Clegg’s Corner – Right to protest vital in a democracy

by Chris Clegg

Colin Kaepernick has caused quite a stir.

The San Francisco 49’ers quarterback’s recent decision to sit during the American national anthem has drawn opinions from the armchair quarterback to the housewife to the president.

In short, Kaepernick is protesting unequal treatment of blacks by police.

I don’t like how Kaepernick chose to protest, but I do not deny his right to protest. I can’t fathom how not standing at attention for the flag and singing of the national anthem is not disrespectful, aside from the excuse of medical conditions.

The media has weighed in with all fours. Opinions vary like the weather.

What is this about and what does Kaepernick hope to accomplish? At the time of this writing, he has still not stated clearly what he wants.
Everyone wants equal treatment by police for all races, but just how does Kaepernick propose we imperfect humans accomplish his goal?

What we do know is that actions like Kaepernick’s are vitally important in a democracy, whether we like his view or not. Many times actions like his, or Muhammad Ali’s, or the salute by black athletes at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, are the catalyst for change. Without the drastic actions taken by the brave few who step forward, change will not come.

Isn’t it interesting that Ali’s ex-wife told Kaepernick to “get off his high horse”!

But let us focus on what will happen to Kaepernick. It is generally agreed there will be repercussions due to loss of potential endorsement deals. The lesson here? Speak your mind and step forward for a cause, and you suffer the penalty. Shame on you, growls corporate America, for upsetting the apple cart. How dare you criticize when things are going so well?

Kaepernick’s criticism of police is not without merit. As in any profession, there are a few bad apples in every bunch. There are good doctors and bad doctors, good policemen and bad policemen, good reporters and – for heaven’s sake! – even bad reporters! Not any of these groups should be so naïve as to not strive to improve and weed out the bad ones.

There is, however, something inherently wrong with punishing anyone who steps forward with an opinion. Even media can be intimidated by the corporate sector, they can be punished. There is no sense in the media crying about it. The corporate sector, of course, has the right to support anyone it chooses. After all, it is their money.

But if history has taught us anything, it might be to never jump to a conclusion. At first, Ali was compared by many to the village idiot. Today, we remember him as a hero.

Media and society must also remember that many times these protests are not successful because they have no merit. Only history will judge if what Kaepernick has done will recognize him as hero or goat.

The problem is Kaepernick’s cause appears to be worthy. However, when he chose to wear socks of pigs wearing a policeman’s hat, he lost any credibility with many. It’s too bad.

Remember, many times, a protest is judged by the public based on the credibility of the presenter. Kaepernick appeared to lose his credibility by wearing those disgusting socks. Would you want to be associated with a buddy who wears such apparel? Who is the real pig here?

Kaepernick must now face the music. Whether he will be able to dance to the same tune he plays today years from now, only history will tell.

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