Colin Kaepernick Isn’t a Villain…But He Sure Isn’t A Hero Either.

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Sports and politics certainly seem to have a strange way of intermingling. This is quite ironic to me because I’ve always viewed sports as an opportunity for people to put aside their differences and engage in a friendly form of competition. Unfortunately, professional athletes face an increased amount of scrutiny from the public, much of which has resulted from political statements and controversial actions.

Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly instances in which professional athletes should be held to a higher standard than the rest of the public. These individuals are expected to be good role models to the kids who admire them, and they have the responsibility to conduct themselves with integrity and respect when in public. However, while there are certain actions that should be scrutinized, we have to realize that professional athletes are people and they have the right to voice their opinions.

With that said, there is a specific topic that has been trending excessively on Facebook for the past few days: Colin Kaepernick. For those who may not know, Colin Kaepernick is a quarterback for the San Francisco 49rs, and he has been facing intense criticism for refusing to stand during the national anthem at a preseason game on Friday evening. This is not the first time that a professional athlete has refused to stand for the national anthem, and I am certain that it will not be the last.

When questioned about his decision to remain seated, Kaepernick cited the oppression of black people as the primary motivating factor. Kaepernick went on record saying: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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.

Personally, I think that Kaepernick is a complete tool, and I believe that his refusal to stand reflected a desire for attention rather than a genuine desire to do good. I mean, what do you expect from someone who wears a shirt with Fidel Castro on it? However, my opinion doesn’t matter in the slightest. Kaepernick has the right to have an extremely poor outlook on the American flag, and I support that right even if I strongly disagree with his attempts to justify it. Therefore, there is no need for me to further comment on the driving force behind his decision.

What bothers me most about this situation is how polarizing it has become. On social media, Kaepernick is either being condemned as a villain or hailed as a hero. In reality, he is neither of these. He is not a “godless commie”, and he certainly isn’t a valiant civil rights leader. He is a man who chose to exercise his 1st Amendment rights and, whether you agree with it or not, it is time to get over it.

I completely understand if you disagree with Kaepernick’s actions. He disrespected those who have fought and died to protect his rights. However, his apparent sense of self-entitlement doesn’t make him a villain, it just makes him ungrateful. The truth is, Kaepernick has harmed no one. The only thing he has damaged is his own public image. Although I personally disagree with his assessment, I recognize that he has the right to make whatever statement he wants, as long as he is willing to accept the potential consequences.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: The 1st Amendment was not written to protect the type of speech that everyone agrees with. On the contrary, it was written to protect the type of speech that some may find to be controversial or offensive. Yes, there are certain instances where speech must be scrutinized, but this is not one of them. Kaepernick’s actions may have been offensive, but they are protected in the exact same way that Donald Trump’s controversial remarks are protected.

If you support Kaepernick’s actions, that’s fine. You have the right to your beliefs, and there is no point in arguing about it. However, don’t get it twisted. Colin Kaepernick is not a civil rights hero. He is not Rosa Parks, nor is he MLK. He is not a selfless hero, but instead, a self-entitled individual who has experienced all of the “benefits” of “white privilege”. In fact, with a $25 million net worth, it appears that he is more privileged than I will ever be. If he wants to do some real good, maybe he will choose to dedicate his time and treasure towards enacting real change in the community.

Instead of focusing on real issues, we have directed our attention towards the actions of a man who is enjoying a few short moments in the spotlight. By preoccupying ourselves with his little publicity stunt, we are giving him exactly what he wants: attention. Like it or not, he is exercising his right to free speech. So let’s all just leave it at that and get back to the issues that really matter.

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Your Protest Means Nothing If You Act Like A Delinquent

At a very young age, I learned that throwing a fit would not yield the results that I desired. Considering that most parents work hard to impress a similar mentality upon their children, it is actually quite embarrassing that I even need to be talking about the events that occurred in Minneapolis on Friday evening.

As you may already know, Donald Trump made a brief stop in Minnesota on Friday evening to attend a fundraising event in Minneapolis. These events are typical of both parties and, like it or not, they are a common occurrence during an election cycle. Not surprisingly, Trump’s visit sparked an unjustified outrage amongst several individuals who felt it was their duty to publicly advertise their disdain with Trump’s politics.

Now, I am no fan of Donald Trump, and this is not an endorsement of his politics. I will not fault anyone who stands in opposition to him, nor will I insinuate that these individuals should refrain from engaging in a civil protest. As long as they remain civil, they have the right to voice their opinions. However, the events that occurred at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Friday evening crossed the line that distinguishes a civil protest from acts of delinquency.

Instead of protesting in a civilized manner, some of the protesters resorted to various forms of harassment, including pushing and spitting on Trump supporters. These tactics were meant to publicly intimidate those who have chosen to support Donald Trump, and they illustrate the childish attitudes that many have embraced this election season. Regardless of who you support, these tactics are despicable, and there is no room for them in a civil society.

We have become a society that is full of people who attempt to use their twisted view of righteousness to justify their obscene actions. These individuals preach tolerance, but show an inability to practice it when it conflicts with their agenda. They quickly become offended every time that someone disagrees with them, and they resort to childish acts to gain attention.

Here’s the thing. If you act like a child, you are going to be treated like one. Being an adult means accepting the fact that there will always be people who disagree with you. A failure to accept this is an indication that you are failing to accept reality. If you choose to engage in atrocious behavior, you are destroying your credibility and you deserve respect from no one.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone has the right to support the candidate that they think best represents their values. It’s fine to disagree with someone else’s choice of candidate, but you can still be civil with one another. If you think they are wrong, fine. If you think they are ignorant, fine. However, you will get absolutely no where by publicly intimidating or harassing those who disagree with you. This idea should transcend party lines and become a standard that applies to everyone.

Again, regardless of whom you choose to support for President, there is no excuse for acting in an uncivilized fashion. Don’t fool yourself into believing that you are a hero, because you are not one. In fact, you are a coward, and any self-respecting individuals can see right through your charade. If, on the other hand, you are able to remain civil, go ahead and stand up for what you think is right. I may disagree with you, but I will still respect your right to voice your opinion. Just remember, your protest means absolutely nothing if you choose to act like a delinquent.

When There’s a Moment of Silence, Please Shut Up

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On the final night of the Democratic National Convention, there was a brief moment that was meant to honor police officers who have been killed in the line of duty. Dallas County’s Sheriff Lupe Valdez was chosen to deliver the address, and she spoke about the importance of law enforcement and the selfless sacrifice that many have made.

You can watch her speech in its entirety, but it’s safe to say that there was nothing controversial about it. Sheriff Valdez spoke with pride about being a police officer, and put an emphasis on what it means to serve our communities. She also addressed the recent tragedies that have occurred, and the intense divisions that have emerged as a result.

Partisan politics aside, I thought that Sheriff Valdez’s speech was well-spoken. She touched on concepts that most rational individuals can agree upon. She didn’t seek to assign blame, but instead sought to bring about an environment in which we “start listening to each other”. She focused on the idea that it takes efforts, on both ends, to change the narrative and to improve relationships within a community.

Towards the end of her speech, Sheriff Valdez called for a moment of silence to honor officers that have been killed in the line of duty, as well as, their families.

That’s when the rabble-rousers seized the opportunity.

It should come as no surprise that, in the midst of a moment that was intended to show respect to the fallen officers, shouts of “Black Lives Matter” began to break to silence. Instead of heeding the advice that was offered just minutes earlier by Sheriff Valdez, the individuals responsible chose to further contribute to the divisive narrative.

I am all for protests, as long as the actions of the protestors don’t infringe upon the rights of others. I may disagree with your cause, but I will still support your right to protest, as long you do so with dignity and respect. However, please realize that, if you choose to act like a jerk, you are going to be treated like one.

I was taught at a young age that interrupting a moment of silence is not a courageous act. In fact, it is extremely rude and it speaks volumes about your character. If you’re mad that the DNC dedicated a moment to honor fallen police officers who had nothing to do with the recent shootings, fine. Just realize that you can rip yourself away from your agenda, for just a few minutes, and still be a decent human being.

When you interrupt a moment of silence that was reserved for those who were killed in the line of duty, you deserve absolutely no respect. You are discrediting your movement, and are providing a perfect example of why many choose to distance themselves from it. If you want your movement to grow, change your attitude and alter your approach.

Acknowledge opinions that challenge your worldview, even it you don’t agree with them. Instead of dwelling on the differences, focus on the common ground and use it to build a foundation. Yes, black lives matter, but so does every other life. If you show disrespect towards the loss of innocent lives (regardless of their status), you are no better than those you claim to stand against.

So, the next time you are present for a moment of silence, please keep your mouth shut. Put aside your ego, and extend the same respect towards others than you would like extended towards you. There is a pretty clear distinction between fighting for justice, and being an inconsiderate jerk. Don’t treat others how you are treated. Treat others BETTER than you are treated.