoping they’d play bad for their indiscretions until such time as the 49ers dumped them.
The double standard says it basically it is OK to overlook criminal acts as long as players perform well for the teams you support but if they have the audacity to kneel during the national anthem as a form of passive protest you root for them to fail and take the entire franchise down as well.
What some San Francisco fans uttered leading up to the Bills game was nothing compared to what awaited Kaepernick in Buffalo. It wasn’t the booing or the chants of “USA! USA! USA!” in response to his passive protest that was disappointing. That comes with the territory. Besides it was nice to see a crowd before the national anthem started playing instead of simply doing the robotic standing before the first chord was struck to shout a spirited “USA! USA! USA!”
The line was crossed by a vendor in the parking lot of New Era Field that was selling a T-shirt that read: “Wanted: Notorious Disgrace to America” and featured a photo of Kaepernick throwing a pass while a bullseye was aimed at his chest.
The T-shirt’s message was quite clear.
Did the Buffalo Bills organization allow someone on stadium property to sell shirts with a similar sentiment after Michael Vick returned to the NFL to play for the Philadelphia Eagles after 21 months in the federal pen for operating an illegal interstate dog fighting ring on his property for five years including drowning and hanging dogs that didn’t do well fighting?
Kaepernick has told reporters he doesn’t understand why protesting by kneeling is regarded as unpatriotic.
To quote the man from Turlock, “I don’t understand what is un-American about fighting for justice for everybody.”
The problem lies within two words “patriot” and “respect.”
Kaepernick is indeed right that a patriot is a word reserved for anyone that fights for justice for others without hesitation. In that sense soldiers, police officers, civil rights activists, and even kneeling quarterbacks are all cut from the same cloth.
Soldiers go a step further and put their life on the line 24/7 without question to fight for justice for people they’ve never met. The same is true of police officers. And to be clear there are bad soldiers and there are bad police officers just like there are bad football players of which the 49ers roster in recent years has had more than its fair share of off the field and on the field.
Respect is something that is earned. Every man and woman — past and present — that has served this country to secure the freedoms and rights we enjoy real teeth deserve our respect. It is no secret that the American flag has exceptional meaning to a soldier.
That is not to downplay what the flag means to others that cherish and fight in other manners for the concepts imbedded in the Declaration of Independence.
Nor do I intend to imply that veterans, military or even the police have more rights than anyone else. I don’t.
I choose to respect the flag for a multitude of reasons not of which the least is the sacrifice of others that have gone before me whether they served in the military or in other avenues that made America possible.
Kaepernick could have chosen a better way to make his point given the reaction that is more focused on his extremely mild form of disobedience than the issue he wants people to focus on — which is his belief Blacks are being killed too often in confrontations with police.
And while it isn’t as vulgar as burning the American flag in protest, I get why people take great offence.
That said, people essentially advocating violence for Kaepernick taking a knee as a form of protest should ask themselves whether the America they speak of is the land of Stalin and Idi Amin or is the land of Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln.