*All men are created equal, and Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or the right of the people to assemble peaceably, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. These parts of the Constitution appears to trouble many Americans.
We respond to our emotions sometimes more quickly than others. It is hard to do the right thing when you we not know what the right thing is. We do not want to impose on others what we do not wish for ourselves as universal law of the Golden Rule.
We learn to stand for the National Anthem from custom, not law. The formal standard has been; stand, remove hats and place your right hand over your heart. As eyes or television cameras scroll the coinurts or stadiums, persons are talking, holding their drinks, and wearing hats. Such lack of attention causes heartburn to the point of almost saying, “Hey Butthole, respect the flag, respect the anthem, respect those that fought for America. Take off your hat; aren’t you American?
The question answers itself. The buttholes may be visitors, not American. Colin Kaepernick, a black football player, is now accused of being un-American. With little attention to our Constitution, what has taken issue is the interpretation of those that have fought for our flag and respect for our national anthem.
Some say Americans had traditionally stood for the flag since June 14, 1777, when the Continental Congress declared our national flag to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Some may follow that concept, but more profound is the pride of country and freedom, as soldiers and sailors do not have exclusive rights to our anthem, country or flag. Millions serve our country that bring economic, technological, and environmental prosperity. The flag, the anthem, and the country is equally theirs.
The lyrics of the national anthem refer to the country, flag, patriotism, battle, defense, victory, anger against foes, rest, living as free men, and bravery. Throughout our anthem, all stanzas proclaim that through battles, our flag stands over the land of the free and the home of the brave. Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics from seeing the victorious flag standing at Fort Henry in 1814 with the last verse concentrating on the triumph for freemen by brave men trusting in God.
We have the flag and the national anthem that are symbols of America being defended and argued with little attention to the Constitution signed into law by our founding fathers that courts defend. The statement that all men are created equal means that an American born this minute is just as American as our eldest American. We have no right to impose our rituals on their life, liberty or pursuit of happiness as restricting one’s freedom is unfair. Our Constitution is much more profound than our flag or anthem.
Colin Kaepernick protested saying, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Colin Kaepernick protested saying, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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 first sentence confirms
- he is upset with what he considers an injustice,
- his protest is against actions within his country,
- his refusal to stand for the national anthem, and
- his peaceful protest of the oppression of people of color.
In the second, he states that the oppression of people of color is an issue bigger than football.
His third sentence
- identifies dead bodies of color on American streets,
- references police officers receiving paid leave, and
- states that police are not being convicted of murder.
That is the summation of his protest and sitting on the bench during the national anthem protesting police killings of African Americans.
Then came Army Special Forces veteran Nate Boyer who influenced Kaepernick to kneel, rather than sit during the anthem. Out of respect, soldiers take a knee at soldiers’ graves or on security patrol. Kaepernick then added his concern for the perceived injustices of men and women of the military upon their return to the US.
Kaepernick addressed accountability and standards to police brutality against people of color adding that officers were government officials representing America. Veteran Boyer noted Kaepernick’s courage and that his actions were his inalienable rights. Kaepernick then thought taking a knee posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.
In 1984, Trump, seeking $1.7 billion lawsuit against the NFL, won a dollar and now offers 100 pennies for his thoughts. President Donald Trump, politicians and football fans have gathered attention focusing on the complete lack of respect for the flag, country, and military.
There is a feeling that players are privileged making millions of dollars in the NFL, so they should not disrespect the flag. Fans have sold their game tickets, and walk-outs are encouraged. They have yet to back down on the belief that kneeling during the anthem is lack of respect and will not entertain that players are kneeling to bring attention to social injustice.
Historical events give minorities reason to believe that the word of white men gathers more credence in process, policy, and issues. Women have similar declarations. While football players have said the protest is not against the flag, military or country, the protest is against injustices, a chorus of contrarians persist. Reasonable logic is inaccessible.
Can anyone mention a black, brown or white player that has said he or she is taking a knee to disrespect the flag, the military, the police or the country?”
Can anyone mention a black, brown or white player that has said he or she is taking a knee to disrespect the flag, the military, the police or the country? I know of no one, yet, people view the posture as disrespectful. Kaepernick’s word and intentions are unappreciated.
When Kaepernick says he cannot respect standing for the national anthem in protest of abuses against persons of color, by no means is it a 180 to a statement of I am not standing to disrespect the anthem, country, flag, or military. There are degrees between opposites, much like America’s false war against drugs. (Don’t start me on our dedication on the war (SIC) on drugs.)
Veterans acknowledging the merits of the Constitution and our freedoms signed a letter saying, “Far from disrespecting our troops, there is no finer form of appreciation for our sacrifice than for Americans to enthusiastically exercise their freedom of speech.” Those that signed the letter understand difference is not restricted to 180 degrees. They do not see Kaepernick’s issue as a wall, but a bridge.
From individuals focusing on Kaepernick’s actions, ego, and pride being his intent to disrespect the fallen, our active military, and our veterans, there’s been no regard or interest for his claims of injustice by trained officers shooting unarmed people of color.
One person wrote, “What is so offensive about the whole thing is the entire issue is built on lies,” by bringing up the Alton Sterling incident on July 5, 2016, in Baton Rouge when Kaepernick stated, “This is what lynching’s look like in 2016!” Kaepernick’s protest may not reflect one incident.
Racial disparities persist.”
Racial disparities persist. 169 unarmed people were killed in 2016, compared with 234 in 2015. 1,091 deaths were recorded for 2016, compared with 1,146 logged in 2015. Since 2015, The Post has logged the details of 2,945 shooting deaths. Last year, police killed 19 unarmed black males, a figure tracking closely with the 17 killed in 2016. In 2015, police shot and killed 36 unarmed black males.
Dedicated police officers and our military have heavy responsibilities for serving our country. One day can change their lives from members of the armed forces to rogue agents. Most enter service with good intentions. The picture of Pat Tillman trading his NFL gear for a Ranger uniform is moving.
Moved were his parents to protest the Army running from truth and transparency to the cause of death.
The country has meaning.
I recall when 11-year-old Sebastien De La Cruz sang the national anthem at the NBA final in San Antonio. There was a backlash of racists comments; “Who let this illegal alien sing our national anthem?” from Matt Cyrus, — “How you singing the national anthem looking like an illegal immigrant” from Andre Lacey, proud father, and firefighter from Augusta, Georgia, and it went on.
Sebastien responded, “For those that said something bad about me, I understand it is your opinion. I am a proud American and live in a free country. It is not hurting me. It is just opinion.” For internal peace, maybe, we should listen to children making sense.
Many have offered opinions to Kaepernick. He listened to Boyer and adjusted. He still seeks truth and transparency with Nike playing the long game that the Constitution is on their side of peaceful protest as a First Amendment right. Nike views Kaepernick as bravely battling a dream for social justice bigger than him and at the cost of sacrificing everything within his career.
As an African American, Kaepernick is not new in having his views or intentions marginalized or people discount his possible negative experiences with the police. As an African American, he is blessed with the freedom and the opportunity to bring attention to social injustice. That is American.
God Bless America,
- With every American understanding and respecting the value of a person’s life.
- With corporations instead of funding politicians, fund body cams for transparency, vests for protection of every officer, and special training on deescalating issues.
- With stronger police-community relationships of mutual trust, with required ride-alongs with officers, more Police Athletic Leagues, involvement in local school activities, and police led community events.
- With truth and transparency and duty to intervene in partner misconduct affecting the agency.
- With demands that no fleeing felon or unarmed person, be shot unless there is imminent danger and that misconduct of officers be evaluated.
- With community involvement in policing crime and disorder matters.
- With communities identifying and voicing their values to be incorporated by police procedures.
- With communities selecting working groups for each challenge affecting the community.
- With communities taking responsibilities for economic development, reduction of weapons, and enlistment as officers.
- While improving and working on the nine mentioned issues, continue adding another nine issues on ways to improve American lives.
I would rather Kaepernick stand.
Yet, Kaepernick’s intentions and his purpose should be accepted at face value. Any of us would not appreciate being dismissed or misinterpreted if there were an issue needing attention. In degrees, I place more importance on correcting perceived social injustices.
Freedom grants choices. Just do it; honor the flag or national anthem your way and respect individual rights protected by our Constitution over the land of the free and the home of the brave.
God if you’re listening to Kaepernick’s religious tattoos, one which is Psalms 18:39, “You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me,” Kaepernick wants you to respond to the 30,000 name calling adversaries.
To God The Glory
Sam Martinez is a retired FBI special agent
and author of
Systemic Evil, Mat Perez vs the FBI