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Written by Barry Kowal   
Aug 26, 2015 at 09:03 PM

  One of the things that sticks most with me from my university life is the remark made to me by my Sociology Professor. He was a retired soldier who said "pride and ignorance work hand and hand".

  On Friday August 26th,2016 Colin Kaepernick at the beginning of a football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers refused to stand for the national anthem out of support for African Americans and other minorities. In response to his sitting down during the "Star Spangled Banner" he said "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."

  Before we  dissect  this action the "Star Spangled Banner"  itself is somewhat suspect. During the War of 1812 author of the national anthem Francis Scott Key during the Battle of Baltimore he was unable to do anything but watch the bombarding of the American forces at Fort McHenry during the on the night of Monday,September 13-14 in 1814.

The fact that the Americans defended the fort and were not defeated  inspired his writing of the song.But there are some facts that are not known by many about Francis Scott Key and the "Star Spangled Banner". From the original draft of the song there are many lyrics rhat had to be deleted.Here are some of the omitted lyrics:

               And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
      That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
      A home and a Country should leave us no more,
      Their blood has wash'd out their foul footstep's pollution.
      No refuge could save the hireling and slave
      From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,

 Francis Scott Key was a slave owner and a staunch anti-abolitionist. The British inducted many runaway slaves into their army with the promise that if they fought for the British they would be free at the end of the war. This infuriated Francis Scott Key. It is no surprise that Colin Kaepernick may want to sit down for a song that somewhat glorifys anti-abolitionists hindering runaway slaves hopes of being emancipated.

  Rush Limbaugh,Glenn Beck,Sean Hannity,Bill O'Reilly and other right-wing wackos were quick to call Kaepernick unpatriotic and insulting to US Armed Forces.

  First of all when right wing wackos protest in front of abortion clinics because they oppose a woman being allowed to do with her own body as she so choses. These right wing wackos are able to do so because US troops are defending their right to protest.

  When right wing wackos protest in front of government buildings because they wish to discriminate and vilify LGBT people.  Again,they are able to do so because US troops are defending them 0f their right to do so.

  So,when with impunity the police murder US citizens in the street and have their actions supported by everyone right up to the President.Colin Kaepernick is protesting this behavior by refusing to stand for the National Anthem.He is doing so because the US troops are defending him of his right to do so.

   Kaepernick's refusal to stand for the "Star Spangled Banner" is the latest lightning rod.Kaepernick said he was trying to raise awareness about the fact that this country isn't living up to the motto of "liberty and justice for all." He also said that he would continue to sit through the national anthem "until there's significant change" and the "flag represents what it's  supposed to represent."

       Along with the reactions I previously mentioned, Kaepernick's protest sparked a firestorm of outrage, quite literally so in the case of one 49ers fan,who burned the QB's jersey and then put a video of it on Facebook.

   According to other conservatives,Kaepernick's decision to sit during the national anthem is deeply unpatriotic because it's disrespectful to the military and the police who've given their lives to keep us safe. Former presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson gave a version of this argument during an appearance on Fox so called news.

This is the standard conservative argument that comes up every time someone disrespects' the flag or "insults" the military and it's just as wrong as now as it was the hundreds  of other times someone used it to condemn a legitimate protest.

   Right-wingers would never admit it,but what Colin Kaepernick did is actually the most patriotic thing you can do.The USA  was founded in protest and on egalitarian ideals and using our constitutional protest right to take a stand for something you believe in is as American (and as patriotic) as it gets. It's quite literally the type of thing the USA was founded on and for.You'd think conservatives would understand this,given how they're always going on about the Constitution and "personal liberty," but apparently they only mean that for white people.

    Unnoticed in most of the media is the ultimate irony of all this: Levi's,the clothing company that bought naming rights for the 49ers' stadium,is way more unpatriotic than Colin Kaepernick  will ever be.Even though it likes to portray itself as a salt-of-the-earth American company,Levis's,like most of corporate America,has taken advantage of the so-called free trade era to send  most of its manufacturing jobs overseas.Only one line of Levi's jeans, the 501 classics, is now made here in the U.S.A. Meanwhile, the company's finance, customer relations, and IT departments  are now also all handled abroad,mostly in India.The outsourcing of Levi's financial department alone cost 500 jobs.And, according to Citizens for Tax Justice,Levi Strauss is sitting on over $100 million overseas to avoid paying US income taxes on the money. Very patriotic!

   In other words, while Colin Kaepernick risks his career (and possibly his life) to take a stand for people who live and work here in America,Levi's exploits its reputation to participate in and contribute to the death of the middle class while enriching its executives and shareholders.But you won't hear anything about that from Republicans.They've been on Levi's side all along.They've supported so-called free trade deal after so-called free trade deal,all while talking tough about God, country, and the flag.

For conservatives,patriotism is just a slogan, and their crocodile tears about Colin Kaepernick prove it.


  The United States Supreme Court in Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989),and reaffirmed in U.S. v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990),has ruled that due to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, it is unconstitutional for a government (whether federal, state, or municipality) to prohibit the desecration of a flag, due to its status as "symbolic speech."

  Just like one person has a right to wave it another person has a right to burn it.

Last Updated ( Sep 01, 2016 at 03:40 PM )

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