By: Desmond Boyle, Staff Writer
Over the last two months, the backlash toward Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest has been fierce, but unfortunately misguided and hypocritical.
Many suggest that Kaepernick is disrespecting the flag by choosing to kneel during the national anthem, but in fact he is proving the greatest principle that our flag represents, the right to unabridged free speech.
While some suggest otherwise, the United States is the best country in the world because we give people the right to say anything, other than speech that intentionally incites violence or chaos.
So, when critics like ESPN analyst Mike Ditka say, “If they don’t like the country, they don’t like our flag, get the hell out, that’s what I think,” they are being completely ignorant.
Ditka’s statement is more than just ignorant, it is inherently un-American. The logic of, “you disagree with me so you should leave this country,” goes against the core beliefs that are embedded in our Constitution.
Patriotism is so much more than pledging allegiance to the flag or getting emotional during the national anthem, it is about respecting the fact that our country is uniquely great because we protect speech that may be reprehensible.
Another aspect of the opposition to Kaepernick that was hypocritical was the response by the San Francisco Police Department, who threatened to not work security at the San Francisco 49ers games.
The SFPD has the right to disagree with what Kaepernick has done during the national anthem, but threatening to not protect him because of his speech does in fact prove Kaepernick’s point that there is systemic racism in our society.
Go to any Ku Klux Klan rally around the country and along with the disgusting racist hate speech there is one other thing you will see: police presence to ensure that violence does not break out.
Why is it okay to say that police protect the most reprehensible speech under the guise of, “Well I have to protect their speech even though it’s racist,” then threaten refuse to protect the minority who speaks out?
The saddest part about Kaepernick’s protest is that it has failed to create the meaningful dialogue about racial inequality in this country.
In the last presidential debate, no one brought up that, despite the fact that white and black people use drugs at roughly the same rate, black people are eight times more likely to get arrested for drug offences.
Critics like Ditka say, “I don’t see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on… Now, if they want to look for them, then you can find problems with anything.”
It is easy to say that there is no problem as long as it does not affect you, but that is why Kaepernick chose to speak up and raise awareness to a clear problem.
But unfortunately, the dialogue has not been about how to end senseless killings of unarmed African-Americans, but rather how unpatriotic someone is for conducting a peaceful protest once a week.