The discussion about Colin Kaepernick’s decision to not stand for the national anthem has now reached the highest office in the land.
President Barack Obama said during the G20 Summit in China that he supports the 49ers quarterback’s right to free speech.
“He’s exercising his constitutional right to make a statement,” Obama said.
Obama said he thinks Kaepernick will “refine how he’s thinking about it,” and “maybe some critics will see he has a point around justice and equality. Sometimes it’s messy. But that’s how democracy works.”
The President acknowledged that the flag has a symbolic importance to those in the military, and that it may be a “tough thing for them to get past to what his concerns are.”
But he also said Kaepernick “cares about some real legitimate issues that need to be talked about. He’s generated some more conversation around topics that need to be talked about.”
He also hailed Kaepernick for his “active citizenry,” saying he’d “rather have young people who are engaged in the argument than people who are just sitting on the sidelines and not paying attention at all.”
Of course, the President’s involvement will do nothing to slow what has become a hot political issue, with sides drawing sharp lines. But Kaepernick himself has shown a willingness to move, as he went from sitting to kneeling after last week’s conversation with former Green Beret Nate Boyer.