What defines being American? Is it the pursuit of justice and freedom? Is it demonstrating pride in one’s country? Or is it about finding noncontroversial ways to be patriotic? The issues facing Americans today about being American concern the actions and rhetoric coming from the celebrity culture that is perpetuated by a 24/7 news cycle, and this constant recycling of news is actually anti-American in actions and rhetoric. Whether it is the rhetoric of Republican nominee Donald Trump questioning the Americanism of everyone around him or the sitting of San Fransisco 49er Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem, there seems to be a lot of outrage in this country, most of it being downright outrageous.
Colin Kaepernick is the most recent victim of the 24/7 news cycle. Kaepernick has decided to sit or kneel during the national anthem until racial injustice changes in our country.
“Yes, I’ll continue to sit,” Kaepernick told the media. “I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”
What’s interesting about his statements is that he’s basically arguing that America is not a perfect country, and much of the country has been hard on him for saying those words. Twitter lit up with many middle Americans calling him the N-word. Many question his patriotism as well. But before I tell you my take, what I find ironic is that the same people claiming that his “America isn’t so great” idea is boo-worthy, are the same people cheering Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” speeches. Can’t Kaepernick’s words fit into the narrative that Trump’s people are soaking up? Isn’t he basically arguing that he wants to see America great again too?
While I would still stand for the national anthem, and love this country, I do understand his take. He simply sees his celebrity as an opportunity to showcase his beliefs, however unpopular. And that’s all this is, unpopular expression. While true Americans don’t want to see their country disrespected, what Kaepernick is doing is the most American thing he could do, which is to express his frustrations and then move on.
What frustrates me is that he is getting a far worse public slaughter than NFL players who beat their significant others or high school sports stars getting set free after raping two girls. Why is this action so hated?
According to the New York Daily News: ” ‘In my career, I have never seen a guy so hated by front office guys as Kaepernick,’ ” one general manager told Bleacher Report, which cited another executive who claimed he’d resign before hiring Kaepernick.
The Daily News went on to add, “Another executive declared Kaepernick is the most hated player since Rae Carruth. Of course, Carruth was convicted of plotting to murder his pregnant girlfriend in 1999.”
How can those two different acts connected on any level? A lot of this stems from Trump’s anti-anything that isn’t “us” mentality and because Americans like to be outraged by the least important issues. Should he stand for the national anthem? Probably. But how do his actions affect us? They don’t. He’s just a 28-year-old guy trying to make a point. He murdered or beat no one. He simply decided to be unpopular.
I heard conservatives argue that he should be punished. That’s very cultlike, if you ask me. No one wants him arrested, but a lot of conservative radio talk-show hosts want his head on a stick. The problem with that plan is that it will backfire with conservatives when they claim, in Hillary’s presidency, “This is not my country anymore.” That philosophy is what is driving the hated NFL star.
Being American means not being afraid to go against the grain. I’m not a fan of his actions, but I can respect his intentions and desires to pursue freedom and justice. In 1955 Rosa Parks sat down too. She was hated too. But her sitting down sparked a conversation. Hopefully, Kaepernick’s stunt can inspire some to rethink what it means to be American and not just a blind patriot.