I’ve always admired people with guts. Jesus of Nazareth, Martin Luther King and Sun Myung Moon come to mind.
It takes guts to kneel during a National Anthem when everyone is standing. That’s why I respect Colin Kaepernick and why I think you shouldn’t burn, or nuke, your Nikes.
In 2016 Colin Kaepernick, starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers football team, ignited a firestorm of controversy by choosing to kneel on one knee while the National Anthem played before the start of NFL games. He described the gesture as a protest against racial injustice and police violence in the US.
Recently, Nike opened a new ad campaign and chose Kaepernick, under contract with Nike since 2011, as one of its faces. The campaign includes giant billboards of Kaepernick’s face with the caption: Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. Just do it.
Many are still upset with Kaepernick because they felt his protest disrespected the flag. Former fans boycotted the NFL. Now, some are calling for all of us to burn our Nikes because the new ad clearly supports Kaepernick.
To me, taking a knee is a sign of respect. In certain churches you take a knee when you enter the house of God. It’s called genuflecting. On the playing field you take a knee when someone is injured.
If you burn a flag, that’s disrespectful. If you urinate or otherwise defile a flag, that’s disrespectful. If a player were to turn his back on the flag, that would be disrespectful. But to me,taking a knee looks like a carefully considered, non-violent protest in the honorable tradition of Rosa Parks and MLK.
If you took a knee during a National Anthem in North Korea or Turkey, I’m guessing you would be arrested and end up in a prison or labor camp. But America, founded on an extremely gutsy gesture of protest called the Declaration of Independence, long ago made protest a part of its national DNA, with the right to freedom of speech and expression being embedded in its constitution, along with the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
So don’t burn your Nikes! Isn’t that just adding to the violence?