Colin Kaepernick: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should…

When you begin to write a column for a publication, the accepted obligation of the author is to be interesting.  The Irish caution is:  “if you can’t be smart, be interesting, if you can’t be interesting, be funny”  Implicitly implied is don’t be incendiary, respect your readership, and above all else, don’t lose advertisers.  In the end, I suppose the Publisher mantra is “don’t be controversial”.  You know, don’t talk about abortion, religion, race, or politics.

I agreed to all but politics as routine readers know so well.    This will be the column that pushes that envelope.  I wanted it titled:  Colin Kaepernick is a #!?*+!  Knowing that title would get prohibited, I hid it here in the body assuming they wouldn’t proof read.  Thus, if you are reading this they didn’t proof.

In November 112 protestors were arrested in Oregon for shutting down the city in opposition to the election results.  Subsequently, we learned 79 of the 112 did not even vote in the election.  In my world, this alone should prohibit their right to protest.  Just think:  I am protesting the result of an election notwithstanding the fact that I didn’t vote in that election!!  Apparently, never mind that patriots gave their life for our right to vote.  

Well, here are my credentials for this potentially incendiary article:  I am the son of a disabled war veteran (Korea).  My father was critically injured by a mortar shell in combat; transferred to a field MASH unit, followed by a hospitalization in Osaka Japan, and eventually a transfer to the VA hospital outside of Chicago.

Due to those war injuries my father didn’t work the first six years of my life, and as a result, my early years were in public housing.  You knew the poor kid…but so was everyone else in the neighborhood.  Therefore, best of all, we didn’t know, thus, a hard, but happy childhood.  People determine if their faith is good or bad by relative comparison.  In my case, not only were we all in the same boat, but also didn’t know better boats existed.   In later years, my mother said:  “I didn’t have money to give you presents, so I gave you siblings”.
I grew up in a house with a father who grew up fatherless, and a mother who grew up fatherless-all war veterans.  Also, for me there are seven brothers and sisters a number of whom, over time, became military veterans.  I am the brother, brother-in-law, uncle, cousin, and son-in-law of military veterans.  

While the constitution’s first amendment guarantees the right to free speech, even a first year law student knows that right does not extend to the right to yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater.  Yes, the Supreme Court ruled that we can burn our flag under the protection of the first amendment.

However, wouldn’t such disrespect those who died for our right to do so?  Does “respect” govern or even guide anything anymore?  While I bit my tongue from podium after podium being baited into my opinion on Colin Kaepernick’s refused to stand for the National Anthem, I can hold back no more.  You see, when I picked up the last USA Today of 2016, there it was, in the headlines by Jarrett Bell proclaiming:  “Kaepernick Shows Best, Worst of 2016.”

“Best”, did he just say best??? Did my 1.5 powered cheaters deceive me?  This, the same Kaepernick who is protesting “whatever” by either sitting or kneeling for our National Anthem, while also wearing socks with police officer’s depicted as pigs.  He also proudly wears a t-shirt with Communist Dictator Castro prominently displayed.  The same Colin Kaepernick who did not vote in this election or, as records indicate, any previous election for that matter!  Quite a departure from our early patriot Nathan Hale:  “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country”.  

Yes, I acknowledge there is racial injustice, and we have many injustices in need of “righting”.  However, isn’t the first strategy to affect change to support and vote for those that will further your agenda?  How does one further his agenda by not voting and insulting our military veterans and police?  Yes, there are bad, unjustified police shootings for which there is no excuse.  Even good cops (also in my family) will tell you they want “the bad ones out”.

However, here is Kaepernick, adopted into a loving family.  They took him in, loved him, raised him, and presumably made sacrifices to support his pursuit of football.  Eventually a college athlete (University of Nevada), Colin enjoyed scholarship subsidies which eventually led to a $128 million dollar (with incentives) NFL contract.

I easily acknowledge, without a doubt he is a most gifted athlete.  Granted, he did donate his massive sneaker collection to the needy.  (This is sarcasm and also a true story.)  However, where in the world was baby Colin oppressed and, if he is using his podium to support those that are, how is insulting the national anthem-and with it the fine men and woman of the military-an appropriate strategy?  “The bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there”…is he even aware that those words are a firsthand account?  From the Civil War to the Spanish American War onto World War I and World War II, pride and respect ruled.

How about those World War II guys!  Indeed the greatest generation.  Picture being plucked from your high school or the family farm and weeks later jumping from a plane or an amphibian transport vehicle on the Normandy coast into a sea made red by the blood of your fellow soldiers (Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword).  Doing this, knowing that there were good odds you were dead.  At Utah, paratroops drowned in the Marshfield having been weighted down by their packs.  One soldier hung from a church steeple for two hours before being captured.  Omaha was the deadliest with 2,400 U.S. fatalities in one morning.  Juno Beach had better odds of being killed than not with fatalities exceeding 1 in 2. 

Anyway, you get the horrific picture.  We are losing this greatest generation, these World War II Vets at a rate of 700 a day and one of the final images of their life may be a spoiled, self-indulgent, overpaid, over-empowered professional athlete, disrespecting that for which they were willing to die.  On to Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Operation Freedom and so many more….Indeed, a nation who owes those veterans of every war a debt of gratitude, which first and foremost can be displayed by honoring our national anthem.  

Why didn’t the NFL invite a contingent from Walter Read Hospital?  Have them attach their prosthetics, extend the white cane with the red tip, breath into the straw to power their new legs better known as a wheel chair and have them stand in front of Colin Kaepernick for the national anthem… Now, that’s how you take a stand!  Just picture that optic.  Kaepernick, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  You are the low tide of my 2016 and let me respond with my first amendment rights, Colin Kaepernick you are a #!?*+. 

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.” —  Abraham Lincoln

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