Much has been made of the protest made by professional football player Colin Kaepernick. At the beginning of the 2016 season Kaepernick infamously exercised his American right of free speech by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest the treatment (sometimes leading to deaths) of African-Americans by law enforcement officers. What is frequently lost in the knee-jerk and often vicious condemnations of Kaepernick’s protest is the manner in which it was delivered and the message behind the protest. This was, by all measurements, a silent, dignified and non-threatening statement.
Kaepernick and many of the colleagues who later joined in the gesture have been condemned by many, most notably the president. Most of the hate-filled denigraters probably are not well versed enough in sports etiquette to recognize the significance of “taking a knee” in sports, which is exactly what Mr. Kaepernick did. Taking a knee in team field sports, especially football, is a sign of respect for an injured player from either team. While I’m not sure if Kaepernick meant it as a metaphor for America and our institutionalized violence against African-American males, to me it was a portrayal of an “injured” country ignoring violence against selected Americans.
Let’s be clear. A vast majority of our police officers are fair, hard-working public servants involved in a difficult and frequently dangerous profession. Unfortunately, there are some, in various parts of the country, who are poorly trained and lack appropriate supervision. In many of the reported incidents that resulted in deaths, the officers’ service revolver should never have been drawn, let alone fired. But what so many refuse to acknowledge, and what “Kap” and others involved in “Black Lives Matter” and other protest movements have been attempting to draw attention to, is the all-too-common double standard in which laws are applied and enforced.
An example of this dual standard is the approach law enforcement took with the white anarchism of the Cliven Bundy family and their assorted thugs and criminals who gathered with them in Nevada and Oregon to threaten federal marshals on federal lands. The Bundy saga is well documented and tells the story of outright criminal elements who openly cheated the system and threatened law enforcement officers with automatic rifles trained on these officers.
Consider the contrasts: Alone, unarmed black men selling bootlegged cigarettes on a street corner, jaywalking or simply turning their backs and continued walking away from an officer’s command, etc. all gunned down. The Bundy message is one of religious fanaticism and illusory interpretations of the Constitution. No shots were fired by law enforcement until one of the Bundy hooligans pulled a revolver on officers. But they were dealt with extreme care and caution, even though they presented a clear and present danger.
But what is really more mystifying is how those who have disparaged Kaepernick for his silent, respectful protest have given a pass to Trump’s traitorous public genuflection to Russia’s (Vladmir) Putin in Helsinki. Neither the flag nor the anthem is what is ultimately sacred. It is what they represent: “with justice and liberty for all.” Detractors, while condemning Kaepernick, seem to find nothing unpatriotic regarding Trump’s abhorrent behavior and subsequent lies undermining the very institutions which are charged with protecting our liberty. Again, the contrast is dramatic: One who is genuine, sincere and actually speaks up against injustice vs. the Liar in Chief. No contest!