Sorry In Advance

Hello dear reader(s)!

I apologize, but it seems once again that I must enter the political arena after my happy little moratorium thanks to the idiotic responses to Colin Kaepernick’s protest over the treatment of people of color.  The response from some of my ultra-privileged white friends (I’m white too) has been the straw that broke the camel’s back on whether I should keep them in my life.  I wouldn’t unfriend over this alone, but this was just the last in a long line of racist and ignorant positions some of the people who once were my friends (but have only been social media acquaintances for years anyway) have taken.

The difference between our country and some other countries is that our country allows criticism of our country.  

I am sick and tired of the people I know who have never experienced the systematic racism thinking that our country is beyond reproach.  I am sick of these same people failing to see that the flag that means so much to them for the opportunities that have come from this country isn’t going to mean as much to those who have been systematically denied those opportunities.  I am sick and tired of the people who do not understand that this country is not perfect, has never been perfect, and can only be a more perfect union when people stand up (or sit down, as the case may be) to make it better.  I am sick and tired of people thinking that people of color in the public eye must keep out of politics and stick to performing like trained animals for their entertainment, instead of recognizing that the people like Colin Kaepernick are people who are entitled to their opinion and have every right to use whatever position they have attained through their talent and hard work to amplify their voice.

And I have to be honest here, if I were a person of color, I can’t really say that the flag or the anthem would mean shit to me either.  When your country uses your ancestors as slaves, then keeps them from voting, from attaining an education, from getting a good job, and from living anywhere but the shittiest neighborhoods legally until just a generation or two ago…why should the flag of that country be revered?  When the country finally attempts to get rid of the laws that openly discriminate against people of color due to the Constitution but then replaces those laws with a discriminatory drug war, enforced disproportionately in the neighborhoods where minorities are heavily concentrated due to those laws that allowed housing discrimination until the drug war took place to keep them there…why should the flag of that country be sacred?  When schools in those neighborhoods are allowed to crumble as the richer, whiter neighborhoods get brand new schools, making it even harder for the people born into those neighborhoods to get out…why respect the flag of the country that engages in that?  And when those neighborhoods have no infrastructure, no opportunities for a legal economy, police who at best are ill-equipped and reactionary trying to deal with it, and at at worst are downright racist murderers…why should you love that country and the flag it represents?

And don’t even get me started on the false belief that sitting down in protest during the national anthem is somehow disrespectful to veterans.

Veterans who supposedly fight for what that flag represents should understand that the whole point of fighting for this flag is that we are one of the few nations on this planet that allows our citizens to criticize it.  Otherwise, what is the point of fighting for it?   For the imported Chinese goods you can buy?  For the McMansions?  For the NFL?  For what?  They say they fight for freedom.  Well then, put up or shut up.  This is the very freedom they fought for.

And if you really want to go there, we can talk about 70 years since a war was actually fought for our freedom.  We can talk about our economic and imperialist invasions.  We can talk about the ridiculous sums of money that go to the military for invasions into countries that just cause more problems while taking money away from the things that could actually help level the playing field for our citizens.  We can talk about the economics of perpetual war, and who is actually profiting.  We can talk about our outrage over what Assad has done to the people of Syria, and how ISIS is even worse, and how that is bullshit when we turn a blind eye to the systematic, state-sponsored violence against our own people.  We can talk about how if our veterans can’t handle someone sitting for a song, it doesn’t bode well for them being able to handle someone trying to kill them on the battlefield.

Of course, the people throwing a fit over Colin Kaepernick’s protest are conservative.  The very people who love to run around and shout “Freedom of Speech!” anytime anyone calls out their racism, sexism, or other bigotry.  The ones who shout about political correctness anytime someone tells them it isn’t cool to use the N word.  This is blatant hypocrisy.  He sat down to make an important point, and is vilified.  They shout their hate and when called out on it point to their beloved and misunderstood First Amendment.  Hypocrites.

You can call him a bad quarterback (although I would love to see you do better, armchair quarterback), you can say his team sucks (I do not like the 49ers at all), you can say he is overpaid.  But if you call him un-American, you have no idea what America is supposed to be about.

He sat down to during a song you don’t even know the words to, to make an important point about our failure to work toward what the flag should represent.

And until we start trying to live up to our ideals and what the flag is supposed to stand for, I will sit too.

Featured image by Mike Morbeck.

 

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Author: Josh Wrenn

Cancer survivor, wanna-be artist, musician, author, and all around good guy.

28 thoughts on “Sorry In Advance”

  1. I enjoyed this post. Whether I personally agree with his actions or not, means absolutely nothing. We must stop this incessant need to control other people’s freedom of speech, in all forms. We must stop seeing someone’s actions as being a personal affront to us, and instead, simply allow their actions to speak FOR the person. If that makes the person seem like less of a valuable human being to you, fine…However, being so enraged with his decision that it prompts mass media hysteria…ridiculous. He intends to have his actions stand for his beliefs, and we need to allow him (and everyone else for that matter) to do so.

    This should go without saying: I am not referencing actions that physically harm another person.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, the last line should go without saying. I agree with you that we need to stop trying to control what people say. We can dislike them for it, we can not want to support them, but the man is getting death threats, which is not free speech, and may get cut over the controversy even though he broke no NFL rule.
      (If he got cut because he isn’t good, that would be different.)

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Josh:

    As a naturalized citizen and a minority, I will admit that I am personally conflicted.

    On an intellectual level I absolutely agree with you. We do not have Freedom of Politically Acceptable Speech or Popular Speech…it is Freedom of Speech. Period. End of discussion. He (and everyone else) has the right to express themselves as they see fit. You are also right that our Veterans have fought and sacrificed for that very right, so it is not “unpatriotic” in any way. It would be unpatriotic to stand there silently and accept social injustice.

    The only caveat I have to that is morally we should not be engaging in speech that is harmful or abusive (such as bullying or derogatory comments about a persons sexuality). I will never stand or agree with that.

    With freedom comes acceptance of the responsibility (and consequences) of your actions.

    However on an emotional level I personally disagree with his actions. Having not been born in the USA and having been able to travel extensively internationally, I realize that however flawed this country is, I have been afforded more opportunities and freedoms than if I lived anywhere else. No matter what may be going on socially I will always personally show respect to the flag and this country because of those opportunities that I fully took advantage of through hard work.

    Finally I am personally moved by actions and not impressions. When one is in a position of social, economic or political power (such as athletes, business executives or politicians) I feel that if you are going to make such a stand then you also need to use your position to contribute to positive change. Volunteering your time for at risk youth, assisting with a charitable foundation or donating to an existing foundation would be some examples.

    Saying “I disapprove” and then nothing else is an empty gesture at best and an insult at worst.

    He may be doing this, who knows?! I just point it out as a personal perspective since he (specifically the media) has not indicated anything other than the gesture at the games.

    At the end of the day, the media and everyone else is blowing this out of proportions. He is a man. Making a stand. He has the freedom to do so. That is the “ideal” that this country was founded on.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Yes! He had ever right to protest as he did. That is the beauty of our country being able to say, “No, I don’t agree,” and will draw attention to what someone believes is wrong. As someone stated above though bullying/hate speech is where I draw the line but he broke no laws, and peacefully protested. Not a thing wrong with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautifully said. You reminded me of my uncle who served for years in the navy and was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked. He said to me one day, “I didn’t fight for the flag, I fought for what it represents and that includes freedom of speech, even if there method of speech is to burn the flag. Someone who burns the flag in protest is an idiot, because it’s not a way to win someone over to your cause, but if we locked people up for being idiots, the outside world would be an empty place.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree burning it is idiotic even if the symbolism of it being unclean makes perfect sense, it isn’t helping your cause.
      And yes, can’t lock up all the idiots thankfully, because I’ve been an idiot plenty of times!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my.
    I stand always for the flag, pledge, anthem, veterans, etc. but where you and I and our too-liberal-why-don’tcha-work-for-the-ACLU views meet, is that it is the right of all American to NOT do those things, and in fact to burn that flag in protest.

    Also, football is bleh. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, and I would never get upset with those who do. I WANT to be at a place where I believe our nation is once again working toward the ideals the flag is about, hopefully we get there again.
      And yeah, I don’t really like American football all that much anymore either.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. As a die-hard niners fan, I’m torn on this (especially bc I hope Gabbert can pull out some footbally goodness where the Cap has failed). I do like that our country allows for criticism and it’s truly ludicrous to us ‘Muricans that there are places where it’s not allowed. Can you imagine not being an individual? Not being allowed to speak up when your conscience is screaming at you to do so? Ludicrous!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I personally don’t thing Gabbert is the answer, and I think Cap could play for an organization that respects him. Getting rid of Harbaugh will haunt your team for a long time.
      I just think if he loses his job, it should be for football, not for being an individual as you said.
      Substance>symbols.

      Like

  7. It’s especially poignant when you consider that the full lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner (USA only sings the first verse because we have short attention spans & lose interest over patriotism when it delays some sporting event) speaks about slaves not receiving any refuge & how “freemen” will be granted all this glory. (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star-Spangled_Banner)

    I mean, Thomas Jefferson himself spoke repeatedly about not blindly following anything – even G-d – & encouraging Americans to question everything. We imbue the founding fathers with all this wisdom… why not listen to them? (Sorry, just finished a biography on T.J. that I thought was fantastic. I like to bring him into conversations. LOL)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s really the only reason I read this biography (well, that, & I have heard fantastic things about the author, Jon Meacham) – I think Jefferson spoke to the ideals he thought man could reach. I learned, through this book, that while he spoke & strove for the ideal, he understood that good would have to do.

        I’m planning a blog full of quotations from the book that I enjoyed. Good to know at least one person might enjoy reading it. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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