If you have been paying any attention at all the last few days, you know that Colin Kaepernick, who is still quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers as of this writing (there is talk he may be cut), is refusing to stand for the national anthem at NFL games. The reason is the racial oppression he says is a serious problem in the United States.
Kapernick says sitting for the national anthem is his way of protesting unequal treatment of minorities and that he will continue to object in this and other ways until there is “significant change.” Kaepernick has gotten quite a bit of grief for his decision. But I think he’s spot-on about at least one thing. Oppression is indeed a problem in this country. Just ask:
The veterans who have had their health issues neglected, ignored, or worse while waiting for assistance from a government that has promised to care for them but seems increasingly unable to do so.
The elderly patients trapped in a health-care system that too often treats them not like human beings but names on a bureaucrat’s report, to the point of pushing assisted suicide on them in lieu of treatment for their ills.
The students being held captive by a bloated educational Ponzi scheme that jacks up the cost of higher education, making it extremely difficult to avoid piling up thousands of dollars in debt for a degree that may not be worth much more than the paper it’s printed on.
The small-business owners and entrepreneurs who have the deck stacked against them before they even get started because of the suffocating weight of government regulation and their inability to afford all the lawyers and bureaucrats that are required to get anywhere in our crony capitalist system.
The average American who doesn’t want to look to government to get through his daily life but is hard-pressed to avoid it in a nanny state that seems intent on fostering dependence.
The nearly 1 million embryos hanging in frozen limbo as they wait for someone to decide their lives are worth living.
The 60 million children who have been aborted in the United States since Roe v. Wade.
Our Country Needs Us to Stand Up
Yes, there is oppression in the United States, plenty to go around. Like many Americans, I have in recent years found my patriotism and love of country wavering as I have looked around only to wonder what has become of the America I learned about in my school books—the one founded on a belief in the God-given rights of individual citizens to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and the one that was once committed to constitutional integrity and the separation of powers.
But far from making me want to disrespect my flag, it is the sense that my country is faltering that makes me want to honor my flag, and the song that celebrates it, more than ever. In this fallen, messed-up world, populated by what Mark Twain called “the damned human race,” no human institution is ever going to live up to its ideal.
But that doesn’t mean we should stop striving for the ideal. Our flag and our national anthem are both symbols that represent the United States not as it is, or as it will ever perfectly be, but as it was conceived. They give us not reality, but aspiration. In respecting them, we respect and lift up our most deeply held principles.
Certainly there may come a point at which an institution—or country—goes so far astray that there seems to be no hope of getting it back. I don’t think we are there yet. So I will continue to stand—and passionately sing—when my national anthem is played. I will do so because I still believe in all that flag represents, and I still have hope, however misguided, that it might someday be reclaimed.