There “he” goes again—generating another divisive wedge issue in our country! In Alabama on Friday night in his campaign speech for a Senate candidate and known racist, Trump sought to energize his base by debasing the National Football League (NFL). Trump chose to address the issue surrounding NFL player Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the National Anthem. Using perhaps the most inflammatory language we have ever heard from a President of the United States, he called on owners to get the “son of a bitch” off the field and say “You’re fired!” (Direct quote of President). While speaking, he made the motion with his hand of sticking a knife in someone and twisting it. Further, he encouraged a boycott of the NFL. You may have felt pride for your President. I felt disgust.
Trump’s apologists say “this isn’t political” and it’s about “respect for our flag.” I beg to differ! Trump’s motives for bringing this issue up at this particular time is purely political. Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling incident happened in September, 2016. One year ago! Why dredge up this old news now? The NFL had things well in hand. Kaepernick was fired and has not been able to find work since. A metaphorical knife was stuck in him and twisted. In other words, he has been “black balled.” Why now? One, Trump created this issue at the rally to anger his fervent supporters and motivate them to vote for his candidate. He desperately needs a win. Two, Trump’s method of operation is to divert our attention away from matters that he does not want Americans to dwell on. He is losing! We are on the verge of nuclear war with North Korea, we are on the verge of losing health care for millions of Americans, and the Mueller investigation is closing in on him, his family, and close associates. Yet, he has us arguing about the etiquette of protesting.
LOST IN all this hate speech against NFL and NBA (Stephen Curry), is WHY Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel during the National Anthem. He said he was protesting social injustice and the large number of Black men shot by police officers versus White men. At the time of Colin’s protest, there had been a spate of police shootings. This was a non-violent, peaceful protest, and I submit those actions were as American as standing when the National Anthem is played. Kaepernick was bringing attention to the plight of Black people in America and that right was bestowed upon him by the Constitution, just as it was to you and me.
PROTESTING does not mean you are not patriotic. When I think of protesting, I think of the Boston Tea Party. Were those men unpatriotic? I think of Rosa Parks, John Lewis, Martin Luther King, and many other patriots. Historically, people leading the fight for social justice and equality were first hated, then revered. In other words, THEY were on the right side of history. Perhaps that will be Colin Kaepernick’s place in history.
THERE IS ONE person that I know is not, and never will be, on the right side of history—Donald Trump. The job of a President is to unite us as Americans, not divide us at every opportunity. Instead, his mission seems to be “divide and conquer.” This is a black/white issue. If you are black, you probably see this as a noble deed by Kaepernick to bring attention to inequality. If you are white and never experienced inequality, you probably think like Trump. Then there are people like me, who are white but believe we still have a lot of work to do to bring social justice to all.
AS AN ASIDE, there is a third verse to the National Anthem that we don’t sing and there’s a reason for this. This third verse celebrates the murder of slaves in the name of our flag. I do not know if Colin Kaepernick knew this when he took the now infamous “knee.” However, it’s a good thing to know as you pass judgment on Kaepernick.
A YEAR AGO, when I saw Colin Kaepernick kneeling, I thought he was praying. Taking one knee is the way men pray. Trump has made it clear that “taking a knee” is a bad thing. Like other words in our language, Trump has forever ruined them for us—like his over-use of the word “great.” Or, “huge.” “Tweet.” And, “Rocket Man.”
SPEAKING OF Rocket Man, I learned a new word from him last week and I’m going to use it. Sunday, I was heartened when I heard all the negative comments by NFL players and owners regarding Trump’s comments. While NFL players were either kneeling or with arms locked in protest against the vulgar, bombastic words used by Trump, he tweeted out, “Great solidarity for our National Anthem and our country. Locked arms good. Kneeling bad.” Really? Yes, Rocket Man, Trump is a dotard.