On August 26th 2016 San Francisco 49ers’ Quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to stand tall against an issue dividing our nation by taking a seat. During our country’s National Anthem Kaepernick did the unthinkable as a professional athlete and spoke on an issue that lies outside the world of his sport. By sitting down during the National Anthem, Kaepernick voiced his disappointment with how race relations have been handled in our country and vowed to continue sitting down until our country decided to take the proper steps towards solving these issues. Undoubtedly an admirable thing to do but what should have brought the country together in a nationwide discussion on racism and law enforcement has only further divided the country. Once again America is hiding from this conversation by creating another fictitious issue.
First off, let’s address the fact that Colin Kaepernick is not breaking any federal law by not standing for the national anthem. Sorry conservative non-profit group American Family Association, but the US Code says, “…should face the flag and stand at attention…” notice the word ‘should’ and not ‘must’ or ‘required’1. Because if it demanded us to do that then we would have no choice and if we have no choice then we have no free will which means no freedom and that kind of contradicts the entire first amendment. In addition Kaepernick does not hate the military and our country. After the game ended Kaepernick stated that the reason he is sitting in protest during the national anthem is because he is “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”2 This has nothing to do with treason or terrorism, like many news outlets are making it out to be, but protest towards the treatment of an oppressed group. So just to make sure that we’re clear, Colin Kaepernick has every right to do what he’s doing and his motives are noble. Now we can move on to the real topic at hand. Oh wait; apparently we can’t do that just yet because now the nation is patiently waiting to see what President Obama has to say about Kaepernick’s constitutional right to sit during the National Anthem. And what exactly did Obama say about Kaepernick’s constitutional right? Well President Obama want on record saying that Kaepernick is “exercising his constitutional right”3.
Did I miss something? Was everyone absent that day in Civics? Why has a simple protest gotten this far off topic? Is Colin Kaepernick being un-American by standing up for what he believes in, or is it more American thing to completely ignore issues on race?
Whether you believe there is a race issue in America or not is the real topic of discussion, which is what Colin Kaepernick deserves to be bombarded with. Not these news stories over the last two weeks about whether Kaepernick should be protesting and whether or not it is American of him to do so. Of course it’s American of him to question how things are being handled. So now the question is, is he on the right side of the topic of race relations? Well Megan Rapinoe from the U.S. women’s soccer team believes so.
On Sunday night in a game against the Chicago Red Stars Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem as a tribute to Kaepernick’s efforts4. As an openly gay female athlete, Rapinoe can relate to Kaepernick and stated “Quite honestly, being gay, I have stood with my hand over my heart during the national anthem and felt like I haven’t had my liberties protected.” Rapinoe is the only non-NFL athlete to join Kaepernick’s protest but has gained little attention for it. If things continue this way, Kaepernick’s protest will be seen as a sideshow and his cause will be mute.
So if an athlete peacefully protesting for what he or she believes in causes this kind of a witch-hunt and has their patriotism questioned then I have to ask, will the real American please stand up?
By ANDREW QUINTANA / Contributing Writer