Thursday, September 29, 2016

Not Even Close

You're taking it way too seriously, Mr. President.  Politico reports that when asked Wednesday about the San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback

“Sometimes out of these controversies, we start getting into a conversation, and I want everybody to listen to each other,” Obama said. “So I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee, I want them to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat, and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing.”

The president added, however: “I also want people to think about the pain that he may be expressing about somebody who’s lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot.”

Kaepernick has thought about such pain in taking the advice of a former colleague and Green Beret to kneel in respect rather than sit.  Additionally, his protest has nothing to do with the military.  "The draft is gone," Boomani Jones wrote a month ago, "but we’ve all been conscripted as unquestioning devotees whose gratitude can be demanded by anyone at any time. Kaepernick wasn’t addressing the military, but that was widely and predictably inferred."  (We're looking at you, Mr. President.)  He recognized

the most disingenous answers tend to come from those who defend his right to ignore the national anthem while making sure the world knows there were better ways for him to makehis point, while, of course, stopping short of addressing the point itself.

Yesterday, Obama asked people to contemplate pain, not issues. A month ago, Jones on ESPN's "Mike and Mike" explained

That's a dirty, historical trick with all this- that I didn't like the way you said it. It's very important for us to understand we asked him about not standing for the National Anthem... The statement was not in not standing for the Anthem. Not standing for the Anthem is actually a neutral act. Standing for the Anthem is a statement. That doesn't mean that not standing is necessarily a statement. The statement is in his words.

In print or on broadcast medium, Jones understood that sitting or kneeling for the National Anthem is not the revolutionary act supporters, critics, or- now- President Obama imply it is. So, too, does the man who does what he does better than anyone in the world. Noting that he himself will stand for the Anthem, Lebron James remarked

I'm all in favor of anyone, athlete or non-athlete, being able to express what they believe in a peaceful manner and that's exactly what Colin Kaepernick is doing and I respect that....  You have the right to voice your opinion, stand for your opinion and he's doing it in the most peaceful way I've ever seen someone do something.

Quiet dignity is not prized in today's culture, including in professional sports, and should be welcomed in the rare insances in which it's demonstrated. Whatever his views of racial justice or criminal justice, Colin Kaepernick is not grandstanding, strutting for the camera, or displaying a lack of respect for the military. President Obama probably knows all this, and he shouldn't pretend otherwise.

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