Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I'm with Kap.

If you’ve never seen the movie Watchmen, the opening credits (which this scene was taken from) is easily one of the best done ones I’ve ever seen, which says a lot because I am highly addicted to movies! It’s a scene which illuminates the tragedy at Kent State where a peaceful protest was broken up with uncalled for military force. It’s also a great way to start a blog post where I will defend Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest.

I am very surprised (actually I’m not at all unfortunately) with the reaction that this protest has received. From people saying that he should be thrown out of the league for not standing for the National Anthem, people calling him un-American, saying he has no right to say anything because he makes so much money playing a game, and even bringing up his heritage as a half white, half black man, and those were the nicest of the things that people were saying!

But here’s the thing, for everyone who says that this protest is backwards, that he shouldn’t be disgracing the Anthem because it stands for everything he’s trying to fight for, you’re wrong. The National Anthem was derived from a poem from Francis Scott Key, a poem which ends with some pretty racists things:

"And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:"

What this portion of the poem is referring to, is the fact that the British offered to free any slaves who joined their forces (A promise they kept) and Key is relishing in the fact that they were able kill so many of the traitorous slaves (which in itself is a pretty big oxymoron).

But, what we celebrate is the first part of the anthem and many, many years ago (actually only in 1931) this was declared to be our National Anthem which was to represent everything that America stands for, and what we’ve recently found out, there is a heavy emphasis on the “Stands.”

So if I was a black man or woman, or heck if I had had relatives somewhere down the line who had been slaves, then I could see taking offense to this song, despite it being our National Anthem, but I think we all know that the slavery thing isn’t what this protest is about. What it’s about is the perceived amount of social injustice the black and other minority individuals and groups have to face every day. Something that is hard to dispute, and given the increased notoriety and exposure of the most recent, questionable shootings we have seen across all media (social, mass and all channels really), it is hard to dispute that there certainly is an issue that needs addressing.

Eric Reid joins Kaepernick's protest

So what happened after those shootings? What most people remember is the mass rioting and the call that all police officers are bad, and by rioting I mean they burnt shit down! And by all cops are bad, I mean some crazy bastards went after innocent officers and killed them, simply because they were wearing a badge (a badge which reads, “To Serve and Protect” even!). To say there was unease in this country is a massive understatement.

So some time passes, and Mr. Kaepernick has some time to think about all of these issues that minorities are facing, and as a professional athlete in arguably the most popular sport in the world (it has to be getting a little closer to soccer by now right?), he says that he can do what so many of those other people can’t or wouldn’t do. He can take a stand by taking a knee.

Now taking a knee was not his initial posture as I’m sure will be pointed out to me, he sat down during the National Anthem and the country went batshit (See how popular football is?). He is not a veteran protestor, he is a human being who saw some injustice and wanted to bring some attention to the cause and to do so in a nonviolent way. After the first initial backlash and his explanation, he has now started taking a knee rather than sitting, so that he can still show respect to the men and women who have fought and died protecting his right to protest.

That’s right people, those people that you are so concerned for, the ones who have fought and died for our freedoms, including the freedom of speech and the freedom to peaceful protest, those are the things they are fighting for! So when people say that Kaepernick and the others who have now joined him are un-American they are downright wrong. Other than a few people’s feelings, he is not hurting anyone or anything.

Kaepernick has been joined by players from other teams:
here opposite Brandon Marshall from the Denver Broncos

But there are people out there that say things like, in this country we stand for the national anthem, and if you don’t like this country than you can leave!

But those are truly the un-American people; they don’t get what this country is about at all. We disagree all of the time, and I guarantee that a lot of the people who have been vehemently bashing Collin Kaepernick and the rest of the NFL protestors have also spent plenty of time bashing the President of the United States of America, which seems like it would be un-American as well, but once again that would not follow suit with what this country was based on, and the rights and freedoms that men and women fight and die for every day. You get a say in the conversation, and you may be chastised for it, but not punished by law unless you are threatening or violent.

A lot of people are also bashing Collin because he is no longer the starting quarterback for his team and they say that he is just an attention grabber, that he’s simply doing this to be in the spotlight. I also have a problem with this. The man was the starting quarterback for a team that appeared in the Super Bowl just a few short years ago. If the subject of the protest wasn’t so important to him do you think he’d really be drawing all this attention to himself and occupying the time with the media which could be spent on trying to win his spot back? Football obviously is not the most important thing on this man’s mind as of right now.

He’s a spoiled rich kid from a mixed race family. He hasn’t known the true troubles of the people he is defending and really shouldn’t get a say in it.

Right after 49 individuals were killed at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, I made a Facebook post stating that I was a gun owner, that I loved shooting and hunting, but that I felt that it was time to do something towards stricter gun laws. I said I wasn’t sure what we could do, but that it was time to start the conversation towards change. It wasn’t up a minute before I was being attacked for wanting to eliminate all guns. I had to double check what I had posted because I didn’t remember saying anything like that, but I was certainly being called out by several individuals.

Generally I’m pretty socially passive about these things. I might have an opinion, but I’m not going to voice it as I know that backlash for certain topics is flat out crazy (that’s right guys, you’re fucking crazy), but this bothered me as we had just recently lost all of these innocent people and it seemed like individuals were more concerned with their guns than with real human lives! Remember, I wasn’t saying anything about taking guns away, just stricter gun laws, or any ideas on how to work towards keeping the guns away from mentally unstable individuals…fucking crazy.

So I said screw this, I’m fighting the good fight here because idiots generally drown out the voice of the reasonable and I wanted my voice heard about working towards a better future with less gun violence. I matched every comment I received and even started commenting on other posts, kept stirring the pot to call out all of the lies people tell on subjects they find so near and dear to their own wellbeing. It was a strenuous task, and I’m sure I didn’t gain any friends by doing it, and the bottom line result from the whole thing was nil. Time passed and apparently our country once again forgot about gun violence as we’re so apt to do once the NRA and their enthusiasts get involved. Congress staged some sit-ins but then went on their scheduled break, so as most people generally thought may happen, we returned to the same shit, us just sitting back waiting for the next mass shooting to occur.

My point with my experience is this, I’m nobody. I’m just your average middle class Caucasian American who grew up in a good home and who writes silly thoughts on a silly blog. My stage is pretty small as I climb upon this soap box where we have about 200 people who once clicked the “like” button on our Page and I can also share my posts with all of my Facebook “friends,” many of which (like most individuals on Facebook) I have not spoken with or seen in years.

Now look at the stage the Kaepernick commands. The man sits down during the National Anthem and the next day the whole country and a lot of the world all of a sudden is drawn to this man and his message. It’s a big commitment, that little act of revolution.

And it shouldn’t matter if he’s black, white, both or something else. The Seattle Seahawks show of support for the message was without question on point. They stood in unity, not as a support strictly for the flag and against Kaepernick, but in unity for unity. What Kaepernick is fighting shouldn’t be a black thing; it should be a people thing. We should all be pissed off by the injustice we have now all been exposed to through police and anti-police violence, and an individual brave enough to stand up (or sit down, or kneel) in order to get the conversation started again should be heralded for his non-violent protest, which is an unalienable right of all people in a democracy.

I never thought I'd be a fan of anything Richard Shermann ever did,
but this show of Unity by the Seattle Seahawks was truly patriotic.

I stand with Kaepernick on this issue, because it’s an issue that needs to be addressed. It’s similar to why I made a stand for stricter gun laws. I live in this little utopian realm where when I see injustice, I feel like it’s my moral obligation to try and make it right if I have the power. In America we all get a voice, what we do with it is completely up to us.

So how will you use your voice? Will you sit and complain how this person is ruining your favorite past time by not standing during the national anthem (while you probably sit on your couch or easy chair watching the game), or will you respect the balls it takes to continue to kneel despite all the pressure he’s facing not only about his cause, but while trying to keep his job?

It is your unalienable right to disagree with me, but don’t try to say that what he is doing goes against America, because it is what makes America great, and look at that, we didn’t even need Trump to get us here!

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