Friday, September 2, 2016

Stand Up America — for the Right to Sit!

A little over a year after the dispute over one regional icon vanished, an argument over another American — albeit more respected — ritual is thriving. 
Despite controversy, QB has
not turned his back on America.
Shortly after Flag Day 2015 came and went, a debate that clearly represented enduring racism, not to mention treason, erupted. The banner in question was the standard of the Confederacy, which waves on or near buildings in several southern states. Some refused to remove it, even as it brazenly flew alongside the Stars and Stripes, but a few skirmishes eventually led to the removal or relocation of some Johnny Reb banners.
A new storm is now brewing over respect for America’s national anthem. In this case, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick remained seated during the Star-Spangled Banner at a pre-season football game last weekend to protest oppression of black Americans and other minorities. No sooner was the incident disseminated by news and social media, than an outbreak of controversy escalated.
Kaepernick’s modest dissent basically focused on concerns that time and again confront urban neighborhoods. While double-standard pigskin enthusiasts readily excuse players accused of rape, domestic assault and drug use, even ex-cons, they reacted like they wanted to stone the biracial 2013 Super Bowl-winning quarterback who refused to stand.
Rather than examine the essence Kaepernick’s dissent — supported by ample statistical evidence opponents would be prudent to rally to reverse the injustices of our judicial and law enforcement systems, not passionately object to a single protest.
When certain incidents infuriate them, blacks are admonished to protest peacefully. Well, that’s precisely what Kaepernick did! He didn’t shout or scream. He didn’t physically attack anyone. He didn’t violate laws or randomly vandalize property. He kept his mouth shut and calmly remained seated. That’s the model of civil disobedience!
As a matter of fact, Donald Trump’s message of dissatisfaction to “make America great again” — which recently spotlighted black communities, boldly displayed on campaign hats, unites supporters. Yet, they seem to be among those most upset over the quarterback’s passive action, while they applaud Trump’s negative attitude.
In an interview published as the controversy snowballed, Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Adding, “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”
Adversaries obviously do not comprehend Kaepernick’s gripe that, regardless of their improved status in the last 50 years, blacks in America are imbued with a 300-year history of slavery, servitude and segregation.
Those who object to the quarterback’s “lack of respect” are almost certainly unaware that, though it is rarely violated, the NFL policy for players on standing during the Star-Spangled Banner is not mandatory. Will all those promoters of patriotism and Monday morning quarterbacks now boycott games until it becomes compulsory? There’ll be a December heat wave in Green Bay before that ever happens.
Love of country should be evaluated by respecting and valuing our freedoms, not symbols or icons. The revival of “love your country or leave it” mentality is as hollow today as it was when it condemned Vietnam War dissidents decades ago. Furthermore, it shows a lack of understanding of the First Amendment, which plainly sanctions such action. Sometimes it seems those who disagree with protesters misinterpret constitutional amendments, merely to satisfy self-serving partisan needs.
More importantly, since it is particularly lacking in the current presidential campaign, all sides need to respect the right of free expression, whether or not you approve of the opposing opinion.
Despite what some Americans may think, the Star-Spangled Banner is not about honoring veterans. The national anthem honors values of equality and justice for all, for which America stands. When those ideals are not upheld or are violated, which Colin Kaepernick and others feel occurs too often, sitting is a valid form of protest.
Kaepernick explained to reporters that his protest was not to disrespect veterans. Though he sat during the national anthem, he said he “has great respect for the men and women that have fought for their country.”
Take a left to enhance freedom.
All things considered, freedom means you can dispute actions and opinions, but don’t force others to live by your personal beliefs.
Symbols and gestures often become signs of respect and devotion to a cause, however, no laws should mandate proper respect for them. At the end of the day, standing or saluting is executed according to one’s conscience, not any degree of patriotism.
Keep in mind that a key lesson for youngsters is to stand up for oneself. Colin Kaepernick learned that lesson well verified when he remained seated.