COMMENTARY: Colin Kaepernick is a scapegoat after National Anthem protest


Photo by Au Kirk, distributed under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license, via Wikimedia Commons

John Ferraro, Sports Editor

“To me, this is something that has to change, and when there’s significant change — and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way it’s supposed to — I’ll stand.” – Colin Kaepernick.

Colin Kaepernick may not have been a household name outside the National Football League before last Friday, but he became one overnight with one simple non-action.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback took a stand by sitting down for the National Anthem before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.

In post-game comments to, Kaepernick explained, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Kaepernick’s comments referred to police violence against blacks, specifically the multiple police shootings and other violent treatment of mostly unarmed blacks, an ongoing issue that has sparked riots in a number of cities across the country.

What followed was a brutal firestorm of comments on social media, national media and around the National Football League itself.

The incident sparked conversation and debate across the country with the majority of people against Kaepernick’s inaction during the anthem.

The list of arguments against Kaepernick is growing, but the validity of most, if not all, falls short both on basic First Amendment rights and ignoring the context of the protest itself.

One of the most popular arguments implies that Kaepernick was disrespecting veterans or military officials by not standing.

This argument takes Kaepernick’s message out of context and creates a false narrative of what the protest was actually about.

Kaepernick responded to these allegations in a follow-up news conference on Sunday.

“I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country,” Kaepernick continued. “They fight for freedom. They fight for the people. They fight for liberty and justice for all. And that’s not happening.”

Here is the full press conference uploaded to YouTube by KTVU News:

Another popular argument against Kaepernick’s inaction is more of a personal attack on his character, status, and background.

Fox’s Tucker Carlson spoke about Kaepernick playing the victim while making millions on Special Report with Bret Baier.

Sure, Kaepernick makes $19 million playing the most popular sport in the United States, but he wasn’t primarily speaking about himself.

“This stand wasn’t for me. This stand wasn’t because I feel like I am being put down in any kind of way,” Kaepernick continued. “This is because I’m seeing things happen to people who don’t have a voice, don’t have the platform to talk and have their voices heard, and effect change.”

Arguments against him and personal attacks aside, the debate stops with the First Amendment right of freedom of speech.

However, where the majority of people miss the point is that their anger is focused at the wrong individual. Colin Kaepernick has become a scapegoat.

Most Americans do agree that we have problems in this country, including race relations. In a NBC News/Walls Street Journal poll back in July of this year, 74 percent of Americans said that race relations are bad.

If that is true, doesn’t that validate what Kaepernick is saying? With bad race relations, there is usually some type of oppression on one side or the other.

So, why is all the attention on Kaepernick because he would not stand for a song? He is not a lawmaker. He is not a politician. He is an NFL quarterback in silent protest.

Is it because Kaepernick’s protest made many people feel uncomfortable? In order for controversial issues to be discussed, conversations may sometimes need to become uncomfortable.

No matter what the argument in defense of Kaepernick, most people will forever dislike him.

All I ask is that people have a bit of perspective and channel their anger to what and “who” really matters in this country. Don’t lose the message by blindly looking at the action.

Contact the writer: [email protected]