This week, my Facebook feed has been clogged with opinions about Nike’s Colin Kaepernick advertising campaign. The outrage stems from his (and other athletes’) refusal to stand during the “Star Spangled Banner” during the past two football seasons. Many believe Kaepernick’s protest cost him his job.
Facebookers have invoked images of our military, our founding fathers, and other patriotic themes to illustrate how “wrong” Kaepernick’s, and Nike’s, actions were.
According to NFL.com, Kaepernick said in 2016 “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.”
Whether you agree with it or not, he made a conscious decision to take a personal action and deal with the consequences. Kaepernick’s intentions were clear. He wanted to make a public declaration of his position, and this is how he chose to do so.
Was this disrespectful to the nation in which he lives? Many think so, not because of what he said, but how he chose to bring attention to his position. Taking an institution like the national anthem to offer protest is “going too far” in many eyes.
Before we crucify Mr. Kaepernick and Nike for their actions, let’s look at another scenario, not all that different from this.
Following an outbreak of violence against law enforcement over the summer of 2016 and beyond, many wanted to show their support for those wearing a badge. An outpouring of messages like “We support our police,” and “we back the badge,” began popping up in cities all over the country.
Another symbol of support also came to the forefront. People began flying a black and white version of the U.S. flag with a single blue stripe across its center. From homes to publicly viewed buildings, these flags could be seen everywhere.
As a veteran, I can tell you this doesn’t sit well with me. The US flag, the outward symbol of our nation, has specific rules for handling and display — which are not to be taken lightly. However, I have not seen any outrage concerning this violation of patriotic protocol as there is in the Kaepernick case.
If one is inherently wrong, aren’t both? Are we judging one by his actions, and others by their intentions? Surely the hypocrisy of this is glaring.
As Americans, we are afforded the freedom to express ourselves, and deal with the consequences of those expressions. But before we sit in judgment over another, let’s make sure we are truly being just.