I'm always going to stand because I have that connection. For me, it's different. ... My dad fought [in Vietnam] for this country. We may be in a completely different spot if we don't have those people to go out and protect us. So I'll always make sure [to stand]. ... It's been more than my dad that has fought. It's been a lot of family members and whatnot that have gone and fought. I have to pay my respects to them and all the families with loved ones they have lost, for protecting our country. ... Two minutes, three minutes. Pay your respects for those three minutes and say thank you for your service.As far as the United States of America being "in a completely different spot" if men like his father didn't fight in places like Vietnam, I would ask Betts when was the last time American values or the oft-stated American "way of life" was so seriously threatened with elimination by an outside enemy that the country's military was called upon to turn back that invading (and possibly conquering) force? ... The only example I can think of, mentioned below, happened more than 200 years ago.
As The Nation's Dave Zirin reminds us, the military has absolutely nothing to do with citizens possessing the right to protest.
And now we have arrived at a frightening point where an act of dissent which has nothing to do with the military is labeled disrespectful to men and women in uniform. The message is that Kaepernick only has this "freedom" to protect because of the protections accorded us by our military. This is such a disturbing - and a very post-9/11 - concept.
The military doesn't give us the right to protest. The Constitution does that. Two hundred years of struggle for civil liberties does that.
If we accept the notion that we are allowed to raise our voices, or take a knee in dissent, only by the good graces of the military, then we are also implicitly saying that the military has the right to take that ability away.
And that's the thing about the right to dissent: you use it or you lose it.
So again, for the cheap seats: Colin Kaepernick is trying to raise awareness about police violence. If you believe he only has the right to do that because of the US military, you are arguing that dissent is only possible if the people with the guns approve.
Colin Kaepernick Is Righter Than You Know: The National Anthem Is a Celebration of Slavery
Jon Schwarz, The Intercept, August 28, 2016
"The Star-Spangled Banner," Americans hazily remember, was written by Francis Scott Key about the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812. But we don't ever talk about how the War of 1812 was a war of aggression that began with an attempt by the U.S. to grab Canada from the British Empire.I Have Never Stood Up for the National Anthem—and Never Will
However, we'd wildly overestimated the strength of the U.S. military. By the time of the Battle of Fort McHenry in 1814, the British had counterattacked and overrun Washington, D.C., setting fire to the White House.
And one of the key tactics behind the British military's success was its active recruitment of American slaves. ...
[W]hen Key penned "No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave," he was taking great satisfaction in the death of slaves who'd freed themselves. His perspective may have been affected by the fact he owned several slaves himself.
Sonali Kolhatkar, TruthDig, August 31, 2016
No country is worth pledging blind allegiance to. Patriotism, nationalism, anthems, flags and syrupy words about "love of country" or soldiers "fighting for freedom" are constructs aimed at fostering unquestioning obedience from people lucky enough to be deemed citizens. They are meant to quash debate and discussion and enable mobs to righteously proclaim treason by anyone who dares to dissent. ...By Sitting Down Kaepernick Challenges Americans to Reflect on What They Really Stand For
Perhaps bowing in deference to a flag or anthem fulfills some deep, primal need in humans to identify as a tribe that's bigger and better and stronger than other tribes. Perhaps it satisfies a compulsion much like organized religion does—to find one's place in a big, dangerous world that often makes no sense. Regardless, like religion, nationalism ought to be optional, a personal choice. ...
[M]any Americans don't understand that we live in a democracy where embracing the symbols of nationalism and accepting institutional abuses of power are not mandatory. ...
Nationalism and blind patriotism can bring out the worst in all of us. No country is above criticism, because no country has ever gotten everything right. Most are built on legacies of mass oppression, genocide, slavery, colonialism, corruption, misogyny and racism.
Peter Bloom, Common Dreams, August 30, 2016
In belting out "O say can you see" Americans are allowed to unthinkingly celebrate the USA. They can forget for a moment the illegal invasions of foreign countries that have left millions dead. They can turn the mind away from the black citizens being killed by police with seemingly almost total legal immunity. They can close their eyes to the fact that they are now an oligarchy ruled by corporate elites and their bipartisan political supporters instead of a vibrant democracy governed for, by and of the people.America Needs to Listen to What Colin Kaepernick Is Actually Trying to Say
There is a also a deeper forgetting at play. It is to overlook the country's history of systematic racism starting with slavery. It is to be given a few minutes pause to close one's eyes to its tradition of classism at home and economic exploitation abroad. It is a stirring moment of collective amnesia to an America's past that from the beginning has continually betrayed its avowed commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for many of its citizens as well as those it has oppressed around the world.
Indeed, the national anthem now represents America at its most cultish. It is a living relic of a legacy that treats patriotism as if it were a religion. Thus in declining to stand for it, Kaepernick is publicly challenging the nation's blind faith. ...
Not surprisingly Kaepernick's protest continues to ignite a public firestorm. There are predictable charges of being "anti-American" that brim with fascist overtones even as it purports to be defending democracy and freedom.
Dave Zirin, The Nation, August 30, 2016
It is inspiring to see an athlete who cares more about the world than their own ambitions. And it is stunning that so many people are saying that an NFL player this thoughtful and selfless is somehow a "bad" role model, in a league so rife with scandal from the owner's box to the locker room.Colin Kaepernick Pledges $1 Million to Social Justice Groups as More Players Sit
It is also pathetic that so many in the sports media, who a few months ago were praising the legacy of Muhammad Ali, are coming down so ferociously on Colin Kaepernick. As if sports and politics can mix only in the past tense, and racism is something that can only be discussed as a historical question. People can choose to agree or disagree with Kaepernick's analysis or arguments, but they should deal with the reality of the facts he's risking his career to bring into light.
Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams, September 2, 2016
When Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem ahead of the 49ers' Thursday night preseason finale against the San Diego Chargers, he was joined by his teammate Eric Reid—while further up the coast, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane also sat down in solidarity as the anthem played ahead of a game against the Oakland Raiders. ...
Kaepernick on Thursday pledged to donate $1 million of his salary to community organizations focused on social justice causes.
"I've been very blessed to be in this position and make the kind of money I do, and I have to help these people. I have to help these communities," he said. "It's not right that they're not put in the position to succeed, or given the opportunities to succeed."