Sunday, August 28, 2016

Colin Kaepernick Exercises Freedom of Speech; "Patriots" Livid

I've seen many versions of this ignorant crap floating around since the 49ers quarterback sat out the national anthem the other night. Many of them have said something to the effect of, "Our military didn't fight and die so you can disrespect the flag." 
Yes, they did.
Because in this country, we are guaranteed the freedom of our speech, the freedom to dissent, and the freedom to seek redress of grievances. And the freedom of speech, in particular, is a guarantee to speech that is NOT popular, NOT the norm, and NOT what the majority of people think. Because you don't have to protect popular speech, normal speech, or the speech of the majority. That speech is protected by its bulk.
I've read others saying, "there oughta be a law..." It would be unconstitutional. And, before the case was decided by the Supreme Court, it would be a law that demanded to be violated. Just like the Jim Crow laws in the south that led to the Civil Rights movement. The prime defense in the Nuremberg Trials at the end of World War II, when the surviving Nazi bigwigs were put on trial for their war crimes, was, "I was just following orders." It didn't work. It never works. We are each responsible for ourselves. You abide by an immoral law, you are an immoral person. Such a law would never stand.
I admire Colin Kaepernick. He took a stand, or a seat as it were, based on his clearly articulated grievances with our country. I think he is right in his named grievances. Clearly, there are major issues for people of color in the United States of America. I also admire that he, apparently, made the decision to take the heat that will be heaped upon him now. There is no more draconian institution in America than the National Football League. Since Kaepernick has been a marginal player, at best, since the year he led the 49ers to the Super Bowl, he will likely be fined, may be suspended, and I doubt anyone in the league would criticize the 49ers if they released him. But, remembering the parallels again, John Lewis was beaten half to death, Martin Luther King was murdered, Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman were murdered, James Meredith was shot, Medgar Evers was murdered, and on and on and on, for standing up for what they believed. America may guaranteed the freedom of speech, but there is no guarantee that you won't be killed for it, either literally of figuratively, by the most un-American of Americans. 
But no matter how loudly the popular speech today may condemn Colin Kaepernick for sitting, this country was built precisely on the principle that he, indeed, could do it. And I'm grateful to him, and every other American, who has taken this country at its words. Those in the Constitution. Not the words of Fox "News" or Rush Limbaugh or Donald Trump. But the words, largely written by James Madison, perfected by the Constitutional Convention, ratified by the original states, and accepted by every state that has joined the Union since. They are the only words that matter. And Colin Kaepernick was genuinely American and patriotic in trusting and relying on them.
Whether you like it or not. Especially if you don't like it.

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