Colin Kaepernick’s protest as American as the flag

Colin Kaepernick’s protest as American as the flag

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People who want Kaepernick fired have much in common with social justice warriors and campus anti-speech activists, and it's un-American. Former Longhorn and Green Beret Nate Boyer gets it right.

Image of Colin Kaeprnick licensed under CCO from “Pro Football Schedules” |
Image of Colin Kaeprnick licensed under CCO from “Pro Football Schedules” |

WASHINGTON, September 1, 2016 — Former Texas Longhorn and Green Beret Nate Boyer has weighed in on Colin Kaepernick ‘s refusal to stand for the national anthem. Boyer, in a Tuesday op-ed for the Army Times, wrote:

Even though my initial reaction to your protest was one of anger, I’m trying to listen to what you’re saying and why you’re doing it. When I told my mom about this article, she cautioned me that “the last thing our country needed right now was more hate.” As usual, she’s right.

There are already plenty people fighting fire with fire, and it’s just not helping anyone or anything. So I’m just going to keep listening, with an open mind.

I look forward to the day you’re inspired to once again stand during our national anthem. I’ll be standing right there next to you. Keep on trying … De Oppresso Liber.

Colin Kaepernick and the history of black patriotism

Boyer, who served in Iraq to defend Kaepernick’s right to sit through the anthem, takes a kinder, gentler tone than have the many critics who demand that Kaepernick be fired.

It is not unusual for people to demand sanctions against those who offend them. Proposition 8 supporters in California were subjected to harassment, vandalism, physical assault, blacklisting and loss of employment for participating in or contributing to the campaign.

Swastikas and graffiti were painted on the walls of churches that supported Prop 8, a Fresno mayor received death threats, and organizations were inundated with demands that employees who contributed to the campaign be fired. One website used Google Maps to allow activists to determine identity, donation size, employer, and residence of Prop 8 donors, while another allowed users to identify supporters who worked in their businesses.

Reports of campus suppression of political speech are commonplace. Invited speakers from IMF Chair Christine Lagarde to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to “Dangerous Faggot” Milo Yiannopoulos have either been shouted down or disinvited from their campus visits, and the student organizations responsible for inviting them have been sanctioned. College papers have been trashed and threatened with defunding for printing non-PC articles, professors subjected to secret tribunals, and the name “Trump” scrubbed from view at DePaul University as a potential “trigger.”

A performance of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” feminist agitprop par excellence, was canceled at Mount Holyoke because it was offensive to “women without vaginas.”


Trump visits Mexico, Clinton fumes

It would have been unsurprising under any circumstances that Kaepernick’s protest sit would generate outrage and demands that he be fired. The surprise is that anyone finds it remarkable. That he might have “triggered” veterans’ families or offended football fans was an unremarkable given.

Against the background of manufactured offense and outrage that is American politics, Boyer’s letter is a delight, and that’s a shame; his sentiments should be commonplace.

There is nothing outrageous or un-American about Kaepernick’s protest. It’s the most natural, American thing in the world. Nor is there anything outrageous about fans turning away from him and the 49ers to other teams. Nothing is more American than the right to protest and the right to counter-protest.

But also quintessentially American is Boyer’s message of tolerance. It’s an America we should like to see more of—on campus, on the campaign trail, in the media and in Washington.

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