Colin Kaepernick is going to continue sitting during the National Anthem. Of course he is being lauded as brave for this disrespect of America and her National Anthem. I have read a number of OpEds about how courageous Kaepernick is for his protest. I even read an article about why Jews should support Kaepernick – nothing incenses me to anger like ultra-left wing liberal Jews.
So allow me to wade into this issue and explain why Colin Kaepernick and the rest of the Progressive left is wrong on this.
I am not starry eyed about America. I love my country, but as a student of history I know about her faults. I also know about the history of the rest of the world and know that at every single point in American history, we have been more righteous and morally superior to every other nation during at the same era.
If you want to talk about American exceptionalism, you need to start with the American Revolution. The most startling aspect of the American Revolution was just how peaceful it was. Yes, America was born of war. But when the war was over, how many mass executions were there of Loyalists by Revolutionaries? How many mass graves are there of Tories slaughtered for their beliefs? The answer: ZERO.
Contrast that to the French Revolution, which started in 1789, the same year that the United States ratified the Constitution. The French Revolution ended with the Reign of Terror and mass executions under the guillotine. The Russian October Revolution brought about mass murder during the Red Terror. The Khmer Rouge of Cambodia committed a genocide of over a million people in the Killing Fields. Communist China came to power with a mass murder of 50 million in the Great Leap Forward. I could do this all day long and this post would never end. America’s tradition from colony to country by war is unique and exceptional in its complete lack of mass murder, torture, political reeducation, and dearth of civilian casualties.
Yes, America treated the Native Americans badly (to say the least), but as indigenous people go, the attempt to relocate native tribes and put them on reservations was mild and progressive for the time. I am not excusing what was done, but we need to see what the rest of the world was doing to see just how mild our abuse of the natives was in comparison. We don’t acknowledge the British genocide in India. We don’t talk about the British mass murder in Africa or British atrocities in general. We overlook the Belgian enslavement of Africans on rubber plantations, where if African slaves did not meet their quota of rubber, they would have their hands chopped off. The west has overlooked the crimes against humanity committed by Imperial Japan in South Korea or China.
Yes, Britain abolished slavery in 1833, before the United States did in 1863. But that only applied in Britain. Forced labor of Africans in the colonies and forced labor of Indians wasn’t “slavery,” it was indentured servitude, which was OK by British standards until the 1940’s.
Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter are, of course, focused on the treatment of African Americans. Democrats will state loudly and often that requiring a government issued ID to vote is voter suppression of blacks. If you want to see black voter suppression, look at the history of the Sierra Leone where the Revolutionary United Front would chop off the right (and sometimes left) hand of people who wanted to vote against the RUF warlords.
This is what voter suppression looks like:
The athletes of the Oppression Olympics never talk about the atrocities of Sierra Leone, or the Congo, or the Congo again, or the Congo for a third time, or the torture of white farmers in Zimbabwe, or the Genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda. Again, this list could go on for days.
Of course, liberals often threaten to move to Canada when a Republican looks like they are going to win an election. This is probably because Canada seems so nice and polite and progressive. They don’t know or care that the Canadian government engaged in treatment of aboriginal Canadians that is just as bad if not worse than how America treated the Natives. Canada also interred citizens of Japanese origin and did so until 1949, and then never paid restitution to them. Oh, Canada.
This is where this post goes from the academic to the personal.
I grew up in Miami. I attended an Episcopal high school. I was not the only Jewish kid there. There was a lot of us. Also a lot of Catholic students. Why? Because the high school I went to was a top tier college prep school with a reputation of sending its graduates to elite universes. The parochial nature of the school was second to its academic qualifications.
If a bunch of Jewish and Catholic kids going to an Episcopal school because it enhances the chance they will go to a good college doesn’t completely floor you, it is because you take American exceptionalism for granted.
Keep in mind that the Irish, Scottish, and English had waged a near continuous war since the 1550’s when King Edward VI made England a Protestant country, while Ireland and Scotland remained Catholic. The Troubles – violent uprisings by Irish Catholic rebels in Northern Ireland. part of the United Kingdom – officially ended in 1998, but are starting to heat up again.
The Thirty Years War was between Catholics and Protestants in Germany. French Catholics vs. French Protestants vs. French Huguenots was a series of wars that lasted for the better part of 500 years, on and off.
There is a whole Wikipedia entry titled: European wars of religion.
The question: does the wine and bread represent of blood and body of Christ, or does the wine and bread transubstantiate into the blood and body of Christ? Resulted in Europe tearing itself apart over and over again for more than half a millennia.
In America? Nope. That the Protestants of English descent haven’t massacred the Catholics of Irish and Italian descent in NYC is antithetical to the whole of European history.
By every measure, Catholic Massachusetts should have invaded Quaker Pennsylvania and conquered it. But they haven’t.
Of course, for us Jews, we should have been driven out of every state and massacred. But we haven’t. More than that, we have integrated into America and allowed to become successful. My grandparents own (now just my Grandmother) a delicatessen in Hallendale Beach, FL. Not just have our Catholic neighbors not try and kill us or forcibly convert us, they buy our food. Seriously. There is nothing more American than a Jewish deli catering First Communion. A bunch of Catholics sitting around on a Sunday eating bagels and lox.
This is why I love America. This is why Kaepernic should to.
For all the horrors of Jim Crow, and even the lynchings of Southern Blacks, the United States has experienced nothing in comparison to the violence, religions, and tribal warfare seen across Europe and Africa in the last hundred years.
Kaepernick, and his $114 Million dollar contract, is taking a knee on a field that from 1933 to 1962 wouldn’t have allowed him to even play the game, in a league that is now 68% black. It should be noted that the states which are lambasted to heavily for being irredeemably racist are also huge football states. The truly amazing fact that nobody ever seems to notice is just how much money is spent by these supposedly white racists in support of predominately black teams.
But if you understand America, if you realize that in their hearts Americans value achievement over anything else, it shouldn’t be surprising in the least. Unlike the rest of the world where professional athletes will fake injuries or just be outright unsportsmanlike to avoid contact with another player of a different religion.
Kaeperick himself should recognize how he benefited from American exceptionalism. Born to a poor white woman and abandoned by his black father, Kaepernick was adopted and raised by a white couple.
Kaepernick tired to justify his actions by with the statement: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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.”
Kaepernick has decided instead to show disrespect for the American Flag and the National Anthem, and in doing so, disrespect for America herself. This is where Kapernick gets it all wrong. Because American history is all about overcoming the tribal, ethnic, religious, and other identities that have torn the old world apart and uniting under the banner of the Stars and Stripes. By disrespecting the flag, he disrespects the notion of American unity.
The proper attitude should be “we should focus on bringing more of black America into the national conscience, so that black America doesn’t feel otherized.” Instead Kapernick looks at the American flag and says “that’s not my flag, that’ the white man’s flag.” That is a segregationist attitude.
The nature of American exceptionalism is that it’s not the we were ever perfect, but that we’ve always been better than everybody else at the time and that we continuously strive to be better than our past. All that we ask is that people throw off their tribal and sectarian differences and unite under the common cause of America. E pluribus unum.
The more Kaepernick and other players disrespect the American Flag, the more they demonstrate that there is Black America and a White America that can’t see eye to eye on anything. This is diametrically opposed to the aims of black activists like Martin Luther King, who wanted more integration into American society. They were successful precisely because they wanted the opportunity to be successful in and contribute to America.
A campaign to raise awareness of black issues by picking open old wounds and effectively saying the symbol of American unity does not apply to black (not to mention that in an era where Jim Crow is long gone, the Civil Rights Act is enforced, and the POTUS is black, using the term “oppression” seems a little histrionic) makes everything worse. It is divisive where it should be uniting.
If he legitimately belies that he should not “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people” than he doesn’t understand America’s history of coming together and EXPANDING rights under the banner of America.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” is an aspirational statement. Our Founding Fathers wrote those words for later generations to achieve. They set the bar high.
The future is to be owned by those of all races, who with the certain unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, unite with the common identity of American.
The American flag flies for all Americans. The goal is to make everyone born and naturalized within our boarders to be wholly invested in America.
Kaepernick seems more interested in sewing resentment and creating division.