Wednesday, September 28, 2016
“America the Great….?”
That is the simple answer to that inquiry, but where many want to put a period, there should probably be a comma. Yes, America is great and there is no place else I’d rather live. Does that mean America is perfect? No. Of course there is room for improvement. Of course we can reach greater heights and continually become better than we are. Not only can we do this, but we absolutely should do this….we are, after all, America!
Why should any of this even be a question?
Well…current events are bringing the character of America to the forefront. Colin Kaepernick has, by his refusal to stand for the national anthem, brought the issue of police brutality against minorities (really, in general) to the forefront of a discussion that was formerly not even being had. The seemingly daily incidents of black people being killed by police is being injected into the leisure time of many (as this is being talked about on various sports outlets), and the backlash is very telling.
I’m personally stunned at all the attention Kaepernick himself is getting instead of the reason why he has chosen to bring such attention to himself. Many are offended by his refusal to stand for the anthem citing his disrespect for the country, veterans (although there are many that support his position), and police. Few of these same people seem to have any outrage when a black man is killed with his hands up while not in the process of committing a crime.
So…it seems the way many in America are choosing to deal with all this is to simply change the subject. Obviously it all just goes away if you ignore it…except, it really doesn’t…and you really can’t.
I saw a video on social media by Mike Slater of AM 760 KFMB on the subject and was just flabbergasted by many of the points he made. He brought up the fact that Kaepernick is adopted (which does not address recent police brutality). He mentioned many programs that help inner city youth (which does not address recent police brutality). He mentioned Frederick Douglass calling America “righteous” (which does not address recent police brutality). He even mentioned one of the leaders of Black Lives Matter taking a crash course in law enforcement to understand the other side of all this (which does not address recent police brutality). He brought up black-on-black crime (which does not address recent police brutality). He even had the audacity to end his segment by saying “I only have time for people making a positive difference”…as if bringing attention to recent police brutality in hopes of correcting this issue is not positive. Perhaps we should just ignore the issue and simply continue to let people be killed unjustly by police? Yes…that seems positive.
The backlash has been visceral…all over the national anthem.
Well, Kaepernick’s protest has even brought the anthem itself into the discussion and much of what has been revealed is astounding. Forget the fact it was written by a slaveowner and the third stanza actually talks about killing runaway slaves, let’s talk about how it even came to be a part of the NFL ritual as observed today.
Until 2009 no players stood for the anthem because no players were even on the field when it was being played. They were moved to the field as a marketing scheme (yes, scheme) to make them look more patriotic, as the US Department of Defense and the US National Guard paid the NFL more than $10 million (combined) between 2011 and 2015 to stage on-field patriotic ceremonies as part of a military recruitment budget line item (#paidpatriotism).
America is great, but it is not flawless…and we do not have to simply accept the flaws when the very identity of being an American means we strive to correct them. There is a segment of the nation that doesn’t want correction, they simply want to bask in a false image of a “perfect” country and lambaste anyone that interrupts that image with reality. They care more about what Kaepernick is doing than why he is doing it. They are more outraged by their perceived disrespect of our flag, than the blatant civil violations of the citizens that flag represents.
I have faith that America will move forward despite these people wanting to hold it back. It’s what America has always done and must continue to do if being “great” is going to continue to be a statement instead of a question.