America or North Korea? Let’s Be Clear About the Differences. (NSFW)

September 2, 2016

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So, I honestly had no plans to weigh in publicly on the Colin Kaepernick situation. However, a colleague recently asked for my opinion as she was hearing a lot of people in her circles talk about what a traitor and vile human being he is and she wasn’t quite sure how to respond. She asked my opinion and I know you didn’t, so feel free to scroll on by if you don’t care to hear it. After all, it is just my opinion.

Now I haven’t spent my waking hours scouring the Internet for the latest on greatest on this issue because 1. I’ve got other things to do and 2. I’m not sure why, in America, this is even a story. But, since it’s been impossible to escape the peppering of posts, blurbs and soundbites wherever I’ve looked the past couple of days, let me address a few things I’ve heard –

What he did is unpatriotic.

Exactly what did he do to signal he is unpatriotic? He never said he hated America. I don’t personally know him, but I venture to believe he appreciates all of what living in this country has afforded him as an NFL star. If I heard right, he said he couldn’t, “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” I’m no more inside this guy’s head than any other of the thousands of people who have weighed in, but what I hear in that statement is not a hatred of this country, but a criticism of an issue for which he believes we can do better. If you don’t believe his perspective on racism is valid, that’s a whole other issue.

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He should be kicked out of the NFL.

For exactly what? He was in compliance with an NFL policy states that players are, “encouraged to stand for the National Anthem, but not required.” You have your right to believe that players SHOULD stand for the National Anthem, but if you have a problem with those who choose not to, I suggest taking that up with the NFL to make it a requirement.

NFL: Players are encouraged but not required to stand for national anthem

This shows a total disrespect and disregard for veterans and service members.

As a veteran, I’m more offended by any efforts to suppress the democratic freedoms I signed a contract to give my life for, if/when called upon. No, you might not like his form of protest. No, you may not like or even believe in why he did it. But the fact of the matter is this country was built on the freedom to express dissenting views and lawful protest (and sometimes unlawful protests like sitting in at ‘Whites-Only’ lunch counters and dumping tea in the Boston Harbor). Remember that? If we believe that people should be taken out back and shot or ostracized from society because they don’t express their patriotism the way YOU do, then how does that make us any different than North Korea? That’s not the version of democracy I served to preserve and many other veterans share that view. #VeteransForKaepernick

U.S. Veterans Explain Why They’re Standing With Colin Kaepernick

Veterans come to Colin Kaepernick’s defense

He’s rich and lives a charmed life, he’s got no right to complain. He’s not oppressed.

Heaven forbid, if we followed that logic, philanthropy and activism in America would be dead. If those who have a platform and have visibility aren’t the ones speaking out, who else should? You may not go to a football game to engage in political or societal discourse (ok, most of us don’t go for that), but just because athletes are in uniforms doesn’t mean they stop being the same people they are with the same causes they believe in off the field.

These athletes have used their platform to make political statements

He shouldn’t have brought his teammates into this by choosing to make a stand during the game.

I can buy that one, sort of. By choosing to take a stand during the game, while on the clock for the 49ers, they didn’t have a choice as to whether or not it would now become all of their issue on the field for every single game. As a former (way former) athlete, I can understand them not appreciating having one member of a 52 man roster be the focal point of every game. At the same time, Kaepernick said that this [racism] is bigger than him or the game. He’s right in that regard. These issues may not be your issues during the course of any given game, but the issues in the streets don’t stop just because a referee has tossed a coin in the air.

As a proud American and military veteran, I will always stand during the National Anthem, it’s in my DNA. Does that mean there aren’t things about this country that I don’t like and think we can do better? You better believe it! Does that mean I hate America? That the most absurd thing anyone who actually knows me could ever say about me. It’s just the opposite – I criticize because I care. That’s who I am, but everyone’s not me. I thank the God I believe in that I live in a country where our diversity is more than okay, it’s actually what makes America great.