Colin Kaepernick. You’d have to have been in a coma the last week to not have heard his name. Mr. Kaepernick is the NFL football player that decided he would protest “oppressed people” by sitting during the National Anthem.
Never minding what he considers ‘oppressed’, how he measures it, how he thinks his sitting during pre-game will be different than his sitting DURING game or how he thinks his protest will affect change – the pop-culture conversation has been all about Kaepernick and his decision to sit. And for how long.
I’ve mostly stayed quiet on this one save for a few face-to-face personal conversations with friends and neighbors. The usual eye-roll* is quickly followed with ‘pass the beer nuts’ and we move on. It’s the same thing. Cause de jour is being highlighted and is amplified by the media in an obvious method to stoke agita. I mean serious; who could care less about what Colin Kaepernick thinks about anything?
But then I have seen the trending or viral Facebook post on the topic authored by Jim Wright:
If Americans want this man to respect America, then first they must respect him.
If America wants the world’s respect, it must be worthy of respect.
Much more at the link – but this was the part that got me. Now, to be fair – I doubt that Mr. Wright expected his post to go viral. That being said, the moving back and forth between America and Americans is misleading and confusing. There are concepts that are unique to each – to America the Nation and then to Americans the Citizens.
The First Amendment chief and first among them. For example, you have no First Amendment Right in my home, nor me in yours. Don’t like my speech or religion? Force me to leave; you can.
But AMERICA can’t do the same.
So when Mr Wright laments Americans who want Mr. Kaepernick to respect America by first demanding they respect him – he’s off. His thesis has no logical continuity. America the Nation is not interchangeable with Americans. I am under no moral, or other, obligation to show respect to Kaepernick. And his respect, or disrespect thereof, America being predicated on such is ridiculous.
Here I do agree with Mr Wright:
The United States isn’t a person, it’s a vast construct, a framework of law and order and civilization designed to protect the weak from the ruthless and after more than two centuries of revision and refinement it exists to provide in equal measure for all of us the opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Yes. More or less, the United States is that. And if you don’t respect that, or feel that America is living UP to that, then sit. Or stand. Or clench a fist. Or turn your back. Or walk out.
Whatever you wanna do – do it.
And yes, THAT is what our veterans have fought and died for. The right to protest your government for redress. The privilege to offer speech, or not, free from lawful persecution. The right to agree – or not. To vote – or not. To stand at attention, or burn, the flag that represents the very freedom you are exercising.
To protest free from tyranny.
But it DOESN’T mean that you get to protest in amnesty of MY right to protest.
So, if Mr. Kaepernick wants to sit his entitled ass on the bench where he will earn north of $100 million dollars while doing nothing to *change* the conditions he’s protesting, that’s his journey. I haven’t seen anyone denying him that. I haven’t seen calls for his arrest, or his detention, or his forceful demand to stand by threat of State sword or gun. All I’ve seen is a massive and rather resounding protest of the protestor telling him that he’s a dumb ass.
America can’t tell Kaepernick to stand to, but Americans most certainly, and rightfully, can.
* This is in two parts:
- What is it about people who demand change without active participation?
- Does Kaepernick comprehend that by relinquishing the change agent within his own self he is only buying into the power structure he claims to hate?