Posts Tagged “militant patriotism”

Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers kneels on the sideline during the anthem prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys on October 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)This might seem a bit off-topic for my blog, but it’s a sterling example of a common form of irrationality, and as such, is quite relevant. So here goes!

By now most of my readers have heard the controversy about NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who last year aroused the sanctimonious ire of football fans around the country by first sitting, and then kneeling, through the national anthem as it was played prior to the start of games (Archive.Is cached article). It’s not for me to say whether he ought to have done this or not — he said it was to protest the killings of blacks by white cops — but many fans were outraged that he would do something so horribly anti-American. He became a free agent at the end of the year, and now arguably has been blackballed by the NFL because of his protests (cached).

Even so, the guy is an experienced (if far from stellar) quarterback, and since this is such a crucial position, naturally some teams may have to consider signing him.

One of those, at the moment, is the Baltimore Ravens. The team faces a little uncertainty where their “franchise” quarterback, Joe Flacco, is concerned (cached). Thus, the Ravens’ coach and G.M. have considered hiring the “undesirable” Kaepernick (cached); but the team’s owner reportedly doesn’t want him signed (cached).

The Ravens have denied this report, as might be expected (cached).

But let’s be honest: If owner Steve Bisciotti has, in fact, expressed disapproval for Kaepernick’s hire, there’s good reason for it: As CBS Sports reports, the team’s fans are fiercely opposed to the unemployed quarterback (cached):

If the Ravens decide to sign Colin Kaepernick, it’s a decision that might not sit well with their fan base.

According to NFL.com’s Mike Silver, Ravens fans have spent the past 24 hours letting the team know that they don’t want Kaepernick in Baltimore….

If teams are afraid of fan backlash, the the reaction in Baltimore isn’t going to help things. Fans also had a similar reaction in New York. Back in May, Giants co-owner John Mara said that fans in New York threatened to boycott his team if they decided to sign Kaepernick [cached].

The irrationality of Baltimore Ravens fans getting their panties in bunches over the (possible) hiring of Kaepernick becomes obvious, when one considers this is the team that was home to linebacker Ray Lewis for over a decade and a half … much of that time after he’d been present for a double homicide in 2000 (cached). Yes, that’s right: A double homicide! Although he was never convicted of murder or manslaughter, he did plead guilty to obstruction of justice (since he’d lied to investigators), and he settled with survivors of the deceased (cached). Yet, the Ravens and their fans were saddened by his retirement following the 2012 season, and the team sold Ray Lewis tribute shirts at the time (cached). These folk, then, are the ones who can’t tolerate Colin Kaepernick being on their team after his protests. Wonderful people, no? I’d call them “raging hypocrites,” but that might give actual “raging hypocrites” a bad name.

By comparison with Lewis’s involvement in a double homicide, which doesn’t appear to have cost him the adoration of Ravens fans, their anger against the prospect of hiring Kaepernick makes no sense. In fact, the national outrage he kicked up is virtually incomprehensible. Whether or not one agrees with Kaepernick, makes no difference: This is the United States, for fuck’s sake, and he has a right to protest things if he wants to. Protests are not “anti-American.” They are, instead, “pro-American,” because in America, protests are permissible. The US has a very old tradition of protest, which goes back prior to the country’s founding. There’s nothing wrong with any protest in which no one is hurt and nothing is damaged. The same can’t be said of what Ray Lewis had been up to on the night of January 30, 2000 (cached).

Please note, I only mentioned Lewis here because he was a dearly-beloved Raven. The list of other well-loved NFL players who’ve engaged in all sorts of wrongdoing — including criminal offenses — is legion. Few of them stir up the kind of vicious rage that, to date, has prevented Kaepernick from being hired. The best example I can think of is Michael Vick, who appeared unhireable after serving a prison sentence for animal cruelty, and who also faced the nation’s ire … but even he wound up returning to the NFL (cached).

The kind of militant nationalism that has kept Colin Kaepernick from playing football merely because he sat and kneeled through the national anthem is simply bizarre, when compared with the fact that even convicted felons have been embraced by the league. It’s just that simple.

P.S. I’m aware that Kaepernick’s ability is disputable. He had a couple good seasons, but is certainly no star quarterback. Many teams will pass on him simply because they have no place for him, or because they don’t think he will succeed with them. Sometimes a player is just not good enough to stay in the NFL (Tim Tebow, anyone?) I get that. What’s less comprehensible is why the NFL could take back people like Vick — or Baltimore fans could embrace Lewis — when both were guilty of crimes; yet the NFL has virtually blackballed Kaepernick, and Ravens fans are nearly in revolt over him, when all he did was to sit and kneel through the national anthem.

Photo credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images, via CBS Boston.

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