When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand up for The Star-Spangled Banner before Friday’s preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, he knew his action would stir controversy. Based on statements made this weekend, it’s clear that the former Super Bowl player meant to expose the hollowness in meaningless patriotic gestures made at a time of intense national division over race and police brutality. He may not have realized, though, that simply staying seated would expose the hypocrisy of the faux-patriotic pro-Trump set.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told the NFL’s official media outlet. “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.”
The conservative Twittersphere is predictably in an uproar over Kaepernick’s statement, and its media outlets outraged.
— R J (@KataAndKumite) August 28, 2016
— RNR California (@RNRCalifornia) August 28, 2016
Colin Kaepernick is the angry, bi-racial, raised-by-white-people he hates, ungrateful, privileged Barack Obama of the sports world #tcot
— Jeannie-ology (@jeanniology) August 28, 2016
Donald J. Trump’s strange rise has revealed many interesting idiosyncrasies in the right, not least of which its proud disdain for America. From declaring our nation “weak and ineffective” to comparing it to a third-world country, Trump and his supporters revel in the supposed awfulness of Obama’s America. Which is, as far as I can tell, still America.
Breitbart, whose co-founder is now “CEO” of the Trump campaign, and which has been shamelessly hyping the testy billionaire’s campaign since the primaries, was predictable in its editorializing:
“He will make $11.9 million guaranteed this season in the country that ‘oppresses black people,’” wrote Breitbart’s Daniel Leberfeld of Kaepernick in a piece praising New York Giants guard Justin Pugh who disagreed with the Niner’s political stance. “Pugh loves America. Kaepernick doesn’t seem to share that love right now.”
FOX News’s Fox Nation aggregated an AP wire story about the incident with the headline, “49ers Multi-Millionaire Backup QB Kaepernick Refuses To Stand For National Anthem Because U.S. ‘Oppresses Black People.’”
The memes came fast and furious. Of course Kaepernick’s actions were simply the antics of a spoiled multimillionaire and nothing more, because rich black people aren’t oppressed! And there are black people that are rich, therefore oppression is a myth. Kaepernick would be better off using his wealth and platform to sell muscle supplements, headphones, and luxury cars.
The very same day that Kaepernick took a stand (no pun intended), Maine’s governor–and Trump cheerleader–Paul LePage (R) explained at a press conference that “people of color or people of Hispanic origin” are “the enemy,” and should be shot at.
“Look, a bad guy is a bad guy, I don’t care what color it is. When you go to war, if you know the enemy, the enemy dresses in red and you dress in blue, you shoot at red, don’t you?” LePage said. “You shoot at the enemy. You try to identify the enemy. And the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority right now coming in are people of color or people of Hispanic origin. I can’t help that. I just can’t help it. Those are the facts.”
Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.
The pro-Trump conspiracy theorists over at The Conservative Treehouse, meanwhile, are putting two and two together and coming up with five. They’ve managed to tie the protest to Black Lives Matter and Islam, finding a Jezebel in Kaepernick’s fiancée, Nessa Diab, a personality at New York’s Hot 97 radio station. Her purported “BLM/Islam” activism, they imply, could lead to another San Bernardino-like attack by the troubled couple.
The Gateway Pundit thinks that ESPN is a “left-wing social justice warrior network” because one of its guest talking heads said out loud that Trump’s presidential campaign and the Black Lives Matter movement may have inspired Kaepernick to sit through the national anthem.
All of these right-wingers in an uproar over a professional football player’s political speech. I guess the only guy allowed to disrespect America these days is Donald Trump.