To the Editor:The following is a letter to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick
You refuse to stand for the national anthem because, in your words, America “oppresses black people and people of color.” You have the right to do so because people better than you fought and died to give you that right. But there are a few things you should know as you continue your protest.
Black people and people of color have more opportunities and more freedoms in America today than in any other country in the world. In fact, they have more opportunities and more freedoms here today than in any other country in the history of the world. And to the extent that people of color have opportunities and freedoms in other parts of the world – principally, in the democracies of Western Europe – they also largely owe that to America, as the democracies of Western Europe have followed America’s leadership. If you want to learn about “oppression,” you should visit just about any other area of the world other than America or Western Europe – like the Middle East, or China, or Russia, or best of all, black Africa, where racism and ethnic violence are endemic.
You own life story provides an example of the opportunities afforded people of color in America and the egalitarianism that is the foundation of our country. After your mother gave you up for adoption, you were raised by white parents and pursued your dreams. You received a college education and became a professional athlete, earning tens of millions of dollars. All along your journey, you enjoyed the freedoms that literally hundreds of millions – even billions – of people of color are denied because, unlike you, they did not have the good fortune to be born in America. Like freedom of religion, freedom of association, freedom to pursue your own happiness, the right to vote in fair elections, and, yes, freedom of speech.
As you sit on the bench this year, collecting your $12 million salary and watching Blaine Gabbert – yes, Blaine Gabbert – start at quarterback for the 49ers, I hope you will take the time to reflect on what your protest truly means. It doesn’t mean what you think it does. It doesn’t mean that you’re a man of principle taking a stand. Rather, it simply means that you, like all of us who are lucky enough to be Americans, live in freedom – which in your case means that you have the freedom to sit, not stand, and to show the world how ungrateful, uninformed and hypocritical you are.
God Bless the United States of America.
Bill McSwainWest Chester