Take a seat, Colin, and stay there

Published 9:34 am Wednesday, August 31, 2016

As a stout defender of the First Amendment, if Colin Kaepernick desires to make a political statement by refusing to stand during the playing of our National Anthem, then he has every right to do so.

The internet and Facebook lit up like a Christmas tree this past weekend after Kaepernick remained seated on the bench while his teammates, members of the opposing team, and I would assume the great majority of the fans in the stands all stood while the Star-Spangled Banner was performed.

Kaepernick’s actions, or lack thereof as I guess it would take some action on an individual’s body to rise from a seated position, came prior to the kick-off of a pre-season NFL game on Aug. 26 between his San Francisco 49’ers and the Green Bay Packers.

The move (or lack thereof) immediately embroiled the NFL player in controversy. He stated his actions were in protest of what he sees are wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States.

“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 quoted as saying to NFL Media in an interview after the game. “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.”

I would assume by that statement Kaepernick is referencing nationwide reports of police brutality against minorities, to include officer-involved shootings that led to death. We all shake in our shoes and cast a wary eye towards the law enforcement community when rogue officers abuse their power. We also know that the majority of law enforcement officers are on the streets are there to serve and protect all citizens, no matter their skin color.

So, with that in mind, was it worth it Mr. Kaepernick to “dis” America in all its glory …glory where the centerpiece is our flag and our Anthem?

If he wants to make a political statement about injustice, then so be it. Justice is carried out each and every day within our courts. If a police officer is found guilty of murder/manslaughter and the like, he or she needs to be treated just like any other facing a judge/jury for the same crime.

Perhaps a better stage for Kaepernick would be to personally attend rallies held to bring attention to racial injustice. Perhaps he could, like others who have joined a national movement to hold law enforcement officials accountable for their actions, dig into his wallet and fund community action forums that bring members of general society and law enforcement agencies together to work out their problems.

Better yet, perhaps Mr. Kaepernick could help fund projects aimed at making communities, especially those in poverty-stricken inner-city areas, better and safer by opening YMCA’s, more schools with good teachers, and/or other programs that teach children and adults of all lifestyles to become better citizens.

The possibilities are endless for Mr. Kaepernick to make his statement. And, as I mentioned earlier, while he retains the right not to stand and honor our nation, I would like to know what our flag and our revered anthem has done to him personally? What makes him want to “look the other way?”

What if the brave men and women of this nation leading up to the Revolutionary War had refused to take a stand and fight against the tyranny of England … would Mr. Kaepernick and other professional athletes of today be afforded the opportunity of making millions of dollars? What about the War of 1812 … when the Brits vowed revenge and in August of that year they invaded Washington, D.C., and burned the White House, Capitol Building and Library of Congress.

Their next target was Baltimore and Fort McHenry. There, Americans took a stand and “the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air” were witnessed by a man by the name of Francis Scott Key who scribbled down a few notes of what he witnessed … words that became our National Anthem.

Later, the Flag that Kaepernick refuses to acknowledge flew over battlefields on foreign soil in World Wars I and II. Again, without the brave efforts of millions of men and women in those two conflicts — to include my father in WWII — Mr. Kaepernick may now be a pro-athlete speaking German or Japanese.

I could go on and on about our Flag and our Anthem — including the dark days for all Americans following Sept. 11, 2001. Does he really understand the true meaning of oppression, as in what type of lifestyles would he and all of us lead today without those that fought and died under that Flag and that Anthem he refuses to recognize?

I question if Kaepernick is choosing to follow his constitutional rights for freedom of speech, or is more self-indulged with another fight — that of retaining his starting role as quarterback of the 49’ers? Coming off a dismal 2015 season and a bad start to 2016, it appears that Mr. Kaepernick may have a permanent seat on the bench.

CAL BRYANT is the editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.