Kaepernick Ignites Controversy

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The 49’s quarterback has led Americans to call into question the meaning of freedom.

Andy Jung, Writer

Recently, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, has attracted the attention of many, as he refused to stand for the national anthem in the pre-season game against the Green Bay Packers. The quarterback’s protest has added to the controversy that African-Americans and other People of Color are mistreated in the U.S

As Americans, ‘freedom’ is an inseparable concept in our daily lives and is sometimes taken for granted. However, the way America defines ‘freedom’ is important to the proud history and culture the United States possess. Many times, as Americans, we are divided by different interpretations of this freedom.

Opponents of Kaepernick’s protest argue that his actions were disrespectful to the country and to the men and women who serve in the armed forces. Many people consider the protest a violation to tradition. They argue that, historically, the national anthem has been a symbol of solidarity that spurs nationalism and general support for U.S. troops. Therefore, by refusing to stand, Kaepernick has essentially disregarded soldiers’ efforts. In response to Kaepernick, Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump, said, “I think it’s a great lack of respect and appreciation for our country,” and continued, “…they should try another country, see if they like it better.” However, other opponents of Kaepernick believe that, while protesting brings positive change, doing so in front of the red-white-and-blue flag is a sign of disrespect. Katie Flanagan, senior at MHS, disapproves of Kaepernick’s demonstration, saying, “I don’t agree with his actions,” and added that, “there are better ways to handle the issue.”

On the other hand, supporters of Kaepernick’s protest claim that he was simply exercising his constitutional rights. Others in support of the quarterback have said that not rising for the national anthem attracted necessary attention to the problem of systematic racism in the country. Even the USWNT star midfielder, Megan Rapinoe, kneeled during the anthem- an act she described as a, “nod to Kaepernick”. Since then, he has gained many supporters throughout the NFL, including the entire roster of the Seattle Seahawks. Furthermore, President Obama stated that Kaepernick was exercising his constitutional right as stated in the 1st Amendment. Many continue to ‘sit’ in solidarity with Kaepernick, to further spread awareness of racism. As famous athletes, they are privileged with a mainstream platform unlike most people, with which they are able to voice concerns to a larger audience. Therefore, those who support Kaepernick claim that his ultimate goal was to get people conversing about the issue, whether they agree with  his actions or not. In support of Kaepenick, senior at MHS, Joe O’connor said that, “[it is] an effective way to get the conversation going… to get people who would not normally talk about it, to talk about it.”

 

Patriotism, and the way people decide to define it, ultimately changes the perspective of one’s actions. The most attractive feature of America is the freedom that it offers, whether it is utilized to pursue a lifelong dream or to combat injustice in the world. It is a right that can be utilized in various ways with different styles depending on each individual.