I have been studiously trying to ignore the Colin Kaepernick flap, but the media doesn’t seem to want to let it die. Kaepernick is exercising a right that was won with the blood of American soldiers over a span of two centuries. That’s right. Our armed services have fought, bled, and died to insure his right to act like the north end of a southbound horse if he really and truly wants to do so. That’s the beauty of America. People are able to exercise their freedom of speech in incredibly offensive ways without fear of the government stepping in and hauling them off to a concentration camp. They may be ostracized by their peers; they may lose lucrative endorsement contracts; controversy-shy employers may fire them; but they are safe from government reprisal.
And on the scale of 10-1 for subversiveness to the established order, Kaepernick’s action rates about a minus 2. Make no mistake, what he is doing is more an act of petulance than of courage. For comparison purposes, consider the gentleman in this photograph:
This gentleman’s refusal to give the Nazi salute didn’t risk loss of an endorsement contract; it risked loss of his very life. I salute his courage, and I hope he didn’t wind up in a death camp. The only physical injury Kaepernick risks by his refusal to stand for the National Anthem is splinters in his backside. I do not salute his courage, and if he needs tweezers to remove those splinters he won’t be getting them from me.
Senator Sam Ervin of Watergate fame has been quoted as saying that “the Constitution gives a man the right to make a damn fool of himself.” Paul R. Clancy, Just a Country Lawyer: A Biography of Senator Sam Ervin, p. 256. Kaepernick is exercising that right to the hilt. Why do I say that he is making a fool of himself? Kaepernick says he is upset about mistreatment of people of color by police officers, therefore he isn’t going to stand for the National Anthem. Apparently he flunked Civics in high school. The local police don’t work for the Federal Government; they work for state and local agencies which are controlled by different sovereignties (the states) than the United States Government. The Constitution was set up to give the United States Government limited power to oversee the day-to-day activities of state sovereignties. And anyone who has kept track of the news knows full well that the United States Government, in the form of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, agrees with Kaepernick and is doing what it can to prevent mistreatment of people of color by local law enforcement officers. See, for example, the Justice Department reports on the Baltimore Police Department and the Ferguson Police Department.
So Kaepernick decides to speak out against mistreatment of people of color by law enforcement officers, and he decides to do so by disrespecting the government which is trying to prevent mistreatment of people of color by law enforcement officers. If that’s not the definition of a damn fool, I don’t know what is. All of which puts me in mind of a remark Macbeth made just before Macduff ran him through with a sword: Kaepernick’s protests is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Macbeth 5:5. So let’s all start worrying about something significant and forget about Colin Kaepernick’s illogical protest.