The Oarsman

Show Colin Kaepernick Some Respect

Joshua Fenty, Web Editor-in-Chief

Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem is not disrespectful because in doing so, he’s still paying respect to those who fight for our country. He’s rightfully unsatisfied with America’s current social and political state, but he still acknowledges that those who fight for our country are deserving of the utmost respect and there’s nothing wrong with that.

When you stand for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, you are symbolically agreeing that America stands up to its founding ideals of equality, rights, liberty, opportunity and democracy. As far as I’m concerned, America is not doing a good job of living up to any of those concepts. So how, then, is it wrong for anyone to kneel during the national anthem?

Today, we only sing the first verse of Star-Spangled Banner, but the original version written by a pro-slavery aristocrat by the name of Francis Scott Key in 1814 has a second verse. The verse is about the African-American slaves that joined the British Redcoats in the War of 1812 in exchange for their freedom. More specifically, it’s about how the slaves deserved to die for siding with the British, according to Jason Johnson in his article “Star-Spangled Bigotry: The Hidden Racist History of the National Anthem,” in the website The Root.

“‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is as much a patriotic song as it is a diss track to black people who had the audacity to fight for their freedom,” said Johnson in his article.

This little known history of the national anthem is something that I have no doubt about, but whether the song is racist has become a subjective matter.

To say that the national anthem is no longer racist because we no longer sing the second verse is like saying that if a glass is shattered and then swept under a rug, that the broken glass doesn’t exist anymore. No one should have to stand for a song that was written to disgrace their people.

Even if you ignore the fact that the national anthem itself is racist, you cannot deny the sheer amount of injustice that the black community has been dealt as of late. It’s 2017 and America- the supposed melting pot- still has major issues with racism. Then again, when your president and his large group of blindly loyal followers are every kind of bigot, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

It’s not that America isn’t a good country, because it is. But patriotism doesn’t mean being blindly loyal to one’s country. It means seeing what’s not so great about your country, pointing that out, and encouraging others to work to bring about change.

So in that sense, Kaepernick is more of a patriot than anyone who believes that his method of protest is traitorous and disrespectful.

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