The internet was distracted from Donald Trump’s latest distraction by the story of Colin Kaepernick, a professional football player who refused to stand up during the playing of the national anthem. He did it as a protest against America’s treatment of minorities because, as he said,
“…I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice, people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard and effect change,” the quarterback said. “So I’m in a position where I can do that, and I’m going to do that for people that can’t.”
Of course this has generated a lot of backlash from the usual flag-waving “patriots” who are burning his jersey in effigy and making threats against him in social media. I suppose it’s asking too much of them to appreciate the irony that their right to freely object to what Mr. Kaepernick did is what gives him the right to do what he did.
What is also ironic is that these same people who object so violently to Mr. Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the national anthem are the very same people who speak approvingly of “Second Amendment solutions” for candidates they don’t like or stand up and cheer for a presidential candidate who got where he is by telling them that America is broken and that the only way to fix it is to stomp all over those rights.
Former blogger and current Facebook friend Michael Spires reminded me of the words by Aaron Sorkin in his film “The American President”:
America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free.”
Tell me which is more of a threat to our country: the refusal of a man to stand up during the playing of a song, or the willingness of a lot of citizens to restrict the rights of others because they don’t like what they’re saying or believing?