It seems that everyone has an opinion about Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem. Any quick google search of “Kaepernick” in the news feeds will reveal extreme opinions on both sides of the debate.
Some see him as a traitor to his country and condemn him in the strongest possible terms. Others support him and agree with his protest. And still others, do not agree with his protest but understand that he is simply exercising his right to free speech and expression as guaranteed by the first amendment of the constitution.
It’s funny, though, that those who are condemning him as a traitor are, usually, the same people who are the first to proclaim the constitution as being divinely inspired and absolute.
Strange how things work sometimes.
As for me, I will willingly take a knee with Kaepernick.
I have been silently protesting the Pledge and the National Anthem by non-participation for 5 years now. Why? You can read more about my protest Here.
It’s pretty simple.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that cares nothing for its people.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that actively denies the right of solemn franchise to many of its citizens.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that actively disrespects and discards its veterans.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that routinely sells its influence to the highest bidder or highest donor.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that harasses and guns down its citizens because of their race and color.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that will tax its middle class into poverty while giving the top 1% (ie. themselves) a pass.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that strives to keep the masses uneducated and deceived by making college education expensive and therefore unattainable by a vast majority of the populous.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that gives greedy corporations a pass on price gouging life saving medications to its people.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that has turned its back on God, whatever God may be.
What frightens me the most, is the anger heaped upon Kaepernick and those of us who agree with him or maybe think like him. It’s an instantaneous thing that seems to ignite with furious force.
"If you aren’t going to honor the flag then you'd better get out of my country!"
"If you aren’t going to honor the flag then I’m going to kick your ass."
It reminds me of a grade school game we used to play where we would change the words to songs to make them funny.
“This land is my land,
It isn’t your land,
I’ve got a shot gun,
And you ain’t got one…”
So on and so forth. Isn’t very funny anymore. Is it.
Those of us who conduct our silent protests by not standing for the National Anthem are well aware that there are consequences to not conforming to the nationalistic norms around us. That there are consequences to exercising our rights of free speech. We do not intend to demean or disrespect the sacrifices made by the men and women of the armed services. On the contrary, we hold them in the highest regard, we only want to make their sacrifices mean something by bringing awareness to the problems that the US has, and seems unwilling to fix.
The first step to fixing any problem is in recognizing that there is a problem to begin with.
Phrases like “The USA is the greatest country in the world,” “Land of the free and home of the brave,” and “The shining light on the hill,” are all denials of the problems faced by this country.
Maybe if we could let the nationalistic pride go for just a few minutes and humble ourselves enough to recognize that the USA has some significant problems, that we are no longer the shining light on the hill, and that we are not the greatest country on the planet, then maybe we could actually fix a few things.
And maybe, if we actually took some time to consider our votes, that we actually voted for someone instead of against the other. If we disregarded party and elected good people who would actually roll up their sleeves and work for the good of their constituents instead of the corporation with the largest check-book.
Maybe if we all worked for the good of the country instead of the good of ourselves, maybe we could relight that shining light on the hill.
Until then, I will sit through the national anthem and take the abuse from the flag wavers.