San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is sitting during the national anthem to protest racism in America.
He has an ally in NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who’s no stranger to political stands.
The discussion of the nuances of patriotism is especially important right now, with Trump and Clinton supporters each righteously claiming ownership of the “most patriotic” label. Patriotism isn’t just getting teary-eyed on the Fourth of July or choked up at war memorials. It’s supporting what the Fourth of July celebrates and what those war memorials commemorate: the U.S. Constitution’s insistence that all people should have the same rights and opportunities and that it is the obligation of the government to make that happen. When the government fails in those obligations, it is the responsibility of patriots to speak up and remind them of their duty.
What should horrify Americans is not Kaepernick’s choice to remain seated during the national anthem, but that nearly 50 years after Ali was banned from boxing for his stance and Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s raised fists caused public ostracization and numerous death threats, we still need to call attention to the same racial inequities. Failure to fix this problem is what’s really un-American here.
Before reacting to Kaepernick’s protest, I suggest listening to him fully explain what it is and isn’t. Even if you’ve already jumped to a conclusion, it isn’t too late to hear his rationale.
Ideally, Kaepernick will force people to confront a few questions:
Is sitting during the national anthem an affront to American values? Is racism an affront to American values?
Which is worse? Which are you more angry about?