The bruhahaha over Colin Kapernick sitting during the national anthem was, to me, much ado about nothing. Like many people I did not know the 49er quarterback was African American (now the ‘fro does stand out – wonder if that is part of the protest).
At the time I did believe it was disrespectful to the country, the fans (who want to just watch a game and put politics aside) and for the NFL/49er organization (how many employers would tolerate employees making a political statement on company time?? – I thought). I changed my view as more people spoke up and spoke out about the issue. And the more unarmed African Americans were being shot and killed by police.
My thinking shifted from “its disrespectful to the country”, to Luke 12:36 and the parable of the servant which says, in part, “to whom much is given much is expected; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”
The voice of average every day citizens are muted. And those of poor blacks even more so. So it is incumbent upon those who do have a voice and a public platform, to make a statement for the rest of us.
I was further impressed, that Kapernick never made a spectacle about it. He didn’t sound like an idiot or someone who was just following what others were doing. It wasn’t until a reporter asked him about why he would not stand for the star spangled banner that it became a thing.
But now an outspoken justice on the Supreme Court has stepped into it. Not known for biting her tongue (see: President Donald Trump), the Notorious RBG has called the silent protest “stupid and disrespectful” but not illegal.
In an interview on Yahoo News, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, supreme court justice and author of “In My Own Words” a compilation of her writings, she took on the 49er’s protest…
“I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”
Having one of the so called “liberal” justice’s take that view surprised me. I thought she would, given the recent climate surrounding criminal justice, would give more deference to Kapernicks’ cause and nuance to her answer. But she said what she said.
The really interesting thing is, according to Vox, the quarterback has responded in a interesting way. In part…
“It is disappointing to hear a Supreme Court justice call a protest against injustices and oppression ‘stupid, dumb’ in reference to players doing that,”
“I was reading an article and it refers to white critique of black protests and how they try to de-legitimize it by calling it ‘idiotic, dumb, stupid,’ things of that nature, so they can sidestep the real issue. As I was reading that I saw more and more truth how this has been approached by people in power, and white people in power in particular.”
In reference to a congressman who called his behavior sympathetic to ISIS:
“There’s a lot of racism in this country disguised as patriotism,” Kaepernick told the Guardian in September, “and people want to take everything back to the flag but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about racial discrimination, inequalities and injustices that happen across this nation.”
“At the end of the day the flag is just a piece of cloth and I am not going to value a piece of cloth over people’s lives,” Kaepernick said. “That’s just not something I can do, it’s not something I feel morally right doing and my character won’t allow me to do that.”
I think that’s awesome.
UPDATE: Ruth Bader Ginsberg has since apologized for her statement:
“Some of you have inquired about a book interview in which I was asked how I felt about Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players who refused to stand for the national anthem,” she said. “Barely aware of the incident or its purpose, my comments were inappropriately dismissive and harsh. I should have declined to respond.”