Welcome to Buster's Blog

Irregular commentary on whatever's on my mind -- politics, sports, current events, and life in general. After twenty years of writing business and community newsletters, fifteen years of fantasy baseball newsletters, and two years of email "columns", this is, I suppose, the inevitable result: the awful conceit that someone might actually care to read what I have to say. Posts may be added often, rarely, or never again. As always, my mood and motivation are unpredictable.

Buster Gammons

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Colin Kaepernick Black-lash

Colin Kaepernick is a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.  At a recent preseason game, he remained seated during the national anthem, as a personal protest against racial oppression and unwarranted police violence against African-Americans and minorities.  Kaepernick said, "This is bigger than football.  There are bodies in the street, and people are getting away with murder."  "I'm going to speak the truth."

The black-lash reaction from the right was swift, predictable and negative.  Kaepernick was "disrespectful."  Not standing for the anthem was "not the right way" to express himself.  (That's a favorite old crutch for conservatives -- for them, it's never the "right way" or the "right time" for anything.  But it's funny how they never say when it is right.)  

Online, Kaepernick was crucified for being all kinds of wrong -- the wrong messenger with the wrong message delivered in the wrong way.  He was a race-baiter; he was poorly coached; he's an unimportant second-string QB; he's a wealthy athlete who knows nothing.  (The right routinely dismisses the opinions of academics, Hollywood types, black athletes, and other likely non-Republicans.  The conservative attitude is that they should just shut up and teach, shut up and act, and shut up and play ball.)

The crucifiers are way off base.

Kaepernick's message is about our lingering racism.  It's not really debatable.  It should not be dismissed because of his income, his place on the 49ers' depth chart, or who his former coach was.  (I will grant that Jim Harbaugh is a dick.)  His message is not unpatriotic, and it doesn't disrespect the military or the entire nation.  (Alex Boone should STFU.)

What's left, then, is his delivery method -- sitting during the anthem.  You can do a lot of things, but, holy shit, you can't do that!  Actually, yes, you can.  There's no law against it, no NFL rule prohibiting it.  You can sit, you can lie down.  You can burn the flag if you like.  You'll face certain ostracism, but you are allowed to do it.

(Way back when, I went to school with a Jehovah's Witness.  She sat during the anthem and refused to say the pledge.  Nobody gave her any grief about it.  In today's internet age, she'd be trolled to death.)

Our flag is a symbol.  It symbolizes many things, including free speech.  Colin Kaepernick has a track record of speaking out on political issues and racism.  His message is serious and as valid as any, he comes by his opinions honestly enough, and he's reasonably exercising his free speech rights.

His team supports him, and you should too.  Get past the method, OK?

On rare occasions, a well-known athlete may be compelled to make a provocative gesture on the big stage in the service of big-picture ideals.  Muhammad Ali's refusal to be inducted into the military, and the raised fists of Tommy Smith and John Carlos in Mexico City come to mind.  At the time, white majority America was outraged.  Time has led to acceptance, understanding and admiration.

Although we're 50 years down the road from those days, and whites will soon be a minority, Colin Kaepernick is compelled to remind us that race relations still haven't changed enough.  Not by a long shot.  And most of the people so quick to denounce him are angry because, deep down, they know he's right.

By simply sitting down, Colin Kaepernick is standing up for what he believes.  Nothing could be more American.

Or is that too provocative for ya?



  1. Bomani Jones says, Now let’s be clear: Kaepernick’s stand will not change the world. Neither did Muhammad Ali’s, nor have very few individual actions. The dramatic acts of individuals sound good in history books, but rarely seem so in real time. What Kaepernick did won’t change America or even the NFL.

    So why do something to widen the division and pack it with salt only to make it sting more if it won't have an impact?
    Do something positive and start bringing people together. If that was his intent he simply chose the wrong path.
    Aren't you tired of seeing the divides in this country? We got to start bringing people together if we want to make progress.
    There are better ways, but no betters days if we don't start playing together!

    1. The fact that it triggered this much discussion I think qualifies as having an impact. Is it going to directly decrease the number of wrongful deaths at the hands of police? No, but in order to do that we need policy change, and in order to effect policy, the issue needs to be taken up by the majority. What he did clearly was affective in giving him a platform to speak through mainstream media. You can't play as a team when half the squad isn't given a jersey