Dear Crabby, Is Sitting During the National Anthem Un-American?

Dear Crabby,

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem because as he put it, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Do you think not standing for the national anthem is un-American?

Thanks,
Paulina Paz

Dear Ms. Paz,

Yes, it is un-American. If you don’t stand for the national anthem you’re a horrible person who should vacate the US of A immediately! I’m kidding… mostly, but that’s sure what it feels like in a situation like this. Personally, I thought he was sitting down because he didn’t expect to get much playing time. But over the last week of watching and reading this story replayed hundreds of times (doesn’t the NFL have some sort of replay rule?) there seem to be two camps of thought. First are the group I’ll call the Offense.

They’re basically saying Kaepernick has the right, or the freedom of speech, to say or act however he wants. Let’s not forget that he’s hardly the first athlete to take a stand against something he didn’t agree with. I think we’re all familiar with the black power salute that was given by African Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Smith has since said that what he did was more of a human rights salute. Either way, it made a pretty powerful political statement. Now back in the 1980s, some Detroit Tigers’ fans may remember Lou Whitaker and Chet Lemon refusing to stand for the national anthem on the grounds that it was against their religion (they are Jehovah’s Witness). Lemon told the Detroit Free Press in a 1987 article, “But the national anthem is a ritual. You have to think about what’s being said… Others all over DearCrabbyAmerica don’t do it for different reasons, and a lot of them don’t understand why and don’t understand why we don’t, either.” And that’s the crux of what the Offense is saying, ‘It’s great that we do this, but in a country so diverse, it’s going to mean different things to different people and we have the freedom to express those differences.’ Now on the other side is the Defense.

These are the folks that absolutely feel what Kaepernick did was wrong. Period. I’d say the veterans are the most vocal when it comes to this. Since this is a family-friendly publication, I can’t print most of what I’ve heard from vets regarding this issue. But the gist is they’re ticked that a well-paid athlete would treat what they’ve fought to defend so cavalierly. One vet went so far to tell me that ‘ol Colin seems to have forgotten all the Union soldiers that died during the Civil War with the goal of ending slavery for millions and that in modern times, the thousands of African Americans who have served and died for the USA. She ended her rant with ‘You made one hell of a statement. Read you, Lima Charlie.’ You’ll have to look that last part up. Now, let me tell you what I think! I can remember when I was a kid people bellyaching about the President and my dad saying to me, ‘Son. You may not like the person IN the Oval Office, but you need to find a way to respect what the Presidency stands for.’ And I think that same sentiment could apply here. None of us like turning on the news and hearing about another shooting, another young life taken too soon, or those in power abusing it. But compared to a lot of other countries, we’ve got it pretty good. Like us, the national anthem isn’t perfect, but it represents an ideal that our country has hung its hat on for hundreds of years. Kaepernick said he wanted to draw attention to the issues that are plaguing our country? Fine. But how many articles, new reports, etc. have actually done that since he took his stand, err, seat? All the focus has been on him. So, I’d say if he’d like to truly affect change, he might want to change his tactics. I hear that fella Martin Luther King, Jr. had some good ideas on the subject. Perhaps Kaepernick should do some research and pick up a few tips.

Hope that answers your question and… GO LIONS!
Dear Crabby

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Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at DearCrabby@rochestermedia.com.

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