The Kaepernick effect further divides our country
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Come November, either Donald TrumpDonald TrumpAt center of Qatar crisis, a billion ransom Chaffetz: Threats against lawmakers should be taken seriously Warren cautions Dems against infighting MORE or Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump: 'Why no action' from Obama on Russian meddling? Trump notes 'election meddling by Russia' in tweet criticizing Obama Former Obama advisor calls Fox ‘state sanctioned media’ MORE may have to deal with a national problem more serious than ISIS, Russia, health care, taxes, or sexual assault in the military. They may have another Civil War on their hands.

In a recently published op-ed article in the Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday, September 4, 2016, I suggested that San Francisco 49er quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, was wrong to sit on the sidelines in protest during the playing of the National Anthem.

It’s a small thing that could be accepted accordingly or even overlooked, but the broadcast media tends to inherently amplify this action giving it a status equal to the game itself. Which I am sure is the intention.

In my view, however, this is disrespectful to the country that has given him the opportunity to become a successful sports hero and role model to millions of kids. Not to mention just plain disrespectful to America and other Americans, some who have given their lives for the country. And disruptive to those who just want to watch a football game.

Kaepernick by default has a greater responsibility that he needs to think through and understand. Making everyone uncomfortable during a party never goes over well.   

Just as the San Francisco 49er uniform and logo are symbolic of the imagery and history of a great NFL team, so are the American flag, the National Anthem, the Statue of Liberty, and the Liberty Bell.

They're all symbolic of the culture and great country we all also share, and they should not be disrespected or defaced in a public protest, especially, by a fellow American, and especially by a celebrity with a powerful voice and image such as Kaepernick.

No more than the very uniform and 49er logo Kaepernick wears should be disrespected. People buy his likeness and uniform. Kids adorn themselves with it.   

It just seems wrong. There are other ways to aim a protest that actually accomplish something toward solving the problem, not intensifying it. How has America and America’s National Anthem hurt Kaepernick? He should stand in respect like everyone else, even if it’s dumb and he doesn’t want to.

He could give his year’s salary to Black Lives Matter if he really wants to do something positive and make headlines.   

I get it that Kaepernick’s celebrity and a stadium audience of 80,000 unsuspecting fans and a worldwide television audience of millions is the perfect venue to pull this stunt and introduce himself and his cause to the world.

However, is he thinking about the folks watching that just want to enjoy the football game they paid for? What a distraction! A downer. 

There are plenty of television commercials and stadium commercial distractions enough to break the continuity of the game without having to burden the fans with another distraction, albeit an amusing and controversial aside to the fanfare.

His bringing attention to the fact that some African-Americans are mistreated is well intended and well received, but not necessary to someone who just wants to enjoy a football game on their day off or over a cold beer at home. The game is a break from the reality of life from which we are all seeking a few hours reprieve.

After the game, or before the game, there are plenty of 24 hour news channels constantly showing the injustices perpetrated on our fellow citizens, by our other fellow citizens, many in uniform (police). And now, they are showing Colin Kaepernick, in his uniform, pressing his cause as well.   

Is this a demonstration of solidarity that we all appreciate or is it overkill?           

Notwithstanding his right to free speech and public protest demonstration, and a justified cause, his action could be an incendiary catalyst toward something that is already out of control in America.

Kaepernick now has other teammates and other NFL football players doing the same thing. Protesting and demonstrating on America’s leisure time, and on the time and dollar of his team, the NFL generally, and the broadcast media.

His mass media message is being seen and received by millions. Millions of the impressionable individuals who have nothing to lose by hitting the streets and protesting themselves. He may be unwittingly giving license to further intensified protests to an already intensified national situation and the accompanying violence that is inevitable.

If we are not careful with this racial imbalance in America we could be heading for another Civil War, the likes of which we have never seen. It won’t be north against south, it will be black against white.

Just in the past year we have seen, mainly through the eyes of the broadcast media, so many instances where a white police officer has shot and killed an African American man, a youth, for no apparent good reason.

The situation seems that it could have been handled better by the policeman. And although this scenario happens every day in America, and it’s not always white against black, the statistics bear out what the media is reporting and broadcasting.

The images are compelling. The images and background stories are a call to action.

Do the police need better training? Are they afraid for their lives? Are they racist? Are their deadly actions sometimes justified? Is the general public aware of the extreme  situation in some of these more aggressive areas of the country, mainly the inner cities and towns?   

There are two sides to every story, and there seems to be two stories to every side.

If we, as a country, do not get a handle on this thing, it will be the biggest issue our next presidents will be dealing with for many years to come. And it will be massive, deadly, lawless and sorrowful.

Colin Kaepernick and his fellow NFL brothers may be calling attention to the problem of racial injustice in America, but we are already aware of the problem. Abraham Lincoln called attention to it, Dr. Martin Luther King called attention to it, Tommie Smith and John Carlos called attention to it at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. The media calls attention to it every day 24 hrs. a day.

What we need is for the problem to be resolved. None of them, even Colin Kaepernick, can seem to get the job done.

Politicians talk about it and tell us what needs to be done. The broadcast news and media pundits discuss it in their party dresses and gleaming studios and tell us what “needs to be done.” The elite print journalists dissect the problem, analyze it, beat it to death and tell us what they think. Nobody gets their hands dirty, they all go out to lunch and fool each other that they are doing the good work for America.

Meanwhile, the statistics rise and something is brewing that we may all be getting our hands dirty with and will be talking about for centuries.

I think we’ve reached the breaking point between active protests and incendiary actions, and media coverage. The glass is no longer half full or half empty. It’s full to the brim and overflowing.

John Kushma is a communication consultant and lives in Logan, Utah.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.