“What the hell’s going on out here?!?”- Vince Lombardi
Let’s get this out of the way first: I don’t care about Colin Kaepernick. I don’t care that he refuses to stand for the national anthem. I don’t care what he thinks about the state of race relations in this country. I don’t care that he seems to equate Malcolm X and Fidel Castro with justice. I don’t care about his promise to continue his protest until some vague “change” occurs in America. I don’t even care that he’s likely only doing all this so he can disingenuously point to it as the cause when the 49ers inevitably release him, if they can’t trade him away.
I wrote in this space a number of months ago on politics in sports, although at the time it was specific to baseball. The NFL has traditionally been slightly more risk averse where political statements by players or teams are concerned, often to a ludicrous extent. The NFL is a private organization and can react or not react to Kaepernick’s antics however they like, although I suspect their stance will mirror the milquetoast statement of the 49ers, “recognizing” Kaepernick’s right to protest but “disagreeing” with his method. The statement is technically defensible as far as it goes and also just so happens to skirt offending either those inclined to agree with Kaepernick or those inclined to vehemently disagree. In modern corporate America, it’s really the only stance the NFL can take.
Personally, I’m not even much interested in whether or not Kaepernick’s perceived grievances are true, or even truly his. Abandoned by a black father and white mother and raised by an adoptive white family, it would be natural for him to seek an explanation why, and easy for him to find some form of systemic racism to blame for his father being unable to raise him, thus absolving his father of guilt. But that’s pop psychology. Speculation that Kaepernick was, in a sense, “Jimi Hendrixed” on racial issues when he reached the NFL isn’t all that interesting, either.
Kaepernick’s stated reasoning for his protest, that the U.S. is a country “that oppresses black people and people of color,” has drawn the expected fire, mainly in the form of statements to the effect that Kaepernick is disrespecting veterans and that he is showing support for anti-police factions with his comment that “there are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” He has been painted, justifiably, as essentially a spoiled recipient of the very privilege he is protesting.
In their statement the San Francisco 49ers say: “The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in the celebration of the national anthem.”
It’s easy to say “well sure, when it comes to a left wing cause of course the NFL is all for freedom of speech but when Tim Tebow wore his Christianity on his sleeve the NFL wasn’t quite so gung ho about it.” That’s a fair criticism. There certainly does seem to be a double standard at times. But that doesn’t make the 49ers statement any less true. It’s the position we should all be taking. Trying to make Kaepernick out to be anything other than what he is (essentially a black male Jane Fonda) just gives him what he wants, more mics in his face in the press conferences.
Not standing for the anthem is a juvenile and ham-handed method of protesting, especially when what you’re protesting is largely a myth. But calling Kaepernick a traitor, using the “if you’re so oppressed just leave” line, these are equally ham-handed. Because Kaepernick is an American citizen. He is free to protest whatever stupid cause, in whatever stupid way, he sees fit. That fact, that ideal, should be something we all recognize as a glorious thing instead of debating who’s a “real” American and threatening boycotts depriving ourselves of watching a sport we love because of what one idiot backup quarterback believes.
One of the great tragedies of modern America is that the government has intruded into the lives of citizens to such a great extent that people can no longer shrug off political disagreements because political control of the government by the ‘other side’ actually DOES have the potential to affect lives. Kaepernick is protesting cops (the government) in California, of all places. So maybe Colin needs to take a deeper look at what the real problems might be. He might find the answers aren’t to be found in more or better government. If he really wants to feel oppressed, he should look at his tax returns. Then he can really start hating the Man.
It has become popular this year to criticize our two horribly deficient major party presidential candidates. I guess that sort of happens in every election, but in this year, the criticism seems to be particularly loud. On the one hand, we have a decrepit leftover with a disproven world view and the ethics of a payday lender. Her opponent is a raging narcissist and possible sociopath with a penchant for fabricating facts and awkwardly ogling his own daughter.
320 million people, and we came up with these two?
Equally popular this year is apportioning blame for the lack of quality in our final two contenders for the highest office in the land. At one point or another, I have seen pieces blaming any combination of the following:
I’m sure there are more, but those are the ones that come to me off the top of my head. It does, however, leave out the most culpable but seemingly least-often blamed group: people that vote.
That’s right, folks, I am turning the blame cannon squarely at you in a way that an elected official (who, obviously, needs your vote and therefore would never be such a bitch about it) never, ever will. You’re at fault. I’m at fault. We’re all at fault. Everything else is a sideshow: we did this to ourselves.
Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for exactly one reason: he got the most votes. Of all of the people who walked into a voting booth to render their preference during primary season, more of them chose that bramble-headed buffoon than any of the other candidates. The voters, in relatively overwhelming numbers, decided that he was the person in that field of candidates that they most wanted to serve as president. Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee because the voters (of both the superdelegate and non-superdelegate variety) that decided to cast a ballot decided that, warts and all, she was the person that they most wanted to serve as president.
Stop blaming others and start owning your own culpability and the culpability of your friends and families. We got what we (collectively) wanted.
Frankly, this is not an isolated phenomenon. We have quite a habit of distributing blame for things that we, as Americans, shoulder responsibility. Why do we have a $19 trillion dollar Federal debt and barely-calculable unfunded obligations? Why has the Federal government spent more money than it received in every single year since 1957? Because that is what we voted for. The electoral message that has consistently thrived in both parties at every level of government since after WWII is “I will give you more and more government, and I am not going to make you pay for it. I will deliver to you benefits that we can all collectively decide will be paid for by your children and grandchildren.” (Oh, but Millennials are the lazy freeloaders, amirite?)
Our elected officials have given us massive new departments of Education, Energy and Homeland Security, an explosion of military spending, and expansion of Medicare and Social Security and growing subsidies for a variety of activities and products, all while cutting the overall tax burden across the breadth of taxpayers. We have rewarded that behavior by electing those who promised to do more of it, and re-electing those who prove to be particularly good at it.
Why do we have a health care system that can’t control the explosive growth of its cost? Republicans will tell you that it is government intervention and malpractice attorneys. Democrats will tell you that it is evil profit-driven insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Well, I have bad news for all of you…the problem with the American Health Care System is Americans. Aging, fat, sedentary, impatient and entitled Americans who want to be able to see any doctor they want at any time in a world-class hospital and be prescribed any designer drug they can think of for every minor ache, pain or inconvenience. And not only do we want “someone else” to pay for all of it, but outside of smoking, we even refuse to require payment for our own risky behaviors. Voters continue to respond to candidates who promise them that they can maintain revoltingly disgusting personal habits, receive world leading care and enjoy unfettered access, all on someone else’s dime.
The first step in any self-improvement initiative is to recognize one’s own culpability in whatever has gone wrong in their life. This applies to the collective as well, and it is time that we start taking responsibility for our own actions. Congress sucks because they do exactly what we want them to, and we want them to do really sucky things. Our presidential candidates suck because we suck at picking presidential candidates. You can talk until you’re blue in the face over the outsized influence of the alt-right or whichever of George Soros or the Koch Brothers represents your political enemies. But at some point, we have to own our own failings.
Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.