For 14 months or so, Donald Trump has trashed America. From his campaign slogan, which implies America isn’t great, to a speech the other day in Iowa—where, by the way. he once said, “How stupid are the people of Iowa?”—when he said the following to Hispanics and African-Americans:
What do you have to lose? It can’t get any worse. What do you have to lose?
There you have the Republican candidate telling people of color that America is a shithole and he and only he can make life less shitty for them.
Now, we’ve all grown use to Trump trashing his own country. You hardly hear a peep about it anymore from the blabbers on cable news. But, by God, the minute an African-American football player dares to not stand during the playing of the national anthem—as a way of sending his message that America’s treatment of people of color is not what it should be—conservatives soil their tighty-whities.
Colin Kaepernick, quarterback of the 49ers, explained his protest:
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. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.
You might think he’s wrong. You might think he should protest in another way. You might think his employer has a right to reprimand him. But you can’t hold the African-American quarterback to a different standard from one applied to the white GOP presidential nominee, whose candidacy is essentially a noisy and nasty protest against the entire country, government and all. Remember, Trump said during his “I alone can fix it” convention speech that,
I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens…
Isn’t that what Kaepernick is saying? That the system is rigged against citizens of color? Yet many of the same people who embrace Trump’s trashing of America are burning Kaepernick jerseys and expressing outrage at his refusal to stand during a song. And many people who are criticizing Kaepernick because he isn’t showing proper respect to our military men and women are showing up at Trump rallies and cheering a man who has disrespected John McCain and “captured” veterans; who has publicly mistreated a Gold Star family; and who has referred to our military as a “disaster.”
Both Donald Trump and Colin Kaepernick have every right to send their respective messages. One stands and shouts. The other sits in silence. And both do so in a country whose flag is supposed to wave over the land of the free. But as we have seen throughout our history, some folks are freer than others.