As you may have heard, San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick sat down during the national anthem at a preseason game Friday night to protest the treatment of minorities in America. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said afterward. “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.”
Today, in a story that has spread rapidly, The Intercept pointed out that a lyric in the third verse of the anthem actually celebrates the killing of slaves who were trying to earn their freedom by fighting for the British in the War of 1812. Not that Kaepernick needs this justification—it’s his right as a citizen to protest whatever he wants, and it takes courage to do so—but it literally shows that our national song has a part which cheers on the defeat of slave laborers who had the audacity to try to escape bondage.
Nevertheless, you can always count on some really terrible takes when an incident like this happens. In the list that follows, we’re not going to feature pure expressions of hate, but rather those that try to disguise that hatred with false equivalencies and other bad logic—and none of which even make the attempt to engage with his ideas. We could have included far more than ten, of course, but each one so perfectly represents a different line of attack that it seemed wiser to make them symbolic, and to stand in for the many. Consider this an idiot’s gallery, populated by semi-famous people who would rather curtail someone’s free speech—and spout a stupid opinion in the process—than address an obvious systemic issue in their own country. Commentary on each tweet will appear to the left of the photo.
1 of 10
Here we see a common tactic—the idea that soldiers who have fought and died or been injured for America mean that nobody in our country should ever protest anything, ever. Dissent = disrespecting the troops. That should be the neanderthal mantra.
2 of 10
Aside from being insanely racist, this is apparently making the point that because Colin Kaepernick didn't experience a terrible childhood, he has no right to care about anyone whose lives are difficult. I guess the lesson is that if you've ever felt empathy for another person experiencing something that you never experienced, don't tell Clay Travis.
3 of 10
Colin Kaepernick did not say "all white people are evil." He protested a system in which black people are unfairly oppressed. This kind of conflation is blatantly dishonest and gross.
4 of 10
How dare he protest! Let's protest! (Also, the idea of using capitalism to stifle free speech should make you nauseous.)
5 of 10
...and his protest had nothing to do with Marxism. Again, the most common shared trait of his critics is a failure to address what he actually said.
6 of 10
This guy is an asshole.
7 of 10
"I'm fine with speaking out, as long as the person speaking out doesn't do or say something I disagree with. That's free speech, to me."
8 of 10
Every time you have an opinion, you disrespect a dead soldier.
9 of 10
This is just a slightly more subtle (but still not very subtle) way of saying that Kaepernick is a piece of dirt for not falling in lockstep with the American myth.
10 of 10
This is supposed to show how much of a jerk Kaepernick is by contrast, even though the two situations are wildly different. Can someone like Gottlieb not fathom a world in which there is a point to BOTH acts? But that would involve acknowledging gray area, wouldn't it?