Full disclosure: I’m a lifelong fan of the San Francisco 49ers. I went to Candlestick a few times and I named my dog after Joe Montana.
But make no mistake, this has very little to do with the 49ers — or football, for that matter.
I’ve received my share of criticism for my transparency regarding the shallowness of flags, national anthems and patriotism as a whole. I’ve never been Canadian-enough because I cheer for American sports teams while refusing to subscribe to the “bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada” brand of fandom. I’ve never been a fan of the Tragically Hip, I hate the snow, and I prefer the U.S. version of Big Brother.
My Canadianness isn’t the only part of me that’s been called into question over the years. What kind of Italian has never played organized soccer? How could I oppose “flagging” downtown after a World Cup victory? Also, my nonna would throw a slipper if she knew that I choose Ragu over homemade pasta sauce.
The thing is, there’s no official barometer of patriotism or nationalism. More importantly, no one on the planet is equipped to be judge and jury when deciding what makes you a “real” Canadian.
I’m a citizen. I pay my taxes. I’m a real Canadian.
My grandparents immigrated from Italy — where they were born. My background is “real” Italian.
Like-wise, Colin Kaepernick is a real American. In fact, his actions are as American as it gets.
The 49ers quarterback has decided to protest the oppression of black people in the Unites States by sitting during the national anthem before each game.
His decision was met with… well, the response was predictable.
— Funk Flex !!!!! (@funkflex) August 28, 2016
Professional sports teams have exploited the military for years; as a marketing tool and PR machine. How many of these flag and anthem lovers boycotted those leagues and refused to buy tickets?
It’s ironic that Kaepernick’s actions are being called disrespectful to veterans and the military. The same vets and military that fought to preserve his freedom to protest?
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is apparently oblivious to irony:
“I think the important point to make here is that flag symbolizes, represents the freedoms that you have the chance as an American to exercise. So sitting down for that, that is a blatant disrespect of the freedoms that that gives you. Like it’s an oxymoron that you’re sitting down, disrespecting that flag that has given you the freedom to speak out.”
Brees may also be oblivious to the meaning of oxymoron.
Then, of course, the talking Cheeto chimed in on the debate.
— ABC News (@ABC) August 30, 2016
Donald Trump took a break from constantly criticizing America to tell Kaepernick he should move instead of constantly criticizing America. The Trump-irony doesn’t end there, of course.
Trump: your lives are terrible Kaepernick: our lives are terrible Trump: well if you don’t like it then you should just leave then. — mike mulloy (@fakemikemulloy) August 29, 2016
Flags and anthems are symbols. If both changed tomorrow, would it affect your perception of the armed forces?
Both the American Pledge of Allegiance and the Canadian National Anthem have been altered from his original state to include the mention of God. Why is that alteration not disrespectful? I suppose the narrative depends on your agenda.
It’s been nearly 50 years since Muhammad Ali refused to fight on behalf of the of United States in the Vietnam War.
Ali cited his Muslim religion and unwillingness to defend a country that mistreats black people.
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality”
If you’re going to burn a Kaepernick jersey, you better be willing to rip up your Ali posters, as well.
Then there’s Kaepernick’s lucrative salary, which is being used to argue that being wealthy puts you in no position to complain.
Kaepernick’s $114 million contract is really keeping him down… pic.twitter.com/zJNQq85XXA
— We Need Trump (@WeNeedTrump) August 29, 2016
When poor people protest racism, they’re thugs and hoodrats. When rich people protest racism, they’re spoiled brats.
I suppose only middle class people of colour have earned the right to protest against racism?
Colin Kaepernick is a millionaire athlete with an outlet to be heard, and he’s taking full advantage of it. He’s a staunch supporter of Black Lives Matter, he’s spoken out against police brutality, he’s defended the military against government mistreatment, and he’s involved in multiple charities.
His actions go beyond a seated protest.
Kaepernick does have a history of basking in the spotlight and it’s fair to question his motives. But ESPN’s Stan Verrett may have said it best: “Let’s pay as much attention to the substance as we do to the symbols”