For years I sat through the Canadian national anthem. I did so as a protest of Canada’s dismal record of voting against Israel at the United Nations. My go to argument at the time was “when Canada starts supporting Israel at the UN level, I’ll start standing for the national anthem.”
I took a lot of hits, during a political campaign in the early part of this century, an online blogger made a huge deal about my protest, calling me unpatriotic and unelectable. The anonymous blogger had been logging my public displays of protest and posted said log online during the campaign period. He particularly pointed to me not standing for the anthem during a ceremony where I had a prestigious seat next to both the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Quebec.
What the blogger did not know is that after I failed to stand for the anthem, the Prime Minister (Jean Chrétien) asked me why I didn’t stand, and I had the opportunity to explain my protest to him. After my impromptu explanation to the highest authority in the land, I considered my protest over and started standing for the anthem. You see, I felt that once the Government heard my grievances, continuing the protest would be overkill.
This brings me to the outrage over Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem. While I fully support their right to protest in the way they do, I disagree with the premise, that police target and kill Black citizens more often than any other citizen, facts and real statistical data tell a different story.
I don’t for a minute believe that Kaepernick or any other NFL player are disrespecting soldiers or the country. I think that they are exercising the time-honoured tradition of peaceful civil disobedience (although they are not breaking laws). I much prefer this kind of protest than those of Black Lives Matters or Antifa, who resort to racism, generalizations and violence to promote their cause. Although there is a time and place for violent protests, the manufactured dissent and division in the United States does not qualify.
I have been critical of Nike for using Kaepernick in an ad campaign solely on the basis that the slogan they chose, that Kaepernick sacrificed everything. The slogan is insulting to people who did sacrifice everything for the benefit of society. A millionaire losing his job over a protest and then signing what must be a multi-million-dollar deal with a billion-dollar company doesn’t feel much like a sacrifice to me.
But then again, I’m just an old guy who believes that sacrifice requires giving something important up for the betterment of society. In my mind, soldiers, police officers and other law enforcement agents who put their lives on the line day in and day out, so I can live in freedom and security are people who sacrifice everything. Soldiers and law enforcement agents who die in the line of duty have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Spoiled rich celebrities don’t fall into that category. So while I support Kaepernick’s right to protest, I condemn Nike for minimizing the actual sacrifice put forth by our brave soldiers and law enforcement agents and for glorifying a spoiled millionaire.