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Op-Ed

Opinion: Patriotism in Trying Times

 

San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
San Francisco 49ers’ Eric Reid (35) and Colin Kaepernick (7) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. Courtesy AP/Mike McCarn.

On August 26, Colin Kaepernick made a choice, and as a result, Americans are tossing, chewing, questioning and pondering the true definition of patriotism. What choice did Kaepernick make? He exercised his right to stand for what he believes in… or in this case, the right not to stand.

As an NFL quarterback, Kaepernick has a lot of influence on his fans. Knowing this, he sat and later kneeled during the national anthem. As one can imagine chaos ensued. Why? For some, the national anthem is an embodiment of everything American: patriotism, freedom, and courage. The national anthem is so important to Americans, that when Gabby Douglas forgot to put her hand on her heart during the Olympics, Twitter fingers exploded at the “show of disrespect.” The reaction for Kaepernick based on his choice was no different.

After being asked why he didn’t stand for the national anthem Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up and show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color” The next day, he got backlash. Which brings up a good question. What is the true definition of Patriotism? For many Americans, it is a fierce love for this country. When Kaepernick didn’t stand for the national anthem, everyone was very quick to shout,”That is very unpatriotic,” because they doubted his love for his country.

America has made great progress; very few can wake up and say, ”I’m not lucky to live in this country.” However, the everyday citizens who call themselves patriots, need to come to the defense of the people who have very little to nothing. Television personality Steve Harvey said it best: “The anthem protest ain’t anti-government, it’s drawing attention to how the country isn’t living up to the words. Land of the Free ain’t true for all sadly.”

Americans tend to appreciate what the American flag stands for, more than the lives of actual people it represents. With this is mind, it makes sense Americans would take offense when a well-paid sports player appeared to protest the values Americans hold dear. Even the most prestigious values the founding fathers gave us mean absolutely nothing without action from the American people. What Kaepernick did could be viewed as modern-day action. Hypothetically speaking, patriotism isn’t defined by a sequence of words but by a sequence of actions that are married in an attempt to better “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Unless Kaepernick uses his protest to help America, then he is not a patriot. Some agree with Tony La Russa who believes,“Kaepernick is protesting just to draw attention to himself.”

An official definition of the word patriot in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is a person who loves and fights for their country. Sitting to bring attention to oppression in hopes of ending social and political injustice implies a love for the country and the people in it. Based on this one definition out of many, Kaepernick and everyone protesting with him could be viewed as patriots.

In juxtaposition, with a boatload of indications of what the word could mean, no one can be sure. As everyone knows, America is a country of diverse opinions; that is why what Kaepernick did will never be wrong or right, and that is why no one will agree on what being a patriot requires.

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