Monday, September 12, 2016

My thoughts on Colin Kaepernick: Patriotism, The Constitution and The National Anthem

          "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."  Abdul-Jabbar (Insulting Colin Kaepernick says more about our Patriotism than his-recommended read!)

             Wow, what powerful and true words are written above.  I don't know about you, but it seems like all I hear about on the news is how Colin Kaepernick and everyone else who is kneeling (or sitting, ..etc....) during the National Anthem in solidarity is unpatriotic.  People even go so far as to say that they think Colin should put his money where his mouth is and fix the problem (of social injustice).  Others say that they watch football for entertainment and don't want to be bothered by political agendas.  Oh and some coaches are coming out saying that they will punish their players if they don't stand...And a bunch of other stuff is being said.  

            Brandon Marshall, a player on my beloved Broncos team also took a knee a few days ago during the National Anthem and now is losing endorsements.  "Following his protest of the national anthem, Marshall said he's simply against social injustice, not those in uniform. "I'm not against the military, the police or America at all," Marshall said.  (read article here)  He's not going to lose sleep over the lost money, but....
          I don't get it.  First off, why are people, aka sideline quarterbacks especially, so quick to judge?  And also...  Because while it is a custom to stand during the Anthem, it's not really a requirement...or is it?  According to Wikipedia The Star Spangled Banner:
            Let's think about that some more.  Why do we stand and cross our hand over our hearts?  Is it to pay respect to those fallen protecting and serving us?  Is it just because it's a custom that we are to uphold?  Is it to show that we love and honor our country?  Is it to stand together as a nation despite its downfalls?  A host of other reasons?  .....Why?
           Our own President Obama said that Kaepernick was "exercising his constitutional right".  I tend to agree.  I mean, I stand for the flag and national anthem.  But I'm all for Kaepernick, and now others, using their voices (and platforms really!) to do otherwise.   
           I mean, let's also be real.  Is the National Anthem before a NFL (or other sporting event) game really the best time to protest?  Is it really the best time to do something that some many most every person in America (at least) will have an opinion on?  Maybe, maybe not.  But Colin Kaepernick is an American.  He is also an NFL player.  He also has the freedom to do (more or less) what he chooses. Obviously he's not the only one who feels like this is the way to do this protest.  And obviously, it's a non-violent one which seem to always be the most productive protests. And obviously, there really is a true issue at hand that Colin and others feel, far outweighs the potential consequences.
           "To not stand for the anthem is a choice. And even standing is not necessarily enough. Poor Gabby Douglas caught grief just for not placing her hand on her heart.
         Then my next question is, what is Patriotism really?  Wikipedia describes it as:
          Ok, so Colin Kaepernick and others have already come forward to say that they have nothing against our military and flag right?  So, one can only assume that this is their way of showing Patriotism by kneeling or sitting, they are showing that they have an emotional attachment so much to this country that they don't want to continue to see racial inequality anymore here.  
           In some ways, we have come so far in the last 50 of so years as a Nation and in other ways we haven't.  The Civil Rights Movement in the 50s and 60s made some necessary changes to our social system but there is still such inequality between races.  What can we do to make it better for our children and our grandchildren?

United States Code, 36 U.S.C. § 301, states that during a rendition of the national anthem, when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart; Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present and not in uniform may render the military salute; men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; and when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed. Military law requires all vehicles on the installation to stop when the song is played and all individuals outside to stand at attention and face the direction of the music and either salute, in uniform, or place the right hand over the heart, if out of uniform. A law passed in 2008 allows military veterans to salute out of uniform, as well.[48][49]

However, this statutory suggestion does not have any penalty associated with violations. 36 U.S.C. § 301 This behavioral requirement for the national anthem is subject to the same First Amendment controversies that surround the Pledge of Allegiance.[50] For example, Jehovah's Witnesses do not sing the national anthem, though they are taught that standing is an "ethical decision" that individual believers must make based on their "conscience."[51][52][53]
           So it is a custom to stand, which is customary to do.  (Custom:  a traditional and widely accepted way of behaving or doing something that is specific to a particular society, place, or time.)  But there are no consequences. (except apparently everybody adding their two cents and losing endorsements, etc...)  Basically,  it is up to the individual and their conscience, as it is our first amendment right to do it either way.

My hope that with this protest there will be more real conversations about what it is about, which is social injustice, and how to work together to fix it, than just what it is, which is a protest.

           I've done it several ways, as we all probably have. In the military, I saluted. Other times I've covered my heart, usually stood quietly with arms by my side and always removed my hat if I was wearing one.

          None of it means I was sincere, though I was. I was making no great statement about supporting America, though I do."  Bernie Lincicome (Whether you stand for national anthem or not, our flag is still there - another good read.)

Patriotism is an emotional attachment to a nation which an individual recognizes as their homeland. This attachment, also known as national feeling or national pride, can be viewed in terms of different features relating to one's own nation, including ethnic, cultural, political or historical aspects.  

          We can get the conversations rolling about social injustice.  We can talk to our friends.  Talk to our children.  Talk to others and brainstorm.  But you know what might be the best thing we can do?  Pray.  Yep, we can pray for our nation.  Pray for our leaders.  Pray for those oppressed.  Pray for our world.  Pray for guidance.  Because we live in a great nation, that although isn’t perfect is definitely in need a prayer.

           "It is hard in this climate to admit that we have a land that has privilege and utter disenfranchisement in the same place. By superficial and self-congratulatory standards, I am supposed to be the one who made it "out," by the looks of my resume. America, at its best, giving opportunity to a man of color whose father was not even born here. The Ivy-leaguer, the monied professional athlete, the awesome wife, the turbo dream job, the access to power circles, the ability to meet my favorite band. But yet I am still haunted and trapped at times by what race does in our country."  Doug Glanville (Kaepernick made me think about why I stand for the National Anthem-another good read too here)

I have the most, utmost respect for all of those who have served, are serving and will serve and protect this great, yet still imperfect, country of ours.  Thank you for all you do.  So thankful to live in America.  

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