I was going to stay out of the debate involving the San Francisco quarterback’s refusal to stand during the playing of the National Anthem. But then too many Americans opened up with the overly worn crap about “love it or leave it” and not being able to resist, into the fray comes running the Constitutionally ignorant Donald J. Trump.
As much as to anyone, I’m aiming this at my fellow veterans of the US military. Think back to that moment when you raised your hand and said these words:
“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
At the time you first said these words you may have been too young to fully comprehend what you were avowing to do. But give it some hard thought. You took an oath to uphold the law of the land, the Constitution. To be fair, your promise legally ended on the date of your discharge. But for me, it never did end, all these years later I still feel as honor bound to support and defend the Constitution as I did as a seventeen year old.
Unlike many Americans I have read the Constitution countless times along with the supporting documentation and the major court cases that have altered its meaning over the centuries. I know that within its paragraphs and pages it guarantees every American the right to freedom of speech, thought, and expression and that the Supreme Court has said many times that those freedoms include the right to say and think differently than what the majority agrees with. The guarantees of the Constitution also includes the equal application of and protection from, the law.
Africans have been in North America since at least the early seventeenth century and the have never been treated equally or been equally protected. They have endured four centuries of indenture, enslavement, discrimination, segregation, and economic depression that most white Americans can’t begin to relate to.
In my life time I have been witness to a dramatic improvement in the social, political, educational, and economic lives of African-Americans. But to say blacks no longer must endure significant bigotry, discrimination, and forms of segregation is simply not true. Just give some consideration to all that’s happened to black America in past five years; the shooting of Travon Martin and dozens of other unarmed blacks, what happened in Ferguson, West Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, and too many other places. Unlike what the conservatives love to say, we are not living in a “post racial” world. The success of Donald Trump and his popularity with, and associations with, racist individuals and groups is more than sufficient evidence.
I wouldn’t know Colin Kaepernick if he were hitching a ride on route 138. I don’t know his background, how good an athlete he is, if he’s single or married, gay or straight, or short or tall. And none of it matters. The only thing that matters is that he’s an American and is due his rights and protections of the US Constitution. You, as his fellow American, are under no obligation to agree with him. But you are intellectually bound to consider the merit of his position. Is there truth to his reasoning and shouldn’t we be addressing that truth? You are also bound by the promises you have made many times when saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
That Kaepernick can sit on his ass during a display of popular patriotism and that I can safely write these words in defense of him is what freedom is all about. Screw the Trumps who suggest he go elsewhere. Let’s turn all the nation’s TV cameras on him and let him be the greatest example of what freedom means in America.
Let us celebrate our fundamental freedoms.