The entire conservative universe is rising up in outrage against NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Their heads are exploding at the idea of an American citizen exercising his First Amendment right to free speech.
In case you missed it, Kaepernick decided to remain seated during the playing of the National Anthem prior to a pre-season football game.
He didn’t openly disrespect military members. He didn’t take up arms against the government. He didn’t claim allegiance to ISIS. He wasn’t setting cars on fire.
He sat down during one song.
The right wing lost what passes for its mind, taking to Facebook, Twitter, Fox News and YouTube to vilify the man.
Kaepernick chose to engage in his peaceful statement to bring attention to the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement. He wanted the country to talk about the ongoing, well entrenched racism in this country.
Right wingers screamed that he was disrespecting the military. That he was unpatriotic. That he should shut up and stand up, in that order. He was called all kinds of names that can’t be repeated in front of children.
In the past two days, though, Twitter has experienced a viral hashtag that no doubt took the conservative world by surprise. #VeteransForKaepernick has thrown support behind the NFL quarterback by making the point that the military fights for everyone’s right to speak freely in this country. Here are some examples on Twitter today:
— Michele Norris (@michele_norris) August 31, 2016
— B. 👑 (@brittneeraebaby) August 31, 2016
— Charles Bassett (@CharlesBassett) August 31, 2016
Many of the veterans who took to Twitter made the same point. They did not put their lives in danger to protect a song, they insist. They put their lives in danger because they believe in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
They don’t want the conservative right pretending to speak for them.
Dear America stop speaking for me you don't care about us either we're just your mask for racism and prejudice #VeteransForKaepernick
— KillMonger fan acct (@MrRedMartian) August 30, 2016Loading...
24 years in inform so anyone that wants to can stand or sit for the National Anthem … called first amendment rights #veteransforkapernick
— Dr.Richard Ryder,PhD (@goofygarlicguy) August 31, 2016
Other veterans used the hashtag to express their support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which was a large part of Kaepernick’s motivation in protesting.
— Stanley Ipkiss (@Simple_____Jack) August 31, 2016
Still other veterans aimed their anger at conservative hypocrisy. They recognized that when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claims that the United States is a hellhole, his crowds scream in agreement. When one Black man suggests that we need to address the racism in the country, the same crowd wants to have his head on a platter.
— The People's Summit (@pplsummit) August 31, 2016
Some tweets were even more pointed in their attacks on the right. This one is my personal favorite.
— Col. Morris Davis (@ColMorrisDavis) August 31, 2016
I love this response so much.
I used to teach American history. We spent a lot of time helping the children to understand the Bill of Rights. We used to role play about the First Amendment. What should you do, we’d ask the kids, if someone stands up in public to say things that you hate and despise? Do they have the right to speak? We often used the KKK as an example. We’d ask our young students, “Do you think that the Klan has the right to march peacefully, saying that Black people are inferior?”
Eventually, as we kept returning to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the kids would come to realize that the only way that this country can honestly claim to be the “land of the free” is if all voices are equally valued and if each point of view is freely expressed.
#VeteransForKaepernick understands this. If only the right wing nut jobs out there could grasp it, too.