Colin Kaepernick: Dissent is a Form of Patriotism

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The Star-Spangled Banner – a patriotic symbol of America, and of our freedom. In 2016, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick kneeled on the sidelines during the playing of our national anthem, creating controversy and raising questions on his patriotism for this country. His decision to kneel during this time was meaningful to him and was his way of standing up for what he believed in- whether the media, fans, players, or coaches agreed with him or not.

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His stand against the national anthem, and his reasoning for kneeling was based on his belief of America and was aimed to draw attention to police brutality and violence against those of other colors and races. Kaepernick was speculated in the media for quite some time and ended up as a free agent later because of his peers disagreeing, and not wanting him on their team because of his stand. Kaepernick has had to reiterate his actions to show that it’s not about his lack of love for this country, or lack of patriotism, but the overall principles of American freedom and “justice for all”. What Kaepernick did, and his stand for Black Lives Matter, has spread nationwide and has reiterated an old lesson: courage.

His continuance of kneeling stirred tension between his image and the public- becoming a significant factor in his damaged public image. His stand for what he believed in soon spread onto social media- twitter memes, burning and trashing of Kaepernick jerseys and gear. Because of his stand, “…the NFL had experienced something new: an athlete engaging in a prolonged social protest movement.” (Hunter) The public’s criticism towards his actions led to “…accusations that Kaepernick is unpatriotic and un-American.” Donald Trump stepped in once or twice saying, on twitter, that “I think it’s a terrible thing, and you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him, let him try, it’s not going to happen.” (CITE) Many people’s concerns stemmed from their thought that his stand was solely for a “hashtag campaign” and that he was an ill-informed athlete just trying to gain social media attention. Unintentionally, his stand created a hashtag “#TakeaKnee” throughout social media, to spread awareness- both positive and negative awareness- to Kaepernick and his kneeling. For the NFL itself, they had to restate their idea that the National Football League is a patriotic symbol in America and that one player taking a stand doesn’t change their mission in patriotism.

Although he received a lot of backlash, he had supporters such as military veterans that agreed with his statements, and football players (NFL, high school, college) who also kneeled during the anthem to show their viewpoint. His self-defense mechanism that he used to state his point was that of bolstering and his attempt to “…reinforce an existing fact,

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