Monday, August 29, 2016

Colin Kaepernick & The Inalienable Right of Dissent

When the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers chose to remain seated during the playing of the National Anthem last week, in solidarity with BLM and as a protest against the systemic racism and police brutality that has gone on in this country for far too long, he was probably well aware of the fact that he was putting himself in hot water. But he did it anyway.

Soon after, he was attacked for doing so. On Facebook, posts abounded with claims that it was hypocritical for a black man who makes $19 million a year to claim that "blacks are oppressed" in America. Many of the people casting such stones, ironically enough, are supporters of billionaire Donald Trump (or Drumpf, to be more accurate). It apparently fails to occur to all of them that if a black man cannot claim that "blacks are oppressed in America," simply because he happens to be a millionaire, then a white man cannot claim that the entire country is broken, corrupt, and conspiring against him, when it was in just such a country that that white man happen to become a billionaire.

This is to suggest that anyone who happens to succeed in this country is automatically disqualified from complaining about the problems in this country. Yet many of the same people who denounce Kaepernick for doing so because of his success, support a man who made billions in the very country he denounces with virtually every breath; one man chose to follow in the footsteps of Rosa Parks and sit down, and the other puts Morton Downy Jr to shame, and won't shut up. In fact, accusations by Tomi Lahren that Kaepernick  is a "whinny, indulgent, attention seeking, cry baby," are even more applicable to Drumpf.

As Lahren so glibly states in her rant, hey Drumpf, "if this country disgusts you so much - leave!"And as she drolls on and on, hey Drumpf, if this country that you do nothing but complain about is so bad, how was it so easy for you to make and run so many successful businesses? If the country really is so horrible, in other words, and if all the chips really are stacked against the Donald, as he repeated points out, how was he able to get so rich? 

Instead, the focus everywhere is shifted to say that it was disrespectful of the American Flag to fail to stand, for it is that flag, and all of the brave women and men who sacrifice so much to defend it, that afford Kaepernick the ability to sit during the national anthem. What those who attack Kaepernick likewise fail to consider is that freedom of expression can only be exercised most by defending those expressions that we like the least. 

Indeed, soldiers do not fight and die for people to stand for a flag, which any two-bit dictator can require of all those they chose to subjugate, but for the "freedoms" that allow a person to exercise their "inalienable right" of dissent.  For without that right, the heroic sacrifices of our soldiers count for nothing at all. But worst of all, those who attack Kaeperneick for exercising that right, only contribute all the more to making peaceful revolution impossible, as JFK put it, so they can make violent revolution inevitable.  Maybe that's why so many of them have been stockpiling weapons for so long.  

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