“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods, and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.” – Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, December 1776
The United States of America has a race problem. There is a definitive double standard at work in all aspects of our daily lives. If your skin isn’t white, you’re either a tool to be manipulated and used by those in power, or you’re a problem that they need to handle.
Last week, Colin Kaepernick, star quarterback for the San Francisco 49er’s, chose not to stand during the playing of the national anthem to protest the treatment of black Americans. Namely, he was protesting the murders that seem to be committed every single day in our inner cities by law enforcement agencies gone mad.
For this act of personal bravery, many people, not all of which are right wing fanatics, have said he performed a disgusting, disrespectful act that was so unpatriotic that it borders on sedition. I want to drop some knowledge on all those that think along these lines.
First, what Mr. Kaepernick did was not disgusting or disrespectful. If you’ve ever bothered to take a civics class and pay attention, this is the very type of thing our nation was founded. Those Founding Fathers that everyone likes to laud for being noble men and free thinkers? They were a bunch of rebels, unwilling to live under the yoke of oppression. They chose to say fuck the system and rallied together against it when they felt they were being treated in an unjust manner.
Second, as a military veteran, I can say without a doubt that what Mr. Kaepernick did was about as patriotic as you can get. He exercised his rights, the rights that many men and women have died to protect. He stood for belief when he knew that there would be outrage and risk to his career and life. When we raised our right hands and said that oath, the defenders of your nation didn’t swear to protect a flag or a national anthem. We swore to protect and defend the Constitution, and all the rights it guarantees, so that every citizen of the United States of America, regardless of race, color, or creed, would have a voice. I, for one, could not be more proud of what Mr. Kaepernick did. It makes me feel as if what I fought for, what my brothers and sisters fought for, wasn’t a completely wasted effort.
The “patriotic outrage” that we’ve seen against Mr. Kaepernick boils down to one thing…he’s a black man standing up for black rights in a nation lorded over by white men who are not interested in being equal. If there was any interest in being equal, then the deaths of black Americans nation-wide would have been met with a furious thunder of anger from all corners, but it wasn’t. It was a sound bite on the news when it helped ratings surge. When people, like the Black Lives Matter movement, speak out, they are derided as trying to rock the boat. When the riots start because black Americans are tired of being gunned down in the streets by their so-called protectors, the popular refrain sounds like something from the Jim Crow era: “Negro go home.”
What happened to us as a nation? When did we stop fighting for the ideas that every person was created equal? I believe the answer is that we have become lazy and complacent. Instead of standing up for our ideas, we have abandoned the American Dream for crass consumerism and a comfortable home, where we can watch the news in comfort, free to comment on the barbarity of the situation while never lifting a finger to change it. We’ve become brainwashed to believe that we have no power to affect change. We’ve bought into the lies because it’s easier than standing up for something. We chose the status quo that routinely practices institutionalized racism. We chose the system that thrives on violence and death of poor, uneducated members of our society.
While our nation was founded on disobedience and a healthy disrespect for authority, let’s not put on rose tinted glasses and look at the past like we were a bunch of heroes in an Greek epic poem. Our nation, while wonderful in so many aspects, has done very little to promote the equality mentioned in the Constitution. Our founders were rich, white slave owners and very little has changed since then. We fought a war that nearly tore our nation apart, and we ended the horrid practice of slavery…or did we? If we look at it carefully, I think you’ll find that slavery didn’t go anywhere. It just put on a new mask. The new overseers wear badges and carry guns, and the new plantations are prisons. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the masters. They’re still white, rich, and powerful.
This is your wake up call, America. In case you haven’t noticed, things are starting to spiral out of control. Soon, whether you want to or not, you will have to choose a side and take a stand. This isn’t a simple matter that can be ignored. History has told us, on multiple occasions, that if we do not address the crime of inequality, that if we do not listen and act to change it, then the violence in our streets will only get
If this message resonates with you, then I beg you to do something. We can no longer tolerate the abusers of authority, the murders of our citizens, the mistreatment of minorities. As a great man once said, a house divided cannot stand. Now is the time for you to take a stand. Get out on the streets and protest. Volunteer your time to organizations like Black Lives Matter. Get educated on the issues. Do not be a mouse when we need a lion. It’s time to save our nation from those who would seek to exploit it. It’s time to take back our homeland from those that think so little of human life.