Monday, September 25, 2017

My Two Cents ... on Colin Kaepernick, the Bigot-In-Chief, Taking A Knee, and The National Anthem

Is the president a racist? I don’t know, though I’m beginning to believe that if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, we oughta just slip a white sheet over its head and call it a racist.

I mean, this is the man who called brown-skinned people from Mexico drug dealers, rapists and murderers.

This is the man who called brown skinned people from the Middle East terrorists and tried to ban them from coming to this country.

And, yes, this is the same man who watched a group of white supremacists and neo-Nazis and Klan members march though Charlottesville, Virginia, and said some of the are nice people.

But, this week, a brown skinned man, an African American man, a professional athlete who is using his position to protest racial inequality in this country by taking a knee during the National Anthem is a “son of a bitch” who should be fired.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sensing a theme here: white people are good, while brown people are drug dealing, terroristic, sons-of-bitches ... at least according to the Bigot-In-Chief.

Now, to be fair, _____ did make these latest asinine remarks about Colin Kaepernick’s First Amendment right to Free Speech and protest, in Alabama, where, for the most part, people of color are still “those” people, so he was clearly pandering to his audience. But I’m here to tell you that, as a white man, and I am really really white, I would rather take a knee with Kaepernick than stand alongside a president who is trying to divide this country into us—white—and them—everyone else.

And it all began so innocently; _____ was supposed to be campaigning in Alabama for Senator Luther Strange and, as he does, he drifted off-topic to ask his crowd, his base, his Deplorables, if they’d “love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired’?”

Fired, for taking a stand in this country? That’s the America that _____ wants to go back to, the so-called ‘Great’ America; where people cannot speak out against injustice, racial inequality, lest a man who is oh so patriotic he avoided the draft five times because his feet hurt, a man who is so patriotic he’s never lifted a finger to help anyone at any time, anywhere ever in this country, unless it served him first.

That’s our Bigot-In-Chief, but, luckily, as we saw yesterday, a majority of athletes all across this country took a knee with Kaepernick instead of standing alongside a man who decries Free Speech unless it comes from a Nazi.

 But what is it about the national anthem? I mean, why can’ Colin Kaepernick just carry a protest sign, or work with the Black Lives Matter Movement, start a charity to raise awareness, offer to work with the African American community and the police departments ... all of which he has done; but why the National Anthem ...

Perhaps it’s because Colin Kaepernick if one of the few people that know all the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” For most of us, the song is a couple of lines about rockets and flags and being proud:
Oh say can you see,
By the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed,
At the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched,
Were so gallantly streaming.
And thy rocket's red glare,
Thy bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night,
That our flag was still there.
Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
The story, as I remember it, was that the song writer, Francis Scott Key, was a prisoner on a British ship during the War of 1812 and wrote this poem while watching the American troops battle back the invading British in Baltimore. That, however, is not quite the whole story ...

Francis Scott Key was an aristocrat, city prosecutor in Washington, D.C., a slave-owner and an anti-abolitionist; he believes that blacks were mentally inferior, and so their masters should treat them with more Christian kindness. And, should slavery end, he didn’t want the free blacks to stay here, in his country; he wanted them to go home, to Africa.

And, since he didn’t think highly of black men, he was clearly unnerved at the idea of the Colonial Marines, a battalion of runaway slaves who fought with the British Royal Army in exchange for their freedom. These black men were not only a terrifying example of what slaves would do if allowed to fight for their freedom, but also an affront to the white superiority theory that men like Francis Scott Key believed in.

All of this came to a boiling point at the Battle of Bladensburg, where Key was serving as a lieutenant when he came upon a battalion of Colonial Marines. His troops were overtaken by the very black folks Key loathed, and he ran home in Georgetown to avoid capture. But those black troops, along with the British forces, marched into Washington, D.C., burning the Library of Congress, the Capitol Building and the White House, all of which was much too much for Francis Scott Key.

And so how do we get to Francis Scott Key as a prisoner on a boat in Baltimore where he wrote that poem? Well, we don’t, really; in fact, far from being a captive, Francis Scott Key willingly went aboard a British ship to beg for the release of his friend, William Beanes. And Key was on that ship watching the bloody battle of Fort McHenry—a battle that American forces lost, though they managed to inflict heavy casualties on the British—when the idea struck him for what would become “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

Rockets red glare; bombs bursting in air; the flag was still there. It’s all so anthemic and pride-inducing, except most of us don’t know that Key wrote a full third stanza denouncing those former slaves who fought with the British army:
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
In other words, Key hoped that the blood of those former slaves, those “hirelings”, would wash away the pollution of the British invaders; he wanted those black men dead. And yet we stand for his words? Well, at least since 1931, when “The Star Spangled Banner” was officially designated the national anthem; and ever since then, from time to time, people in this country have debated the suitability of its lyrics, from its militaristic tone, to its apparent joy at the death of slaves.

What about a change? I mean, it’s been the anthem less than a hundred years; why not a switch to “God Bless America" and "America the Beautiful". At least those songs don’t celebrate battle and the murder of freed slaves.

Yet here we are, still asking people to stand for that song because we’ve forgotten, or never knew, or simply ignored, the meaning behind the lyrics and the temperament and feelings of the man who wrote it. And yet here we are, asking Colin Kaepernick, or any person of color, or any person who decries any form of racism, to stand for that?
Colin Kaepernick made his decision, during the 2016 NFL pre-season, to kneel, in part, because of a slew of police-involved shooting deaths of black men, including Philando Castile and Alton Sterling:
"I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed."
To stand up for people who are oppressed, and who can no longer stand up for themselves ... and yet we have a president who denounces that stance, who calls Kaepernick a “son of a bitch,” but said nothing, nothing, about a white supremacist who ran down Heather Heyer with his car in Charlottesville this summer.

Kaepernick, however, isn’t the only one to protest; other black NFL stars, like Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch and Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, are also taking a knee, or sitting down, or raising a fist, when the anthem plays.

And it isn’t just the black players; Jenkins' teammate, Chris Long, who is white, put his arm around Jenkins in solidarity when Jenkins raised his fist before a preseason game last month. Long, who is vocal about his political views, played college ball in Charlottesville, at the University of Virginia:
"I think it's a good time for people who look like me to be here for people fighting for equality."
And there has been a fight for equality since forever, for all kinds of people, black, female, gay, lesbian, Muslim; why not have a song that doesn’t denounce any one group, or sing praises upon the death of that one group? Think about the black athlete who put it like this:
"I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag. I know that I am a black man in a white world."
No, that’s not Colin Kaepernick in 2016; that was Jackie Robinson, beloved baseball pioneer and civil rights activist, who wrote those words in his 1972 autobiography, "I Never had It Made."

Kaepernick simply took Robinson’s words and put them into action, by sitting during the pre-game anthem and saying he would not stand "to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."

Yet he’s a son of a bitch; he’s called un-American, and worse; he’s been told he is disrespecting our military men and women—though those men and women have actually fought for the very rights that Kaepernick is using, Freedom of Speech.

And yesterday, on CNN, one of _____’s henchmen, Steve Mnuchin, said Kaepernick, and any others who would not stand, are also disrespecting first responders; but when did the anthem start applying to first responders and members of the military and not to all of us, no matter our skin color?

There is no disrespect, unless it’s disrespectful to stand for a song that celebrates slavery, and glories in the death of slaves.

Colin Kaepernick is not alone; more and more athletes are following suit, and more and more people are talking about the issues he’s brought forth—which is a good thing; his stance even caught the eye of former NASA astronaut, and former NFL player, Leland Melvin, who released this statement after hearing _____ speak in Alabama the other night:
“To Donald _____
I believe in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of this country even though at the time they were drafted, their tenets of life, liberty justice for all and eventual freedom of speech, religion, assembly, press and petition amendment ratified in Dec 1791, only applied to a select group of people and not ones that looked like me.Donald Trump, I listened to your Alabama rally rant and could not believe how easily you say what you say.
We have become numb to your outlandish acts, tweets and recent retweet of you knocking down Hillary Clinton with a golf ball that you hit.
Donald Trump, your boorish and disgusting actions are not funny. They actually promote violence against women especially when your followers act out what you say.
I used to walk the grounds of UVA in Charlottesville, VA as a graduate student only to watch in horror as those same grounds became a battlefield being trod by Nazi and anti-Semitic worshippers armed with assault style weapons ready to fight to make America White again. (their words). You actually said there were nice people on both sides. People armed and ready to kill other Americans for the purpose of eradicating Blacks, Jews, Hispanics, Mexicans, Asians, Latinas and even the first real Americans, Native Americans to make America Great Again were “nice people”?
Comparing this to what you say in condemnation of an unarmed black man peacefully protesting by exercising his constitutional First Amendment rights by silently taking a knee is appalling, unnerving and reprehensible.
Today, you called Colin Kaepernick “a son-of-a-bitch.”
You said he should be fired.
You are calling his white mother a bitch.
The strong contrast in language for a black man and a Nazi is very telling. Do you have any sense of decency or shame in what you say to the American people that are part of your duty to serve respectfully with dignity, presidentially?
Our National Anthem has been edited to try not to offend, because when Francis Scott Key penned the song he watched freed slaves fighting for the British and wrote this stanza:
“And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
I guess if I were a slave back then I probably would have done anything to obtain freedom from my American oppressors who were whipping, killing, raping, dismembering, hanging or releasing the dogs on people like me all under our Constitution.
In 1814 former slaves fought with the British for their freedom from their American enslavers.
Key witnessed a battle from a ship off the Maryland shore at Fort McHenry, which inspired him to write what became our National Anthem.
I served my country not in the military, but as 1 of 362 American Astronauts that have explored the universe to help advance our civilization. Not just Americans, but all humans. I also was briefly in the NFL and stood for the National Anthem with my hand over my heart. What makes us great is our differences and respecting that we are all created equally even if not always treated that way.
Looking back at our planet from space really helps one get a bigger perspective on how petty and divisive we can be. Donald Trump, maybe you should ask your good friend Mr. Putin to give you a ride on a Soyuz rocket to our International Space Station and see what it’s like to work together with people we used to fight against, where your life depends on it. See the world and get a greater sense of what it means to be part of the human race, we call it the Orbital Perspective.
Donald Trump, please know that you are supposed to be a unifier and a compassionate and empathetic leader. If you can’t do the job then please step down and let someone else try. I pray that you do the right thing.
May God bless you.
Leland Melvin
Former Astronaut and NFL Player”
Well said, sir, though, as we have seen since his campaign began, and since he took office, this particular president doesn’t listen to We The People ... he’s too busy riling up his base.

So, let’s let Colin Kaepernick’s mother have the last word. And though she started off with a bit of a laugh when _____ first went off, she came back strong. See, when she first heard the President of the United States call her son a “son of a bitch,” Teresa Kaepernick Tweeted:

And that spoke volumes, though Teresa Kaepernick wasn’t done:
“You know, I always say to my husband ... we don’t get too upset over most of this stuff anymore. He and I will look at each other and say, “We do lead an interesting life, I guess.” I mean, how else are you gonna look at it? I can’t be losing sleep over this kind of stuff. It’s disappointing that Trump is the president and talks the way he talks, though. It’s just incredibly disappointing. Rick and I had never been real political people, but prior to when all of the campaigning was going on, I mean, it didn’t take more than a minute to realize we didn’t want Donald Trump in the presidency. The guy is not all there, and I can’t tell you how shocked we were when he won, but we have been pretty vocal about it since long before Colin took a knee. So, we have some pretty strong feelings about that part of things. To see this man that you have no respect for, basically because of all that he’s done in this presidency so far, slandering my kid publicly ...
We didn’t watch his rally, I don’t watch rallies. He’s not playing to me anyway. But I saw on Twitter that he’d said it and I said to my husband, “What the heck,” and I looked to see what was said and I thought, “Aw man, this is just ridiculous that he continues to attack private citizens like this and continues to not be able to see what freedom of speech is and that he just refuses to acknowledge those kind of things.” Yet at the same time, in Charlottesville, he would not call out the Nazis, not call out the white supremacists, but he’s calling out these guys who are peacefully kneeling and asking for their country to do better.”
All Colin Kaepernick, and others, are asking is for us, as a country, as a people, as a world, as a president, to try and do better. Is that really so awful?

Don’t bother, that’s a rhetorical question; I’ll just go back to something I said earlier:

I’d rather take a knee with Colin Kaepernick than stand alongside this president.

Any day of the week.
The Daily Kos
Egberto Willies


the dogs' mother said...

An entire high school football team in Seattle
took a knee this weekend.
Good history lesson, Bob. :-)

Leeanna Henderson said...

So many players this weekend took the knee. I was so proud of them. One thing that made me mad was that certain people, mostly #45 supporters, couldn't or wouldn't understand why this was happening. It was like their puny bigoted brains couldn't figure it out.

Sadie J said...

Yes, so many 45 supporters completely miss the point, and don't even want to try.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Three cheers for Colin AND his mom!

anne marie in philly said...

"I would rather take a knee with Kaepernick than stand alongside a president who is trying to divide this country into us—white—and them—everyone else." HELL YEAH! ME TOO! RAISE THOSE FISTS HIGH!

ps - we don't need the national anthem played at sporting events; it's stupid. do away with it!

Frank said...

Wow. Quite an excellent post. I'll refer you and you readers to this link:

Even as a school kid I never felt comfortable with the Pledge of Allegiance or the Star Spangled Banner or any hollow ritual of patriotism. Somehow it all seemed so idolatrous.

Just as an aside. The man in the White House is a sociopath. So far, nothing he has done or said has resulted in universal outrage, let alone impeachment. Beware, he is a sociopath who delights in the anger of others, who relishes getting a rise out of his enemies while feeding off the admiration of his (duped and clueless) supporters.

Beware the sociopath. He has spent his life manipulating others and deflecting their anger and attacks. Our outrage, anger, and efforts in calling out his outrageous behavior only makes him bolder. He thrives on abuse because he has no feelings. His enemies and detractors mean nothing to him. They are non-entities. Just like the people who are suffering in Puerto Rico...they apparently mean nothing to him.

Protest, yes, but ultimately our tactics need to change. Beware the sociopath. We should be listening to people who know how to disarm sociopaths, if there are any. I'm feeling that we are all in great danger.

Mitchell is Moving said...

So proud of American athletes around the country now "taking the knee." Thanks for the fascinating history about Francis Scott Key. I had no idea and plan to read all about him tonight!

Bob Slatten said...

And you're right about the Bigot-In-Chief.
I did see a meme on Facebook that said something to the effect of:

Do you want to live in a country that MAKES you stand for the anthem,
or do you want to live in a country that makes you WANT to stand for it?

Dave R said...

Very, very nice.

Peter Maria said...

As for choosing a new song, I doubt that will happen until a few generations from now (assuming there: 1. Are any, and 2. They vote). Personally, I want "God" out of it (AND the Pledge of Allegiance), so I'm not crazy about either of the choices you give. How about "This Land is Your Land"?

I wonder if Key's song has undergone some revisions in order to make it more palatable? Has the 3rd verse been officially stricken, maybe, at least as part of the anthem? I'm feeling really bad right now, so I'm not up to a full google research session on the matter.

The reason I wonder is because Kentucky's state song, "My Old Kentucky Home", underwent some "updates" in 1986 due to the racist language embedded in some lyrics. I have no idea what verse (or perhaps even verses) were involved, but it/they used the words "darky" and "darkies". The legislature replaced them with "people". What's even better is that Stephen Foster wrote this song from the POV of a slave that had been sold to another slave-owner in the Deep South, and knows not only is he being separated forever from his family and perhaps the only home he has ever known, but is also likely going to be worked to death. Yet most people probably consider the song nothing more than a fond remembrance and desire to return to a "simpler time".

Helen Lashbrook said...

No-one on this side of the pond has to stand when the national anthem is played or salute the flag and over here kneeling is considered more respectful than standing. And what's more I wouldn't curtsey or bow to the queen - but then I'm a bit bolshy like that

Frank said...

I'll stand up and dance to "Surfin' USA" but only because I was madly in love with the Beach Boys in my youth.

P.S. I have no issue swearing to uphold the Constitution (getting a passport, etc.) but allegiance to a FLAG?, a piece of cloth? Give me a rainbow one. But I'm not going to worship it. And as you point out, being forced to participate in a ritual is not patriotism.

northierthanthou said...

The trouble with questions about what Trump really believes or thinks is that there is no evidence that he really thinks or believes anything. He is a steady stream of statements calculated to please his chosen audience, and the audience he is clearly trying to please consists of bigots. In my book that makes him a racist. I don't care if he doesn't believe a word of it. His public stance is racist. He is racist.

Bob Slatten said...

Your last few lines say it all!