“Agree to Disagree, But I’m Probably Right:” The Colin Kaepernick Scandal

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Parker Abate, Columnist

My five housemates and I have a 3-by-5 inch American flag that stands on a table in the front of our house. The stand that holds the flag has one button. It triggers the national anthem when pressed. In the event that the button is pressed, my housemates and I stop what we are doing, stand, and face the other American flag that hangs in our living room.

We do not do this because it is funny but because we have an understanding of why we honor our flag as Americans.

Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, has sat down during the national anthem before every 49ers’ preseason games and does not plan to stop any time soon. Kaepernick has been outspoken about the “stand” he is taking.

The USA Today quoted Kaepernick. “I’ll continue to sit. … I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change, and when there’s significant change — and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way it’s supposed to — I’ll stand,” said Kaepernick.

Kaepernick is acting in defense of black men killed by police officers in recent months and years.

Before I begin expressing my disapproval for Kaepernick’s action, I will note that he is an American citizen and has the right to stand up – or sit down – for whatever he believes in. Kaepernick supporters have said all of those against his actions are being unpatriotic, that people  are coming down too hard on him for speaking his mind, that his free speech is being infringed. Don’t get me wrong, we do need change in our country. We need change in many more ways than one, but sitting down during our national anthem is not going to change what Kaepernick wants changed.

Kaepernick was also quoted about his  reason for sitting during the anthem. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Kaepernick is reacting as if our country as a whole oppresses people of color. Are there some bad apples in our country? Yes. Are there people who oppress citizens based on their races? Unfortunately, yes. These men and women, however, do not represent America as a whole. I’m pretty sure most Americans would agree with that.

The American flag stands for liberty. Does Kaepernick realize that the only reason he has the right to sit down during the anthem is because of the flag? The American flag honors those fighting each and every day for our freedom. We have so many issues in our country that need to be addressed, but the flag and what it stands for are not the reasons for our country’s problems.

Kaepernick has also said that his intent is not to insult the military, according to the USA Today. The flag and the anthem were and are meant to honor the men and women serving our country. The final line of the song is as follows: “land of the free, and home of the brave.” I interpret this as our country being free because of the brave men and women who fight for us. The men and women of the military who make it home get to continue on with their lives in the best country in the world. Kaepernick can say he does not wish to insult the military all he wants. But when he sits down during the song that honors our armed forces the most, he is insulting them in the strongest way possible.

The bridge to in a popular Zac Brown Band called “Chicken Fried” goes as follows:

“I thank god for my life

And for the stars and stripes

May freedom forever fly, let it ring.

Salute the ones who died

The ones that give their lives

So we don’t have to sacrifice

All the things we love”

The stars and stripes themselves do not make our country so special. The flag is, however, the symbol of our country. It represents the great United States of America. This topic is conflicting because I do realize that our flag represents our freedoms, and Kaepernick has the right to do what he is doing. But instead of taking a seat, or a knee, he could be speaking out and raising awareness for his cause in other ways.

Kaepernick also wore socks that depicted cops as pigs during a recent practice. Cops put their lives on the line for us every day. I believe a strong majority of policemen and women are not racist and do not oppress men and women of color. Police officers who serve to protect us do not deserve to be depicted as pigs. They put on a uniform every day just like Kaepernick does. They, however, don’t do it because they get paid a huge sum; they do it because they want to protect the men and women of this nation.

Sitting or kneeling during our national anthem disrespects the country we live in. The country that service men and women fight for. The country that allows Kaepernick to sit on the bench as a backup quarterback and make $19 million a year. We need change in our country, but I believe Kaepernick also needs a change in his actions. Respecting each other throughout this great nation begins with respecting the nation itself, and the red, white, and blue that we cherish so dearly.