The Lynch Mob Has Come For Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers

Current quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick has drawn the ire of U.S. nationalists everywhere for his principled decision to stay seated during the playing of the National Anthem before his team played the Green Bay Packers on Friday night. By choosing to remain seated, the 28 year old was taking a stand against the police brutality against Black people and other people of color in the United States that is so prevalent, and he stated as much when asked about it afterwards. Predictably, American nationalists (aka ‘patriots’) of all ideological stripes have been swift to condemn him, calling for his immediate firing and demanding he pack his bags and leave the country. Most ominously of all, unnamed NFL executives have gone so far as to declare to the Bleacher Report that Kaepernick will never again have a career in sports due to his position. One executive stated that “90 to 95 percent of NFL front offices have blacklisted Kaepernick.” Another said that he didn’t want the quarterback anywhere near his team because “he’s a traitor” who “has no respect for our country.” “Fuck that guy,” said another. The executives insisted that Kaepernick is currently more hated in the NFL than Rae Carruth, who was convicted and imprisoned on conspiracy to commit murder of his pregnant girlfriend back in 2001.

Why would someone voluntarily take what on the surface appears to be a simple and harmless act – sitting down during the national anthem – when they know that doing so will likely result in their losing out on million-dollar contracts and endorsement deals in the future? The answer, according to Kaepernick, was that he was following his conscience. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” said Kaepernick.

“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.

I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people who are oppressed…

If they take my football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

A few days later he elaborated once more:

“There is police brutality. People of color have been targeted by police. So that’s a large part of it and they’re government officials. They are put in place by the government. So that’s something that this country has to change. There’s things we can do to hold them more accountable. Make those standards higher.”

Surprisingly, someone who wasn’t keen to jump on the bandwagon of hating Colin Kaepernick is 49ers coach Chip Kelly, who let’s just say is no stranger to controversy when it comes to racially disparate treatment of athletes on the field and off. Kelly says he respects Kaepernick’s right to his beliefs. Others, particularly those in conservative media, haven’t been so kind. First to express their outrage were the white racists of course. The feigned concern about the dangers of encroaching “political correctness” having been apparently thrown out the window with Kaepernick’s action, these fanatical nationalist patriots set the 49er’s jersey on fire and yelled for the athlete to “get the fuck out” of “our country” if he doesn’t love it. “You should never play another down in the NFL,” said one former “fan”. “Move to Canada,” he said. A host on a conservative cable network who shot to fame earlier this year for going on a racist rant about Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance said Kaepernick should “leave the country” if he didn’t appreciate it, saying he was a spoiled “cocky child.” Donald Trump, who never misses a beat when it comes to drumming up sentiments of American “exceptionalism”, echoed those sentiments. Other people logged on to Twitter to tweet “a picture of a wounded veteran holding himself up right in his wheelchair to the anthem, despite not having any legs.” This was nothing more than an obvious attempt to shame Kaepernick into conforming to patriotic ignorance. And while it’s true that the veteran in the image isn’t able to stand for the anthem as he would like, it’s also true that Oscar Grant, Ezell Ford, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and many others aren’t able to sit down or stand up. Colin Kaepernick sat in solidarity with them, as Shaun King noted in his New York Daily News column. Someone has to.

Even more incomprehensible than the obvious bigots in right-wing circles are some of the comments made by Kaepernick’s peers in the NFL. Victor Cruz, wide receiver for the New York Giants, said everyone should always salute the flag no matter what, regardless of “circumstances in the U.S. or beyond.” “You’ve got to respect the flag,” he insisted, “and you’ve got to stand up with your teammates. It’s bigger than just you, in my opinion.” Apparently he didn’t listen to a word Kaepernick said, as he clearly stated who he was making his stand for, and it wasn’t just for himself. Then there was Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan who stated, “You’ve got to look at the gifts that we have, the opportunity that we have to play a great game is through the men and women that serve our country” in uniform. Apparently coach Ryan wants us to believe that without members of the U.S. military operating in foreign bases all across the globe, invading countries and causing bloodshed, American football players would not be able to “play a great game.”

After the white racists collectively lost their shit, it was time for “respectable” people of color to lecture Kaepernick on the “socially acceptable” forms of protest. Jerry Rice was first up to bat, countering Kaepernick’s recognition of Black humanity with “all lives matter”, the condescending mantra that gets repeated every time someone insists that Black lives ought to matter in this country. Then there was former NFL player Rodney Harrison who told the media that Colin Kaepernick’s opinion is irrelevant because he “isn’t a black man”, a theme that has also been circulating in conservative media circles which refer to Kaepernick as a “half-white” football player who’s made millions of dollars and therefore has no idea what oppression is. (I’m not going to link to these conservative media sites because I don’t want to be responsible for driving any traffic to them.) Apparently it never occurred to any of them that Kaepernick could be fully white (which he isn’t) and paid a six or seven figure salary and still choose to stand on the side of oppressed peoples anywhere in the world, including this country. Was John Brown wrong to oppose slavery because he wasn’t a slave?

Support for Kaepernick’s viewpoints, aside from Spike Lee and John Legend, came from an unexpected place – Black veterans of the U.S. military – who started a wildly popular hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick. According to these veterans, they resented people attempting to speak on their behalf when they claimed Kaepernick “disrespected” them by choosing not to rise for the National Anthem (a song which by the way celebrates the slaughter of Black people in a little-known 3rd verse). The Black Army Ranger the Independent Journal Review chose to seek out as spokesperson for Black veterans did not share their view however. According to this Army Ranger, Kaepernick went about protesting in the wrong way when he offended the sensibilities of people in this country and disrespected “the ideals that people of color have fought and died” for. There is no mention of the many valiant people of color who fought and died resisting the empire of genocide such as Geronimo, Bobby Hutton and Fred Hampton. The Ranger said Kaepernick’s point of view is “thin” because he is “reaping the benefits of a country that apparently oppresses people who look like him”, and went on to praise recent actions by Carmelo Anthony and Michael Jordan (who wrote a letter about BLM and police relations) as “more appropriate acts of protest.” Save it! This whole Bill Cosby ‘holier-than-thou’ politics of respectability crap was rightly frowned upon by Black revolutionary leaders like Malcolm X and Huey Newton. When you go out of your way to make sure no one takes umbrage at a show of resistance, it really defeats the whole point of making an act of protest in the first place. Far too many people are complacent with the horrific acts this country perpetrates against people all across the globe. Their consciences are not easily impacted by making them feel good about themselves and their country’s genocidal horrors.

The army ranger went on to offer suggestions of “more appropriate” ways to protest. He says Kaepernick should “write his congressman”, “petition” (as if members of Congress actually listen to the voices of their constituents as opposed to oligarchs and police unions), and “join the service and actually fight for the rights he seems to think are not offered to him.” This last suggestion makes absolutely no sense. How could fighting a foreign “enemy” overseas somehow achieve rights that are perceivably denied at home? That theory has been put to the test time and again, and it has yet to succeed in anything other than distracting from the denial of rights on the domestic front. As the great Muhammad Ali once said,

“My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother or some darker people or some poor, hungry people in the mud for big, powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father…

“If I’m going to die, I’ll die now right here fighting you. You’re my enemy. My enemy is the white people, not the Viet Cong or Chinese or Japanese. You’re my opposer when I want freedom. You’re my opposer when I want justice. You’re my opposer when I want equality. You won’t even stand up for me in America for my religious beliefs, and you want me to go somewhere and fight, but you won’t even stand up for me here at home.”

The I.J.R.’s army ranger didn’t stop there however. He continued on his polemic, which has been shared on Facebook some 350,000+ times, berating Kaepernick, claiming the athlete’s “sitting through the National Anthem was a lazy lack of will and brain power.” This is grand, as if going to hurt people in a faraway land to preserve the most brutal empire the earth has ever known, one that brutalizes and over-incarcerates its own people, somehow requires a lot of “will and brain power.” In the closing paragraphs, the Ranger states that to protest symbols of U.S. hegemony is to “ignore the American principles that have given rise to extreme integration within a single American generation.” This “extreme integration” is largely a myth. But I digress. Back to the polemic: “My father was born without the right to vote and in one generation I’ve been blessed to lead amongst the world’s greatest fighting force.” Who ever knew that the ultimate goal of the Civil Rights and Black Freedom struggles was the opportunity to possibly kill and be killed in the service of empire? To leave no doubt that all of Kaepernick’s critics are reading from the same playbook, the Ranger ends by reminding us that Kaepernick is of mixed race and thus his “life is the personification of the ideals I see in the American flag and National Anthem; a biracial child, raised by white parents, and who has accomplished much despite his ‘oppression.’” So now being “raised by white parents” is “the personification of the ideals” represented in the American flag? Can someone tell me why it is we’re being told we have to salute this piece of cloth again?

It’s ironic that a nation that collectively mourned the passing of Muhammad Ali, with Senator Orrin Hatch of all people giving a speech at his funeral, chooses to ignore everything which that great athlete stood for all of his life. Aside from Ali there were John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City whose famous decision to raise their fist in a Black Power salute in solidarity with the oppressed Black people of the United States, as opposed to saluting the U.S. star spangled banner, is now celebrated as an iconic moment in history. Needless to say it was not considered so by outraged authoritarians and American patriots at the time. In other words, Colin Kaepernick is in great company and is following in a long line of Black athletes who weren’t afraid to use their platform to call attention to this country’s continuing failure to live up to its promise of equality for all. Certainly history will view him in a much different light than the nationalist fervor of the moment suggests.

33 thoughts

  1. One of the police unions has announced that they will not work games unless protesting athletes are required to remain in the locker room for the anthem. What hypocrisy: protesting a protest for the very same reason, huh? But aren’t police supposedly sworn to protect and defend? Player do not take such an oath, nor are they required to stand. But, just think of the slippery slope that could occur if there were a brawl, and those very same police officers were not prepared to perform their duty>

    1. Well, as is usually the case, police are held to a lower set of standards than the rest of us. Even though it’s their job supposedly to “protect”, they get to decide who is worth protecting and who isn’t based on their political outlook apparently.

  2. Colin Kaepernick is such a brave heart and mind! I was wanting to write the comments to your posts before but some stuff didn’t let me for writing:) This is very important issue my dear Earthling friend. Because it contains in itself a large scale subject, from a sporting game, human honour, crying out the truths end etc to lynch mob and social effects and results.

    The American football is quite away from eastern culture, at east you know soccer-football is popular. Already, I don’t have any idea, what are the rules of the American football. Yes, I am totaly ignorant extraterrestrial about it 🙂 But when it comes to a sport event, if there is sizeable amount of money, and the millions of dollars industry which is shaped by the elites, the end of the business is becoming a shape in same way in everywhere. Someones will want from this job is definitely to make high profit. And for audiences of this big industry who are going to be under the influence of Kaepernick’s idea, according to the elites, Kaepernick is obliged to be lynched as “the black sheep”! Because they also wanted to keep the ropes of humankind in their hands, they want to control any kind of impact. If Kaepernick is not being lynched, then its impact would not limited with only this sporting event. In fact, this lynch is to give an intimidation to those who are supporting of his ideas. In total, this is not a lynch only for Kaepernick, this is a lynch mob for all people who have got the same or parallel ideas with Kaepernick.

    Because sometimes, the effects of sporting games could create big influence. In the right place, it came to my mind excellent example for this. You know September 11, 1973 Salvador Allende died with Pinochet coup by CIA support. In November 21, 1973 Chile-USSR football match was going to play at National Stadium in Santiago, Chile. But USSR refused to play this match in a stadium which was a concentration camp and many poeple died and tortured at there. And the global sports community everywhere supported the statement of the Soviet Football Federation. FIFA address had received many protest from the Dutch football federation, the German Democratic Republic, Sweden, Bulgaria and other countries. This was a effect of honorable stand! (There is a video on youtube about how Chile football team played in an empty stadium, but I don’t know it is real, after all I didn’t see those days, I have just read about it:))

    Today, the elites are afraid of kind of these effects. If it would be happen, the game which they have control, will reverse against them. That’s why in everywhere on this planet, they are giving the kind of march command against the people like Kaepernick, with they using all machines the system, like media.

    But if humankind wants to live equal and free and honorable, they have to support the people like Kaepernick. If they don’t do this, humankind will be destroyed itself in before the time.

    PS: By the way, I didn’t know the “lynch mob” came from the name of “Charles Lynch”. Thanks to your post I wanted to some research and I found this knowledge. Actually there is horrible things that I have read about this subject in USA, and especially on this link,
    very horrible writings and pictures I was in shock! But again, thank you I learnt many things due to your post, my dear Earthling friend Calep!

    Thank you for you showed a patience until you came to this line!

    -Migo, an ordinary extraterrestrial on lonely planet Earth 🙂

    1. This comment in itself was very thought-provoking. I really like the example you gave of the Soviet refusal to play the game in Chile after the CIA-backed coup in 1973.
      The pictures of historical lynch mobs in the U.S. are absolutely horrific, and the more you learn the more you realize it was something that society largely took part in. White people in the south would go to lynchings, take photographs for postcards to send to their families and cut off body parts to save as souvenirs. If you can get ahold of it there’s a book I recommend for you called “Without Sanctuary: lynching photography in America”.

      1. Thank you my Earthling friend for your recommendation! I found it’s web page on the web.
        And it is amazing! You are right also. One of the picture’ information, these were written: “What remnants of clothing that clung to the corpse were soon stripped away by souvenir hunters.”

        1. Yes, the book contains graphic and disturbing images, but also reprints of some of the original newspaper reports that document in graphic detail the barbarity of those the attendees. To them a lynching was a ritual (in their words a ‘barbecue’) in which they would bring their young children to witness and take part in the depravity.

          1. After than these children grown up… Human kind is on the edge of mass extinction by itself, when looking at the mankind history and today’s, also seeing the brutality!

            1. Yes, is it any wonder that these children who were taken to see such horrific things as lynchings like they were a day at the park would grow up to be mass murderers on a global scale? This depravity, while it is condemned by ordinary Americans looking in history books today, carries on through police terror of its own citizens and wars of conquest and annihilation overseas.

              1. I am totaly agree with you! Awakined American people should tell to the others. Because actually, CIA and USA governments are making worse evilness to the American people. Becuase these two establishments cause to the other people on Earth don’t like to the US people.

                And you are doing great job with your blog!

              2. I agree wholeheartedly! Our government is making us look bad (and to be honest a lot of us are making ourselves seem bad by defending this regime).

              3. And more hard work is to tell the people who reside with you in same country. Maybe the people of the foreign countries can understand what you want to tell, but the people in same country can’t. This is the same in everywhere. Also, this planet is like that my Earthling friend, like before at the future it will be same mentality.:)

  3. When I came back the first time from Vietnam, in early ’68, the War Sentiment was still led by the flag-waving lemmings. The second time, Dec. ’68, America was starting to waver. But a year or two later, people were spitting at some of our returning troops, and calling them baby-killers.

    Unfortunately, every time the American people say that they Back the Troops, Administrations high-jacks that sentiment and act like the people back the War. The Troops are the pawns, just doing their duty. Also, in today’s volunteer military. Administrations keep those who feel the pain–Troops and Family–to just one percent of the population.

    To most Americans, the War is like last week’s ball game. Colin Kaepernick is their wake-up call, and that other 99% just doesn’t like it. Bring back the Military Draft–No Deferments. That way, if Congress’ kids and grandkids might go, perhaps they’ll just leave the flags at home–AND TAKE A KNEE!

    1. We should bring back the draft with no deferments. Boy scout manuals use to say “if necessary die for your country” . We have become a nation of fools and cowards unworthy of those who have gone to fight.

  4. Anyone who questions Colin Kaepernick’s right to make a decision, and stand by it. should review the history of our country. It was not decided by Yes-Men, who merely went along, to get along, and make a buck on the side. Read “War is a Racket!”, just 17 pages, available for free on the Internet. It was written by Lt. Gen. Chesty Puller, Retired USMC, fought in three wars, won two Congressional Medals of Honor. He correctly points-out that young men shed blood in war, and old men profit immeasurably from it.

    For those who are castigating Colin Kaepernick, how long did the hatred for Muhammed Ali, who refused the Vietnam Draft, last? Consider also, exactly what does “…land of the Free, and home of the Brave?” mean? (Yes, the official version does end in a question mark.) What Freedom are you affording Kaepernick by vilifying him for (now) tAking a knee? And what Bravery here you recon icing, when standing would be the easy way out for him? Tell me!

    1. Exactly!! If Kaepernick truly were a “coward” as his critics claim, then he would sheepishly stand and salute the flag in spite of his convictions. To know that sitting during the Anthem will bring vilification on him and still do it anyway just shows bravery on his part.

  5. Beautifully written and said. You added facts and perspectives that I either forgot to add, or didnt know, in my article on kaepernick. your prose just flows and bends.

  6. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    The lynch mob has always been lurching around the corner … more so now than ever! It’s never gone away. It’s regaining new life. Oppression is everywhere. The mighty “Empire” is getting stronger. Power to Kap!
    I”m sitting with you!! “What touches one, touches all!”
    #SitWithKap ….

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