Kaepernick Protest Provokes Strong Response
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On August 26, 2016, the San Francisco 49ers took the field in San Francisco to warm up, preparing for the last preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. As they do before any NFL game, the National Anthem is played while an American Flag is held by Armed Forces members. However, the playing of the National Anthem for this game was about to become the most talked about one for a long time.
No, it wasn’t for the voice of the performer and they didn’t mess up the words. The protest was not taking place on the field, but rather on the sidelines of the 49ers’ bench. As the national anthem echoed through the stadium, 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick was not standing in a line with his teammates with his hand over his heart. In fact, he was not even standing. Kaepernick was spotted sitting on the bench while the anthem played.
When the story broke, there was very mixed reactions. There were the fans who were outraged, taking to Twitter and Instagram to upload videos of Kaepernick jerseys being set on fire and calling the athlete names. Then there were those who supported Kaepernick by honoring his First Amendment right not to stand for the National Anthem and praised him for standing up for his beliefs. His supporters say this sort of protest is exactly what the First Amendment exists to protect. When asked why he remained seated for the anthem here is what he said:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,”. He went on to state: “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Those who are disgusted by Kaepernick’s actions say he has the right to protest what he believes in but what about the millions of Armed Forces members that have died defending that right? His opponenets feel he is disrespecting those people. And what about those still defending it? Would Colin even have the right to sit down were it not for those brave men and women who go to work every day not knowing when they will see their families again?
Michael Garcia, a sophomore here at VHS commented on Kaepernick’s actions saying “I think that it is disgraceful that he did that because there are people out there fighting and dying for your country and you can’t even respect it and stand for our country’s national anthem?” He goes on to say “ I do not agree with him nor side with him.”
Meghan Yeates, a senior also voiced her opinion saying “I honestly think that if you live in America then it is your job to support our country and do a simple act like stand for the nation anthem. It doesn’t hurt to stand for a one minute long anthem of our country. I do not think it is right for him to kneel during it. So I would not defend Colin Kaepernick.”
I agree that as a citizen of the United States, Colin Kaepernick has the right to voice his opinion, but I also stand behind all those that fight for our country, so here is how I view the situation:
Currently there are 1,301,300 active military members and about 811,000 in reserve. The total U.S. Americans killed in all United States wars rounds out to about 1.1 million, not to mention the estimated 22 million veterans who are living among us today. People like my uncle who is a Marine Veteran and my other uncle and aunt who are still serving in the United States Air Force. Each of these men and women risked their lives to give us all the ability to go to school and say what we want and they give Colin Kaepernick the right to make $110 million on a six-year contract to throw a football around. The National Anthem and the American flag are symbols of America, no matter what your race, religion, or ethnicity. There are people around the world who are dying to get into this country that Kaepernick calls “oppressive”.
Kaepernick and other NFL players can continue to exercise his right to remain seated for the National Anthem, but they need to know that so long as they do so, there will be people who will continue to exercise our rights to disagree with their actions.