Kaepernick says he won't stand and show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses people of color. As you might expect, cue the long list of those speaking out against it, saying it's highly disrespectful towards those who serve our country, and especially towards those who have lost their lives doing so.
And, you know, those people aren't wrong. There's dissent, then there's screw you, and this veers towards the latter.
But consider this... what does it mean if the only reason a person is standing is the public pressure to do so? That is to say, he's only standing because to not stand would bring condemnation and hate from across the country? It doesn't mean anything.
And what does it say when we immediately jump on the anti-Kaepernick bandwagon and belligerently say he needs to be standing up with the rest of us? There's certainly nothing courageous or unique in calling for someone to do what 99.9% of us do when the anthem plays.
So, where does that leave us? How should we respond? Maybe the NFL and the White House (really... they needed to weigh in?) had it right with generally benign statements about one's right to free speech.
Some will want to label him as a hero for taking his stand. He's not. But it really is one of the truly great things about this country that we have free speech, and that we don't have to stand for the anthem or recite the Pledge of Allegiance or otherwise be forced into making statements we don't believe in.
So let's honor Kaepernick's right to dissent, make it mean something when we do stand, and let this one go.
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