Shut up already about Colin Kaepernick

Abdul-Jabbar: Insulting Colin Kaepernick says more about our patriotism than his

(Photo: Flikr)

I’m so done with this Colin Kaepernick “controversy.”

1) This is his First Amendment right. Get over yourselves if you want to deny him. People have died for our right to free speech. How dare you diminish that sacrifice for you not to feel uncomfortable? It doesn’t mean that he’s immune from criticism, but there’s something incredibly ironic to hear people complain about Kaepernick using his stature to take a stand.  Would anyone care if Colin, your local Starbucks barista, sat down during the Star Spangled Banner?  Does the money in his bank make him less a Person of Color?

2) He sat down during the playing of the National Anthem. That hurt exactly ZERO people. Where was the outrage for NFL players who beat their wives/girlfriends senseless, raped fans, got into car accidents while intoxicated, held vicious dog fights and killed puppies, or expressed racism, homophobia, sexism or other abject and un-American stupidities?

3) Do not for a moment think that it’s been missed within the African American community that standing up and protesting for equality has been criticized as being too confrontational.  As has performing in public, come to that.  But Kaepernick sits down quietly and that’s just as egregious?  Make up your damn minds.  Or could it be that the most important thing is to never make white people uncomfortable about their privilege?

While I’m on the subject of consistency, it also hasn’t passed anyone’s notice that the ones who are most offended by Kaepernick calling attention to things not being great in this country if you’re a Person of Color are the same people cheering on the privileged white guy whose entire presidential campaign is built on the country not being great for white people.

4)   “The Star Spangled Banner” is a stupid song. I’m sorry, but it’s true. It’s difficult to sing, glorifies bloody battles of the War of 1812 (not the Revolutionary War, which is weird to me.  If you’re going to use a song about battles to celebrate the country, shouldn’t it be the battles that created the nation?) and if you actually look at all the verses, celebrates either killing slaves or returning escaped ones to their masters:

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro’ the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

That highlighted verse– not commonly known and certainly never sung at sporting events, but nonetheless, still part of our National Anthem–references the tactic by the British Navy to appeal to Africans American slaves to fight on their side with the promise of abolition and freedom in victory.  It may have been a cynical ploy, given that slavery was still very much part of the British realm, especially in far-off colonies in the West Indies, but Key’s exultation promising revenge or death of those slaves should not be shrugged off.  This is the crux of Kaepernick’s protest–that the freedom and glory celebrated in “The Star Spangled Banner” does not–and never has–extended to People of Color.  Why should anyone honor that?

For my money, it would be much better to expend the energy trying to get another song named as our national anthem. I’m partial to “America, the Beautiful”  (especially as sung by the incomparable Ray Charles) but there are others that would be just as patriotic.  Here’s a radical thought: how about Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land“?  How that inclusiveness might make a Trump supporter’s head explode!

But in the meantime, leave Colin alone.  Or better yet, sit down with him, because “The Star Spangled Banner” is nothing to celebrate.