The vile backlash against Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers great quarterback, is one of the ugly manifestations of the racism that has been dredged up during Election 2016. This, of course, follows of the heels of the equally moronic uproar caused by Olympic gymnast Gaby Douglas for daring — the nerve!!!! — to not put her hand on her heart during the national anthem at the Rio Olympics. Poor Gaby had to apologize to appease the electronic mob that was threatening to destroy her.
If you haven’t been following this, last Friday night Kaepernick, who is half African-American, defended his position of not standing during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality. “You can become a cop in six months,” he said, as cited here by Sports Illustrated, “and you don’t have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist. That’s insane. I mean, someone that’s holding a curling iron has more education and more training than people that have a gun and are going out on the street to protect us.”
That triggered a wave of denunciations by conservative pundits and police groups, among others. “Maybe he should find a country that works better for him, let him try,” Donald Trump said predictably. Of course these same Yahoos were thrilled with the 49er QB when he quite rightly denounced Hillary Clinton a few days later, saying, “We have a presidential candidate who has deleted emails and done things illegally. That doesn’t make sense to me.”
Yesterday a retired cop named Chris Amos gained fame and general approval for writing a post on Facebook in which he denounced Kaepernick and lamented, “You see I am a retired police officer that had the misfortune of having to shoot and kill a 19-year-old African American male…You entertain for a living, I and almost 800,000 others across this country serve and protect.”
By the way, I’m not familiar with the circumstances under which Amos “had the misfortune” of killing a teenager, but I do know there is a lot of police violence in Norfolk, Virginia, where he lives and worked. Note to media: Do a Google search and provide some context to this story. It’s easy: Just Google the words “police violence” and see what comes up.
What made it easy for Amos to denounce the 49er QB is that, he wrote, he had once been shot himself and lost seven friend in the line of duty, and he milked that for all it was worth. “We will continue to protect and continue to serve and we will be standing at attention Colin,” as he cued the violin strings, “not just for the playing of our National Anthem, but far more importantly for the playing of Taps.”
You know what? Kaepernick didn’t come out in favor of police killings. All he did was point to the widely noted phenomenon of police violence against African-Americans (and others) so it’s totally dishonest for Amos to try to all but paint him as a cop hater. I’m sorry Amos got shot and lost friends, but that doesn’t give him the right to drum up a digital lynch mob against Kaepernick.
It may look easy for a guy like Kaerpernick to speak out about politics but it’s a difficult position. Just like in journalism, the safest route in sports is to play it safe. That’s how you get ahead and get your picture on a cereal box and rack up endorsement deals. By speaking out, Kaepernick cost himself a lot of money and will pay a price professionally as well. A number of NFL bigwigs denounced him with one self-righteous prick, anNFL head coach who wouldn’t give his name to Sports Illustrated, saying, “My fucking guys will stand for the anthem! And they want to!”
And even though the NFL is heavily African-American, football players — and athletes in general — don’t like it when their peers speak out. It puts pressure on everybody else to do so and most players would rather keep quiet. That’s why Muhammed Ali and LeBron James are such hugely important figures and why it’s so great to see periodic displays of solidarity from lesser known athletes. (Like the Los Angeles Rams players who showed solidarity with Ferguson protestors a few years ago.)
Speaking of racist, I can’t help but believe that a lot of white NFL fans love Tom Brady partly because of his skin color and his conservative political views. This guy endorses Trump, whose public views on race are appalling, and no one denounces him. Kaepernick calls out police violence and the mob wants to drive him out of football.