You are not a standup guy if you are sitting down or “taking a knee.”
Now, Colin Kaepernick, you might be doing what President Obama has called your “Constitutional right.” However, your actions have fumbled the word “right.” And with $16 million coming to you as a San Francisco 49er quarterback, a second-string one at that, we hardly wonder why you aren’t a star in this league anymore.
You defy the national anthem and the flag by saying, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”
This is a country, meanwhile, that elected a person of color to be its commander-in-chief. Persons of color serve this nation in every capacity, protecting it and making it better. This is a country that affords opportunity for success and hope to people no matter their color or religion.
As Americans, we may be of different skin tones, but we share the colors red, white and blue.
We Jewish Americans will stand up in a heartbeat at an occasion where Hatikvah is played or sung. We might have, at times, personal disagreements with a prime minister’s decision or find differences in some religious practices, but we are still all Jews and inextricably tied to that anthem and flag. In Israel, Hatikvah is more than just verses of words. That anthem is an IsraAid medical team being the first in the world to respond to a Haitian earthquake. That flag with the Magen David represented numerous back-and-forth flights between Tel Aviv and Ethiopia to bring the vast majority of Jews there home. And that anthem will, with God’s help, always mean “welcome” to those Diaspora Jews who want to return.
For Jewish Americans, the American flag and national anthem provided a new way of life to millions of refugees from European pogroms and the ugly face of anti-Semitism.
Here in the United States, for all Americans of every color, the American flag and Star Spangled Banner represent the bravery of the men and women who gave their best, and for some their lives, as first responders 15 years ago on 9/11.
The anthem represents story after story of children going on to become the first in their family to graduate from college, because their parents worked and saved to better their children’s opportunities.
It represents the teachers, the nurses, doctors, social workers, police officers, firefighters and municipal workers who give so much back to the jurisdictions they serve. It is what motivates people to volunteer hours at the local elementary school, reading to the children or tutoring a high school student.
Mr. Kaepernick: You may know how to throw a football. But you were raised in a middle-class family. You should know better that, in this country, African Americans enrich the tapestry of this nation. Like any other group, the dreams and the hopes and, yes, the opportunities are the same.
So, get up off of your seat and be a standup guy, Mr. Kaepernick. We’re certain that there are plenty of places where you could stand up and read to young children. We’re sure that if you’d want to stand some more, you could probably join the many volunteers who serve food to homeless families with children who can’t afford the price of a ticket to watch you play football. And if you had to sit, maybe it would be to spend some time with wounded, hospitalized military veterans.
Last Sunday we were thinking about the first responders of all races and religions who raced up the stairs of the World Trade Centers.
We’ll never see them again. But we’ll always remember them.
They stood up.
You could be a real off-field asset in the Bay Area.
But as long as you sit….you’re nothing but a backup quarterback.
Get used to that bench.
By JLNJ Staff