National Football League player Colin Kaepernick created a stir on Friday when he refused to stand for the national anthem at the start of a preseason game. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback cited the prevalence of racism and oppression in America as the primary reasons he sat during the playing of the song.
The Bay Area football star has been fading over the last few years and he’ll likely be doing a lot of sitting this season—for the national anthem or otherwise. But Kaepernick’s protest has initiated a national debate over patriotism and respect for the American flag.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812; it was officially adopted as the national anthem in 1931 and has been a staple at sports events for more than a century. The song is filled with martial and patriotic references, finishing with a stanza that makes an ode to America as the “land of the free, and the home of the brave.”
To the majority of Americans, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a moving tribute to what the country represents: freedom, duty, bravery, and commitment to the men and women serving in the armed forces. Clearly, Kaepernick—who makes millions of dollars playing the game he loves—has a different view of what the over two-century-old song represents.
“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 told the NFL media. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Lambasting “The Star-Spangled Banner” isn’t a new phenomenon. Liberal groups and commentators have tried to get the tune <a target="_blank" …read more
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