Can we all agree that “The Star Spangled Banner” is kind of a shitty song? It’s about violence and shit blowing up and gleefully murdering escaped slaves and flag fetishism. The lyrics were written by a slave owner who sought to silence abolitionists, and the melody is taken from a song by a British dude writing about a Greek poet who celebrated drinking and fucking. And, yeah, it’s hard to sing.
That said, it shouldn’t be an act of bravery that San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick stayed seated during the National Anthem at the team’s Saturday preseason game. Kaepernick used the moment to protest against police brutality, among other issues. Kaepernick explained, “People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody.” If anything, protesting in order to make this a better country is about as patriotic an act as one can do. The entire fuckin’ country exists because of protests that became an insurrection. And many of the people who started them were wealthy, like Kaepernick, and had a whole lot to lose if they failed.
Of course, we got the Neanderthal rage reaction of people burning their Kaepernick jerseys in opposition. We got other current and former NFL players saying shit like, “You should have some fucking respect for people who served[in the military], especially people that lost their life to protect our freedom,” as ex-49er, now Minnesota Viking Alex Boone put it.
That point, that Kaepernick not rising for the anthem is an insult to the troops, is usually followed by an explanation that the troops fight for the freedoms Kaepernick enjoys. As some spoogerag right-wing columnist scribbled, “Those paid handsomely by ticket-buying spectators need to holster their peevish political urges for the sixty seconds of expected respect for the nation that affords them that freedom.” That’s kind of an odd perspective since you can say, “Well, thanks. Now I’m gonna use that freedom. Oh, and, by the way, they’re also fighting for the freedom for you to tell me to fuck off. See how that works?”
Yes, yes, what about the troops, most of whom probably couldn’t give two dry fucks about Kaepernick? Some fucknut at the Daily Caller (motto: “Yes, we do have lots of links to tits. Tucker Carlson likes tits”) said, “Kaepernick should be a little more thankful for the men and women in uniform defending and protecting his life.” And a Gold Star mother was livid at Kaepernick, saying that her son “died protecting the ideals of the flag you refuse to respect. He died so that ungrateful, privileged, arrogant men like you can be just that – ungrateful, privileged, and arrogant.” To that you can say only that Americans dying in Afghanistan and Iraq have lost their lives because of the privilege and arrogance of those who started stupid, useless wars and perhaps she should be angrier at them than when a guy who throws a ball calls “Bullshit” on racism in the United States.
Other responses go even crazier, like “Colin Kaepernick has chosen to engage in an act of hate against the America of 2016,” as columnist Mark Davis puts it (he is the aforementioned spoogerag). Davis, like some of the other Kaepernick haters, is all in this election season for Donald Trump, a man who regularly talks about how terrible the nation is, how the president is something akin to a traitor, and how he is the only savior. Sure, it sounds scary and fascistic and un-American to the extreme, but, hey, at least he stands during the National Anthem, right?
Kaepernick’s seated ass is more patriotic than his critics’ entire bodies.
Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on August 29, 2016, on The Rude Pundit, a website featuring commentary by Lee Papa. It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Papa.