Salute Colin Kaepernick and his friends

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Time to pick a side, folks. Our president just called Colin Kaepernick a son of a bitch at a campaign rally for Luther Strange in Alabama. That is, he said any player who kneels during the national anthem at a football game is a son of a bitch who ought to be fired. Talk about a president who coarsens the national conversation. He’s like the schoolyard bully who wants to bring your mother into every fight. That’s how you bait someone, right? You insult his mother.

Trump also said, “We all love our country.” Of course he didn’t mean all. He does not believe the sons of bitches who kneel during the national anthem love their country. They must have a different country they love, because you see they disrespect ours.

When you kneel during the national anthem, the person who kneels gets to say what it means. We don’t. The act itself takes courage, as Colin Kaepernick quickly found out. His demonstration of solidarity with police victims and their families cost him his job, without any urging from Trump. He did not know what would happen when he first stayed seated during the national anthem. Now he knows. The president calls him a son of a bitch in public.

When you kneel during the national anthem, the person who kneels gets to say what it means. We don’t. The act itself takes courage, as Colin Kaepernick quickly found out.

Citizens have limited ways to demonstrate they are unhappy about something. Any citizen ought to be free to sit, kneel, raise a fist, or do whatever they like during the national anthem. You cannot force people to do what you think they ought to do, any more than Colin Kaepernick can force you to agree with him about police treatment of black people. If Kaepernick and other players choose this method to call attention to their grievance, and to petition for change, you can’t denounce them for disrespect, because they don’t intend disrespect. Your response ought to focus on the grievance.

On a loosely related matter, President Trump lashed back at Stephen Curry, captain of the Golden State Warriors NBA champions, when Curry said he would consult with his team about a visit to the White House. He also indicated he would decline the president’s invitation. Trump tweeted, ““Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” LeBron James, Curry’s colleague, tweeted back to Trump, “Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”

I guess the days are over when part of the team could show up, and part of the team could stay home. That’s how the Patriots handled the matter after the Superbowl. We also know the athletes have had the better of the relationship. Politicians love to bask in the reflected glory of successful athletes. Athletes who came to the White House knew the politicians had the greatest public relations benefit from the White House visit. Who the hell out in Sacramento or Boston cares if the whole team travels to Washington to shake the president’s hand?

Now for picking sides. We need to see more white athletes demonstrate solidarity with their fellow warriors on the field.

Now for picking sides. We need to see more white athletes demonstrate solidarity with their fellow warriors on the field. Beyond the NFL, let’s see white football players for number one ranked Alabama kneel with their black brothers during the national anthem this fall. That would make people take notice. That would tell the president and his fellow racists, “Don’t come to our state to call us all sons of bitches because we object to the way police officers murder people!” Someone might add, police officers don’t murder only black people. Police use their weapons to kill citizens of all races, and all ethnic backgrounds.

Let’s see this protest spread. Remember the sign of three fingers people held aloft in The Hunger Games? The salute shows respect, and it shows what side you are on. Peacekeepers could murder you for that sign. Let everyone in the stands show kneeling players a sign of support during the national anthem. Salute them. It takes courage. You won’t be a son of a bitch.


Update

Teresa Kaepernick, Colin’s mother, tweeted in response to Trump’s attack, “Guess that makes me a proud bitch!” She also texted her four sisters, “You’re not gonna believe this, the president just called me a bitch!” Teresa Kaepernick elaborates on her response to Trump in Deadspin’s interview with her. It reminds you how to have a sense of humor about our president’s public behavior.


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