Anthem Kneelers: Social Activists or Ungrateful Spoiled Brats?

By | October 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep.
– Rudyard Kipling, “Tommy

Gratitude is the most positive of emotions, and ingratitude the most negative. Ingratitude motivates us to disrespect those persons and institutions that have helped us the most, and to which we owe everything. Ingratitude enables us to believe that everything good came to us as a result of our own sterling qualities, while everything bad was a result of racism, or bigotry, or whatever. As a result, no matter how lucky we are, we can still wallow in the feelings of victimhood and self-righteousness.

Apparently the current problem began when San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick announced that he would refuse to stand for the National Anthem because, 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.”

The mixed-race millionaire and popular idol believes that his job is not to be a role model of success for minority young people, but to raise their consciousness to racism. Where did he learn this? Not from his white adoptive parents, who took pains to teach him pride in his ethnic heritage. Not from his own life, which has been incredibly blessed.

No, I believe he learned his bitterness in the university, where leftist professors filled his head with Marxist jargon. Marx published “Das Kapital” in 1867 and the “Communist Manifesto” in 1888, but those who swallow its notions call themselves “progressive.” How it is “progressive” to move backwards a century and a half to ideas that have been disproved? They don’t say.

Of course, Kaepernick probably listened to Democratic politicians echoing the propaganda of Black Lives Matter. Serving as a positive role model of success was not enough for him. But protesting was his right under the First Amendment, was it not? Yes, but what about respect – respect for those who died or lost limbs fighting for that flag, and for those who try to stand in their wheelchairs for that anthem?

But what if a player showed up wearing a “Make America great again” cap, or a Trump button, or even an “All lives matter” T-shirt? Imagine the uproar. There would be boycotts of 49ers games. There would be calls for his firing.

Yes, the First Amendment guarantees freedom of expression. It guarantees freedom to march around with Mexican flags in an American high school – but not to wear American flag T-shirts. It guarantees the right to publicly disrespect the National Anthem – but not to wear a pro-Trump cap. You see, the First Amendment has limits – limits set by the leftist “elite.”

Of course, the First Amendment also guarantees the right to boo when players kneel, the right to walk out ‒ as did Vice President Pence, the right not to attend games, and the right to turn off the TV. And many people are exercising these rights, as NFL owners are discovering to their sorrow. The right to kick a hornets’ nest carries with it the right to be stung.

Kaepernick could have served as an excellent role model himself – a mixed-race kid adopted by a white couple, then achieving great success by his own efforts. But apparently he chose his own role model – Michael Brown, the 285-pound, 6 foot 5 inch “gentle giant” strong-arm robber of a skinny Arab shopkeeper and attacker of a police officer. Whom we choose as a role model says a lot about us.

Are the National Anthem and the flag symbols of racism? Only to one steeped in leftism. In fact, they are the symbols of the one-third of a million white men and boys who died in the Civil War to end slavery. They are symbols of all those who fought and died to end Nazi tyranny and Japanese imperialism. And they are symbols of the 101st Airborne and U.S. Marshals when they desegregated Southern schools. One who does not understand this is both an ingrate and an ignoramus.

101st Airborne desegregates Central High School
Little Rock, 1957

U.S. Marshals escort Ruby Bridges to school
New Orleans, 1960

In refusing to stand for the National Anthem, NFL players are expressing hostility not toward racism, or even toward American racism, but toward America itself – the source of their freedom and good fortune. That is the very essence of ingratitude.

Ingratitude is a really enjoyable pastime. It enables us to feel good about ourselves while defaming our political enemies. It allows us to feel morally superior while hurling the vilest insults at anyone who holds a different opinion. It motivates us to insult the very flag and National Anthem that exemplify our freedom to express ourselves. Where else can you get a deal like that?

As I read the story of Colin Kaepernick, it seemed oddly familiar. A biracial child is abandoned by his black father. Despite this, the boy idealizes the absent biological father and identifies as black. The boy is raised in comfortable circumstances and given a college education. He takes advantage of his opportunities, and through his own talents rises to a leadership position. Nevertheless, he resents the homeland that provided those opportunities, emphasizes its failings rather than its successes, and shows his resentment by disrespecting its flag and its National Anthem.

Oh wait ‒ now I remember where I heard that story before. Maybe the problem didn’t begin when Colin Kaepernick decided to disrespect the anthem. Maybe it began long before, when a more prominent person decided to do the same.

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