Six years ago, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose not to stand for the national anthem, in to bring awareness to police violence against Black and Brown citizens. Now, San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler is making a similar gesture, sparked by exasperation over the nation’s collective failure to protect children in school from being massacred by a weapon of war purchased legally by an 18-year-old.
Instead of kneeling or sitting while the song plays, Kapler will remain away from the field. He said he will proceed with his peaceful protest indefinitely.
“Until I feel better about the direction of our country,” Kapler said, via Evan Webeck of the Bay Area News Group. “I don’t expect it to move the needle, necessarily. It’s just something I feel strongly enough about to take that step.”
Kapler said he wished he had done more on Tuesday, when the Giants played the Mets after the killing of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. The game was preceded by a moment of silence for the victims, followed by the playing of the anthem by Metallica.
“I knew that I was not in my best space mentally, and I knew that it was in connection with some of the hypocrisy of standing for the national anthem and how it coincided with the moment of silence and how those two things didn’t sync up well for me,” Kapler said.
Kapler explained the situation in his personal blog on Friday.
“Every time I place my hand over my heart and remove my hat, I’m participating in a self congratulatory glorification of the ONLY country where these mass shootings take place,” Kapler wrote. “My brain said drop to a knee; my body didn’t listen. I wanted to walk back inside; instead I froze. I felt like a coward. I didn’t want to call attention to myself. I didn’t want to take away from the victims or their families. There was a baseball game, a rock band, the lights, the pageantry. I knew that thousands of people were using this game to escape the horrors of the world for just a little bit. I knew that thousands more wouldn’t understand the gesture and would take it as an offense to the military, to veterans, to themselves.
“But I am not okay with the state of this country. I wish I hadn’t let my discomfort compromise my integrity. I wish that I could have demonstrated what I learned from my dad, that when you’re dissatisfied with your country, you let it be known through protest. The home of the brave should encourage this.”
Indeed it should. America isn’t great simply because we’re all expected to believe it and to say it — and to shun anyone who dares to disagree or to join the herd in a collective display of mandatory patriotism. America has to earn its greatness. Currently, in Kapler’s estimation, it isn’t.
His gesture comes at a time when Kaepernick finally, after five years of being ignored due to owners who simply lack the moral and financial courage to do the right thing (i.e., NFL owners are cowards), has gotten a workout with the Raiders. If others are committed to doing the right thing, of standing firm in the face of those who will huff and puff, Kaepernick will get more opportunities after more than a half-decade of getting none.
Like Kapler, Kaepernick participated in a peaceful protest. Kaepernick acted within the applicable NFL rules. He did nothing wrong.
With so much mayhem and carnage flowing from an unreasonable obsession, and wholly unrealistic interpretation, of the Second Amendment, it would be nice if those who live in the greatest nation on earth had a full commitment to the plain language of the First Amendment. And it would be great if some of the richest and most powerful people in the country set the right example for the rest of us.