This past Friday evening, prior to his team’s preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided, in an act of protest, not to stand for the traditional playing of the national anthem prior to kickoff. Kaepernick defended his actions with the following statement:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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 won’t go into the details of the type of responses towards his actions Kaepernick has received, but if you check out the comments section of any pro-Trump website or almost any twitter user that has the hashtag #TrumpTrain in their bio, you’ll be subject to some stuff that might even make the most hardcore Klansman blush.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with Kaepernick’s actions one bit, furthermore, I disagree with his reasoning behind his refusal to stand for the anthem. The idea that the Unites States of America, in 2016, is a country that “oppresses black people and people of color,” is a flat-out ignorant belief to hold.
That being said I find it somewhat ironic that many of those who are the most vocal in their disdain of Kaepernick’s stance are those who consider themselves conservative. What is so conservative about blind devotion to the State?
Had our Founders wanted a national anthem at the creation of our republic, would they have not taken the time to adopt one? It wasn’t until the 20th Century, thanks to the father of the modern progressive movement, Woodrow Wilson, that we even had an “official” national anthem.
Woodrow Wilson, the man who pretty much spent his entire life trying to destroy the dedication to natural rights and limited government that the framers put into our republic through our founding documents, is the man who spearheaded the effort to make The Star Spangled Banner our national anthem. Let that sink in for a moment.
Patriotism and love of country are not bad things, as a matter of fact American conservatism has always included a strong sense of both. What is alarming in recent years, particularly in this most recent election cycle, is the confusion of patriotism and nationalism, the latter of which goes against the heart of the conservative principles of individual liberty and limited government of which our republic was founded.
The 49ers organization issues the following response to their quarterback’s actions:
The National Anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.
They are absolutely right
If you disagree with Colin Kaepernick and want to show your displeasure with the 49ers and the NFL for not taking stiff action against his act of defiance by boycotting the team, the league or their sponsors that is also your right as well.
While I don’t hold the somewhat radical view that suggests that standing for the national anthem or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is designed to deprive one of individuality while instilling blind nationalism — I can’t in good conscience deny someone the freedom to refuse to stand, even if I find his reasoning repulsive.