Taking a Knee to Make a Stand: Is there a better way?

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In this Oct. 2, 2016 file photo, from left, San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold, quarterback Colin Kaepernick and safety Eric Reid kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against  the Dallas Cowboys in Santa Clara, Calif. (Marcio Jose Sanchez, File/AP)

In this Oct. 2, 2016 file photo, from left, San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold, quarterback Colin Kaepernick and safety Eric Reid kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Santa Clara, Calif. (Marcio Jose Sanchez, File/AP)

Colin Kaepernick, with hair eclipsed only by his bank account these days, just struck a deal with Nike worth an estimated seven figures. In doing so, Nike has hitched its wagon to the epitome of failed movements in a misguided effort to unify a divided America and of course, garner revenue-generating publicity in the lowest of schemes.

In 2016, four years after he couldn’t be found kneeling to run out the clock in a Super Bowl victory, Colin Kaepernick could be found kneeling for a different, more valiant reason. He was taking a knee to stand for oppressed African-Americans who were being victimized by racist police officers with a blood-thirsty penchant for murdering unarmed black kids. At least, that’s what he says happened.

There has been no evidence to support the claim that America is suffering from an epidemic of institutional racism within the police force, but if someone could provide it, I would be more than happy to stand beside them in fighting the good fight for equal treatment and opportunity for all Americans. In fact, that’s what the American flag stands for.

While there are certainly instances of police brutality that I find to be abhorrent and disgraceful , there is simply no evidence to suggest that the actions of these officers are rooted in racial animosity as opposed to incompetence. Nevertheless, I take no issue with the action of Americans peacefully protesting in the name of racial equality.

I take issue with the venue of their protests.

America, while certainly imperfect, is the greatest country on Earth because she provides her citizens with equal opportunity and sweet freedom to pursue any dream one can conjure. The NFL players are not wrong to take action against the perceived injustice with which they take fault, but they are dead wrong to commit sacrilege against the single most beautiful and sacrosanct honor we as Americans can take part in as one people.

During the National Anthem, Americans stand together as one to honor the flag which represents the freedoms, the rights, and the opportunities that the greatest Americans who ever lived have sacrificed their lives to build and protect during battle. And, in taking a knee, the players piss on it.

It is in this respect, that the players have missed an opportunity to accomplish that which they sought all along.

You see, the Anthem was the great unifier of our country for centuries. Americans of all race, gender, economic status, and even Giants fans, stood as one melting pot of love and respect for their home, complete with its glorious liberties and imperfections. It is here that the players, not Donald Trump, divided our country.

It is here that they overshot their target more so than Eli Manning.

It is fair to say that, with the exception of the asinine extremists of the alt-right, Americans want for their country that which its flag represents, namely, equality and opportunity for all.

The players have hijacked our beautiful ceremony and dragged it through the mud, much to the ire of any red-blooded American who loves his or her country. All they had to do was enhance the unifying message of the Anthem by simply linking arms in a display of support for their brothers on the field. Instead, by kneeling, they’ve pitted America-loving Americans against America-loving Americans.

Colin Kaepernick is not a hero. He is not a role model. He is the beneficiary of a mainstream media lacking the discipline to objectively report the news, void of its twisted, leftist agenda. My heroes are men and women like Pat Tillman, those who have sacrificed their football careers and their lives to protect this land that allows Kaepernick to protest in the first place. If those men tell me they don’t mind the kneeling, well, then I respectfully disagree, but they’ve assuredly earned the right to say it’s acceptable. When Colin Kaepernick takes bullets instead of endorsements, then he can tell me that kneeling isn’t a disgrace.

Nike’s exploitation of the media’s willingness to portray Kaepernick as a champion of civil rights is the latest in this botched movement’s failure to unify America. We want to oust racism from this country, but this is the wrong way to go about it. Instead of uniting the people for a common cause, Kaepernick has sown seeds of division tighter than the seams of NFL jerseys being burned for this great country.


Kevin Catapano is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at kevin.catapano@uconn.edu.

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