Recently in the news, a football star by the name of Colin Kaepernick, began making headlines for something other than his football accomplishments. During the national anthem that start each football game, instead of standing with hand over his heart, he would either remaining seated or took to one knee.
Kaepernick told the NFL reporting arm in an interview. Here is a quote from that interview …
"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."
This raised holy hell with many people on both sides of the political spectrum. The news media, social media outlets and conversations between friends all thought this was one of the most appalling things anyone could do. (Well, there is burning the flag and stealing ice cream from a little girl, but I am not sure that is even worse.)
People stand at the playing of the national anthem for many reasons including it is just the customary thing that one does. But, the reason people are expected to stand is to show respect for the song and the nation.
Many liberals are standing (a pun intended) with Kaepernick. They support his actions as a way of bringing attention to Kaepernick’s claim of a promise not delivered to many people living in the country. Conservatives are either mildly sarcastic about Kaepernick or out raged that he could have earned so much from the country and yet show this astonishingly amount of disrespect to the country at the same time.
Also, recently, a 2-year-old photo of a wheel chaired old man trying to stand as President Obama entered the room surfaced. President Obama told him he didn’t have to stand. The old man said, but sir, you are the president. It is customary for a person to stand when the President of the United States enters the room. Not necessary for respect of the person, but for the respect of the office.
Again, different comments came from each side of the aisle. Liberals cheered, expressing their favor of Obama and how we should respect him and the office. I have heard some say that a few conservatives have said he didn’t have to if he didn’t like the office holder’s politics.
If the reader knows anything about this blog, you will know the blog supports consistency in most every action. We are to be faulted if actions for one person is allowed and yet not for another, especially based on political view point.
Here is a clear case of in-consistency from the left and maybe the right. Which is it, I ask, should people follow; custom and show respect or should they be allowed to pick and choose what and who they respect?
In Kaepernick’s case, the liberals are showing support of the football player’s protest because it is a big theme of the left’s agenda currently. So, it seems, anything that brings attention to that theme should be supported, regardless of the action. Even though, standing for the playing of the national anthem has nothing to do with Kaepernick’s reasons for not standing. It is only a customary action that shows respect for the county, not its politics or actions.
In the old man trying to stand for President Obama, the left; nearly exhausted at having to defend “their” president after being attacked for the entire time he has held office by the right, is showing support for this old man because of his respect for the office, to be read as showing support for Obama. If this old man didn’t like his politics and didn’t stand would the left still support his right not to stand?
My apologies to the left, but I just don’t think so.
What we have here is the collision of custom and freedom of expression. As a country we have to ask ourselves which trumps the other. If we stuck with custom all this time, women would still be home bound and African Americans would still be picking cotton among other customs. But, in each case, it took someone to break custom; a woman working out side of the home and an African American escaping his kidnappers and seeking freedom; to bring about some kind of change. In each case the freedom of expression won out and made a better America by breaking with custom.
While I will continue to stand at the playing of the national anthem and I will certainly stand if the President of the United States is present, and especially if it is President Obama, I do support those who wish to break custom to make a personal statement. Custom is a limiting and socially controlling belief.
Freedom of expression on the other hand, allows us to find a way to stand on our own.
All of this from just an ordinary guy, a millionaire football player.