The United States truly is a great country. In how many other countries can a backup quarterback make $19 million a year? Still, this did not stop San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick exercising his right as an American citizen to disgrace himself by refusing to stand during the national anthem during a recent preseason game. Kaepernick explained his reasoning by saying, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” It is hard to take anybody who talks about “oppression” seriously while they wear a Fidel Castro T-shirt.
Colin Kaepernick’s stunt showed a complete lack of respect for what the flag represents and the men and women who have served to protect those values. Many of those service members being ethnic minorities. Kaepernick’s actions could never compare to what the 54th Massachusetts or Tuskegee Airmen did for their country. Both knew actual oppression and discrimination. The 54th risked death if captured and ultimately led the doomed assault on Fort Wagner in 1863. The Tuskegee Airmen were among the most successful bomber escort pilots of World War II who beat back the racial prejudices of the day by doing their job rather than participating in some publicity stunt.
Men such as Ensign Jesse Brown, the nation’s first black naval aviator, are what makes that flag worth standing up for, but Kaepernick disrespected all of them. Ensign Brown gave his life for his country, Colin Kaepernick is free to perform his sad, little, impotent protest because of people like Ensign Brown.
How exactly are people being oppressed in America today? The police shooting talking points do not add up under scrutiny. Other repeated signs of “oppression” are Voter ID laws, but a state issued or other forms of ID are not exactly oppressive, especially given that they are often free of charge. Nothing in America today compares to what was faced by the men mentioned above. You can not have a perfect country, because the people who populate that country are imperfect human beings. If people are being oppressed as Kaepernick says they are, why do some people risk everything to try to get into this country?
Colin Kaepernick’s justification is almost as worse as his actions. He and the rest of the people who repeat claims of “oppression” diminish actual oppression, both historical and modern oppression elsewhere in the world.
The national anthem before every sporting event from high school to the professionals is a time to remember the things bigger than sports. Every Sunday, “God Bless America” is played during the 7th Inning Stretch at every Major League Baseball game in the country. This is not because we are a bunch of jingoistic nationalists, but because as Calvin Coolidge put it, “The nation that forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.”
Unfortunately, this appears to be true for our friends across the pond. A disheartening Telegraph article from 2012 warns of what happens when a country seems to forget its defenders:
[British] Troops speak of their own visits to the US, where they discovered that military discounts are routine. US troops note how they are frequently bought drinks and meals, while it is commonplace for strangers to approach personnel in uniform and thank them for the job they are doing.
The British public, on the other hand, is reticent about showing such largesse (emphasis added).
The American people trust almost nobody and despise almost everybody at the current moment in time, but they still love and trust their military. That is why we stand for the national anthem. To honor those who have served and who are currently serving and the ideas they defend. Colin Kaepernick did not only disrespect the country that made him a multimillionaire, but the men and women who have defended that nation.