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.


Trump May Be Racist, But Most Conservatives Are Not

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Well, Donald Trump is at it again! Last week, Trump criticized U.S. District Judge Gonazalo Curiel, claiming that the judge was exhibiting bias while presiding over the “Trump University” litigation. The resulting backlash has led many to wonder if Trump is, yet again, resorting to the brash behavior that has become the theme of his presidential campaign. 

According to The Wall Street Journal, Judge Curial is the son of Mexican immigrants, which Trump claims presents a conflict of interest due to his pledge to build a wall along the U.S. border. There is no substantive evidence that Judge Curiel has been motivated by bias, and it appears that the litigation will continue as scheduled. 

Now, I usually refuse to play the race game, and I am strongly against the politically-correct rhetoric that attempts to classify any controversial conversation as “discriminatory”. I will say that Donald Trump’s comments were irrational, and I personally disagree with his choice of words. However, I am not going to try to make this into another “TRUMP IS RACIST” piece.  

You can decide for yourself whether or not Trump is a racist. What I care about is the effect that Trump’s actions are having on the conservative movement. By consistently trying to exploit and manipulate the frustrations of the First Amendment supporters, he is providing the left with ammunition that can, and will, be used to slander, criticize, and demerit conservatives of all backgrounds. 

It’s important to understand that Trump is an exception to the rule. A man like Donald Trump will hurl insults and accusations at ANYONE who disagrees with him. When his ego is threatened, he has a tendency to respond in the most offensive ways imaginable. While there is a stark difference between an egomaniac and a racist, it is important to realize that perception is everything. 

In the eyes of the progressives, Republicans and conservatives are already made out to be racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Christian, white males. I may have missed a few, but you get the idea. Donald Trump’s behavior does nothing to improve this image, on the contrary, it feeds into it. Hillary Clinton has, to no surprise, already capitalized on his comments, referring to them as “dangerous” and “bigoted”. Unfortunately, considering the facts, it becomes increasingly hard to debate her assessment. 

As I’ve discussed in previous posts, MOST conservatives are willing to be tolerant of others, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, etc. However, we believe that tolerance cannot be one-sided, nor does it mean that we need to accept or support things that we disagree with. I will be tolerant and respect you, as long as you don’t try to FORCE me to support your views.

Despite accusations from the social justice warriors, it is possible to be anti-political correctness, pro-free speech, and pro-tolerance. There are many rational individuals who oppose the politically-correct agenda, not because they want to intentionally hurt others, but because they desire the freedom to express their views without experiencing vicious backlash from progressive hypocrisy. Most of us just want the freedom to live our lives and to be left alone.

Donald Trump does not represent a true conservative attitude towards free speech, in fact, he represents the antithesis. Although he has gathered many followers in his crusade against political correctness, we have to be honest about what his main goal is: to crush any form of speech that bruises his ego. By exploiting the well-understood frustrations of the free-speech advocates, he is able to utilize his signature bully tactics to discredit those who oppose him.

My plea for the American public is this: don’t let Donald Trump define your opinion of all conservatives. We do not use speech to intentionally hurt others. We use free speech to stand up for our beliefs and values, and we refuse to bow down to political bullies. Instead of falling victim to schemes designed to discredit us, we need to stand together and show that we do not condone speech that is derogatory and divisive.  

It’s NOT About Beyoncé. It’s About the Double-Standard.

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While many Americans were enjoying a traditional American past time, there was, inevitably perhaps, a group of individuals who felt the need to be offended by something they don’t agree with. That’s right, I’m talking about Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance. 

Contradictory to the stereotypical view that conservatives are greedy, rich and racist, I was not at all offended by the performance. Although I am not a big fan of her music,  I applaud Beyoncé for excercising her right to free speech. Free speech and music go hand-in-hand and, oftentimes, the most controversial issues provide the best substance for good music. 

Now, before I get my conservative friends all riled up, I will be clear that I DO NOT support the message that was being conveyed during Beyoncé’s performance. Personally, I think that the Black Lives Matter movement is severely flawed, but that is a topic for another post. However, I strongly believe that free speech is a cornerstone of American society and it is essential that we apply it without a double-standard. 

So, before we get all up in arms about Beyoncé’s performance let’s make one thing very clear: it’s NOT about Beyoncé’s message. What matters here is the double-standard that exists between both sides of the political correctness debate. We live in a society where freedom of speech is only tolerated if it coincides with a specific agenda. Unfortunately, such attitudes exist on both sides of the aisle. 

I’ll be the first to admit that conservatives who are distressed over Beyoncé’s performance are a prime example of such a double-standard. Those who lambast political correctness are hypocritical if they choose to make an issue out of Beyoncé’s performance. True liberty-loving conservatives, whether they were offended by the performance or not, would let the issue die. In other words, if you consistently denounce political correctness, it is counter-productive to demonize Beyoncé’s performance.

The discussion over the double-standard does not end with hypocritical conservatives. Consider an alternative scenario. Imagine if, instead of Beyoncé’s performance, there was a performance that involved the display of a Confederate flag. Oh just imagine how the progressives would rally in protest. If such a tragedy were to occur, in the eyes of progressives, the Super Bowl would be nothing more than a competition that promotes a racist agenda. However, since Beyoncé’s performance promotes the progressive agenda, all is well in utopia. 

Unfortunately, we live in a society where disdain for political correctness automatically classifies one as a racist, homophobe or xenophobe. Individuals choose not to speak their minds in fear that they will be ostracized by society. Saying that you disagree with Black Lives Matter does not make you a racist. Campaigning against Hillary Clinton does not make you a sexist. If you believe in traditional marriage, it doesn’t make you homophobic. Anyone who believes such nonsense is not a true supporter of free speech. 

At the end of the day, I neither condone nor condemn Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance. Why? Because I simply do not care. Beyoncé has the right to promote any message in which she believes. Just as I have the right to promote any message in which I believe. The beauty of free speech is this: no one is forced to agree with it. 

Both sides of the political spectrum must realize that double-standards do not promote free speech. Accusing individuals of traits that they do not possess is not only insulting, but it is also divisive. Instead of being offended by everything little thing we disagree with, why not celebrate the fact that we live in a country where we are free to speak in favor for what we believe.