The San Francisco 49ers need to give quarterback Colin Kaepernick a permanent seat on the bench or a swift kick out of the door if he continues to refuse to stand for the playing of the national anthem. It’s as simple as that.
Debate is running rampant, with even President Barack Obama weighing in, but from where we sit, there seems little room for argument.
Kaepernick is a public figure whose example is on display for all the world to see. He represents the 49ers and what he does speaks as much about them as it does about him. And right now both represent disrespect for a country that has helped make him who he is today and helped pave the way for the successful and comfortable way in which he lives.
His decision to protest police violence by keeping his buttocks planted on a bench during the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner” is much akin to a petulant child allowing his lips to hang down in a pout when he’s told he can’t have his way. The action does nothing to alleviate the problem; in fact, it only exacerbates it — fueling anger and promoting disrespectful behavior over taking peaceful and positive actions to make a difference.
Kaepernick took a stand against police violence last Friday night by taking a seat, according to The Washington Post. His reason: “There are bodies in the street.”
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “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.”
Interestingly, Kaepernick’s deep convictions stop short of taking a stand that would impact him personally. He hasn’t refused to play football, one of America’s great sports, as a serious sign of his aversion to what is going on in this country.
While we, above most, believe in freedom of speech, and, despite our serious disagreement with extremist reactions like flag burning and riots that almost always end in looting and violence, we agree that, as Americans, people have the right to peaceful protest.
But when you become a public figure, whether in your small town or in the larger scope of life as an NFL star, those rights come with responsibilities, too.
For Kaepernick, those responsibilities include the example he is setting, one we don’t believe is a good one.
As a public figure, Kaepernick could do a great deal to shed light on the issues surrounding violence in our country, speaking out against it, mentoring black kids, working to forge relationships between black and white communities, police and the black community in areas where the violence has been so bad.
That, we believe, would be a more appropriate way to shed light on an issue that needs addressing. Refusing to stand for the national anthem and using it as a means of protest is extreme, disrespectful and unacceptable.