I haven't written about the anthem protests because, well, they don't much matter to me. Prior to Colin Kaepernick sitting down, all I really knew about the guy was that he sucked at his job. But hey, if he wants to use his platform to protest police shooting unarmed black men, more power to him. I'm not sure what the exit strategy is—you're going to protest until racial inequities go away?—but that's his problem to hash out, not mine. Whether or not I agree with his chosen medium, he's just exercising his rights. Peaceful protest is as American an ideal as apple pie and cops shooting unarmed black men.
I find the backlash much more concerning than the protests. People shriek about disrespect to the flag, military and war dead, projecting hyperbolic nonsense upon the protesters' clearly explained, very narrow agenda. As soon as I see one person attempt to recast the motives of another, I reflexively ally with the other.
The backlashers make me uncomfortable for several reasons.
- They make me defend a simpleton who kisses his own bicep.
- They seem to think that acts of patriotism should be compulsory, as if that's not the pathetic opposite of patriotism.
- They are stunningly more shrill about this wholly invented controversy than they are about cops shooting very real unarmed men.