Column: Kaepernick exemplifies free speech

Juan Nevarez, Columnist

Colin Kaepernick is an American football player for the San Francisco 49ers who recently was involved in a scandal because he refused to stand up during the national anthem due to his belief that the United States mistreats people of color. My belief is that someone with his influence and power should always speak their mind especially when there is a chance of making a difference.

Kaepernick’s sincerity is astounding, but there are similarities between his message and that of Muhammad Ali, who had stated in a 1967 interview that “no Viet Cong ever called me a n—–,” in protest of the Vietnam war. Muhammad Ali was labeled a hero for this statement and was praised eventually, but there was a backlash of derogatory language towards him, just as there is now towards Kaepernick.

There is a level of American hypocrisy with speaking your mind in defense of oppressed minorities, and it usually comes from the privileged and unaware who lack empathy to the issues that trouble minorities.

The hypocrisy exists in politics, as well; for instance, Donald Trump had stated in a Politico article published on Jul. 17th, 2015 that “I like people who weren’t captured,” clearly insulting John McCain’s history as a prisoner of war. Trump also claimed that McCain was not a war hero because he was captured for five years in a high-security prison known as the “Hanoi Hilton,” ignoring his documented torture.

Where is the outrage for the true disrespect of our American heroes? Where is the parade of white Americans raining down derogatory terms for insulting our military? Where were the people telling Trump to leave this country if he does not respect our military? Kapernick never disrespected our military, and he also never claimed to be personally oppressed, simply that his people were oppressed.

Kaepernick simply stated that he refused to stand for the national anthem because of America’s treatment of minorities. The only problem, in my mind, that Kapernick has caused is his choice to wear a Fidel Castro shirt and a Malcolm X hat after his commentary. Not the best time for bringing out symbolism for the issue you are trying to convey, but still permissible under freedom of speech, just as he expressed by not standing up during the national anthem.

The argument that this is disrespect to our military or disrespect to our country is false. The men and women in our military die to protect that freedom, and not being allowed to express concern for the oppression of the minorities in this country is stepping all over those freedoms that they died for.

This news outbreak over activism is outrageous. There are bigger matters to attend to around the world and this is the last thing the people of America should be outraged about, especially when it falls under freedom of speech. My question to those outraged at the matter is what should be done about not standing up for the national anthem? Should individuals be forced to stand up and show their patriotism for this country? Should they be fined for not displaying patriotism?

Juan Nevarez is a senior psychology major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].