September 26, 2017

Kaepernick's Protest Was Not About Trump

Colin Kaepernick in 2013When former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick infamously took a knee during the national anthem in 2016, he told us that he did so to protest police brutality against racial minorities. We should not be surprised that his statements about why he did what he did were quickly lost amidst the widespread outrage that followed. After all, people are not known for being terribly rational when they are outraged. More often than not, outrage leads one to abandon reason.

We should also not be surprised when the outrage took us far from Kaepernick's stated purpose. Many people seem to have great difficulty with subjects like racism and police brutality. It was much easier to be outraged over what some claimed was disrespect for the flag, the anthem, or for veterans. And yet, it seemed to me at the time that much of the outrage was really about Kaepernick not knowing "his place." So much for our post-racial society, I guess.

Here we are a little over a year later, and the dismantling of Kaepernick's protest has largely succeeded. President Trump has publicly criticized NFL players, they have responded, and we are talking about free speech and the right to protest, the significance of the flag, the national anthem, and respect for the military instead of talking about racism and police brutality. Those who are not interested in discussing racism or police brutality must be very pleased. Kaepernick's protest was not about Trump, but Trump has managed to make much of the current protests all about himself.