So, Colin Kaepernick, you're sitting out the national anthem. You seem proud of yourself. In fact, your butt, or location of same, seems to be the biggest story in the country this week.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he says.
How ironic can you get?
By disrespecting it, Mr. Kaepernick, you've gone and proven just how fundamentally great America is.
That flag, and the nation it stands for, is dedicated to the very ideal that all people have a right to freely speak their beliefs. That flag protects the very people who protest it, and a lot of lives have been given to ensure that it does.
You have every right to your opinion, Mr. Kaepernick. You are fortunate enough to live in a country where everyone can say what they will, ungrateful or otherwise. But be warned, you also have to live with the consequences of your actions.
You are a performer, who ultimately works for an audience. That audience, or at least a sizable part of it, may not be eager to continue to pay for your lavish lifestyle in order to watch you insult their country. Companies may choose more patriotic spokespersons for their endorsement checks. And that's freedom, too, Colin.
Here's the thing. You're not wrong - but you have chosen a strange way to express your concerns. Your actions distract and distort your message, and create more backlash than understanding.
Racial issues are a very valid discussion in this country at this point in history, and lives have indeed been tragically lost on the streets. If you follow the news, Mr. Kaepernick, you realize that they have not just been black citizens shot by police - but black police shot by citizens. Google "Officer Montrell Jackson," Colin. Maybe you should protest for his tiny son having to grow up without a father. That's oppressive.
Bashing police is as easy as bashing a flag you don't seem to care about. And neither one solves anything. You haven't had to deal with what officers do on the streets, and you haven't had to defend the flag. It would be wise to have some respect for those who do.
It's going to be hard for people to take seriously your little sit-in over "oppression" when you are sitting on a contract for over a hundred million dollars and an estate with two pools, but to be fair, being immensely privileged doesn't mean that one can't recognize the pain of others who are less fortunate.
We understand too, Colin, that it is no more right for people to respond to your action with racist hate messages on Twitter or burning your jersey in effigy. That doesn't address anything either.
If people don't like what you are saying or doing, good, they should say so. But to call it un-American isn't exactly correct - protesting what one believes is wrong, and speaking one's mind, is nearly the definition of American.
You can debate whether athletes should be role models, but the reality is that we do make heroes and celebrities of sports figures. We give them a stage and create an environment of adoration that rewards them a world more than we ever would think of paying a police officer, a soldier, a social worker or a teacher, who frankly, do more important work than football.
Mr. Kaepernick, you have opportunity. You have cameras on you every day, you have the ear of reporters any time you desire, you have countless people hanging on every syllable you post on social media.
You can initiate a real conversation of value on race issues, you can propose solutions if you think you have them. Instead you sit. Why should we care if some fading football player sits or stands? Will that change anything?
You are not Mohammed Ali, or even Tommie Smith or John Carlos with their firsts raised in the '68 Olympic Games. These are different times. Times that call for dialogue. times that yearn for unity.
The thing is, Mr. Kaepernick, a person can speak out about a need for societal change, without insulting their country, their flag, and the people who protect it.
I've seen people struggle out of wheelchair to stand for the national anthem at a ball game. I would be ashamed if I did not join them. That doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means we are willing to stand, together for what we believe in.
Let's have this conversation about equality, and waste no more time with one over the actions of a spoiled athlete. I will defend your right to sit, Mr. Kaepernick, but that doesn't make it right.