Some Say Colin Kaepernick is Unpatriotic. These Veterans Disagree.

Recently, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked a nationwide fury by making a simple, yet profound gesture before the start of a pre-season game by refusing to stand as “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed.

Many have venomously lashed out at Kaepernick, calling him unpatriotic and disrespectful to U.S. military service members. Everyone and their brothers have come out of the woodwork to weigh in on his protest. Some, like NBC sports analyst Rodney Harrison, have even gone so far as to question Kaepernick’s race, saying “he’s not black” (a statement Harrison has since apologized for).

Unsurprisingly, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has jumped on the vitriolic bandwagon, saying the NFL quarterback should leave the United States.

When asked why he refused to stand, Colin Kaepernick explained that he could not “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people,” citing the all too frequent tale of police officers “getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

This week, however, has also seen an outpouring of support for Kaepernick’s protest — perhaps, most notably, from veterans and service members, who have been using the hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick on Twitter.

Here is a sample of veterans’ tweeting in defense of Kaepernick:

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the outrage over Kaepernick’s action is that it has, arguably, stirred just as much (if not more) ire than the issues Kaepernick was trying to raise awareness about — the frequent killing of black Americans by law enforcement and the systemic racism they face in their daily lives. Kaepernick’s choice to boycott “The Star Spangled Banner” is particularly poignant when considering his message.

Though the anthem’s first verse is typically the only one performed, it has four verses, several lines from the third of which may startle some Americans:

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave

It is quite literally an archaic ode to American slavery; however, like racism in contemporary times, it is often ignored or conveniently forgotten — a minor controversy, by comparison, to an athlete making a peaceful protest for many, it would seem.

The attacks directed at Kaepernick also reveals another incredible double standard, especially when painted as a disrespectful display to the sacrifices made by American troops:

As @wmjehall points out, despite Americans’ quick rush to “defend” patriotism and honor veterans by lashing out at Kaepernick, there are much bigger issues facing our soldiers. At least 20 service members take their own lives on a daily basis — a deeply serious problem that hardly gets recognition.

Those in active service abroad are also frequently subjected to contaminated air produced by “burn pits” — the practice of disposing of waste of every sort with fire — despite multiple reports showing the devastating long-term health impacts.

And as has come increasingly into the public spot light, many veterans are being left out in the cold as the Department of Veterans Affairs routinely fails to provide essential services — like physical and mental healthcare — to those who return home.

If Americans showed even a portion of the incredulity they have directed at Kaepernick toward genuine problems – social issues that, arguably, defy the idealistic standards associated with the United States that many veterans themselves have made sacrifices to preserve — then perhaps Kaepernick would not have had to make his protest in the first place.

Photo Credit: Mike Morbeck / Wikimedia Commons

108 comments

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill11 months ago

He only wants attention! What no one seems to talk about is the fact that he was adopted by a white couple and was raise with "white privilege", what ever that is.

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Elaine W.
Past Member about a year ago

Kaepernick is exactly patriotic. The people who disagree are also asserting their rights but in a nasty way. USA is a democracy, not a dictatorship with punishment for lack of a particular symbolic action. Goose step anyone?

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Marie W.
Marie Wabout a year ago

Never did like the "wrapped in the flag" stuff.

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Nathan D.
Nathan Dabout a year ago

Good for him! Now I would like to hear how he fights injustice using that massive amount of money he earns.

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Brett Cloud
Brett Cloudabout a year ago

Amazing how generous people are with OTHER PEOPLE'S money! Remember, most RELIGions are happy with 10%.

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Brian F.
Brian Fabout a year ago

He makes 128 million each year, so he can do whatever he wants. However, since he really is concerned about racism, and inequality, which does exist, he should give his salary to black Katrina victims in New Orleans. A lot of houses for the poor could be bought for 128 million. I think these rich black rap artist who make millions should also donate their money for housing for the poor. It's everyone's right to protest racism and inequality that exist in the country, but when your wealthy like Colin is, you should also give your money away to the poor. That's what Jesus preached. Give all your wealth to the poor.

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Janet B.
Janet Babout a year ago

Thanks

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Brett Cloud
Brett Cloudabout a year ago

Just imagine some time in the future, where his actions are seen as another stride for humanity!

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Brett Cloud
Brett Cloudabout a year ago

Remember King? How upset people got with his NONviolence stance wrt civil rights?

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natasha salgado
Past Member about a year ago

I've no problem with his sitting. He did nothing wrong in my opinion. Expressing ones belief without harming another is fine by me.

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