Lowell Cohn: 49ers' Colin Kaepernick ignores the contradiction of his outrage
SANTA CLARA — There Colin Kaepernick was Sunday afternoon in the 49ers locker room, a backup quarterback discussing racial injustice in America. Being the focal point of the locker room and of the team.
Funny how that works. He sits on his duff during the national anthem and he becomes national news.
Not the purpose of this column to debate the morality of Kaepernick not standing for the “Star-Spangled Banner.” He said it was an act of conscience and let’s accept his explanation, at least for the first few paragraphs of this column.
He told the media the meaning of his stand — I mean his sit. By the way, more media than usual showed up at 49ers headquarters — a media zoo — and they weren’t there to discuss football.
“Ultimately, it’s to bring awareness and make people realize what’s really going on in this country,” Kaepernick lectured. “There are a lot of things that are going on that’s unjust. People who aren’t being held accountable. And that’s something that needs to change. This country stands for freedom, liberty, justice for all, and it’s not happening for all right now.”
A few days earlier he had said, “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.”
Kaepernick defended the military but expressed dislike for police: “Police brutality,” he spat out. “Cops are getting paid leave for killing people.”
He also said, “You can become a cop in six months and don’t have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist. Someone that’s holding a curling iron has more education and more training than people who have a gun.”
I wonder how the average policeman feels about that judgment.
Kaepernick certainly sounded sincere. There is something admirable about men and women who perform acts of conscience and accept the consequences.
Everyone is concerned about the treatment of minorities, and it’s refreshing when a famous athlete shows awareness and compassion, and makes a protest.
But my creed as a journalist always has been this: Don’t see what you’re supposed to see. See what you really see.
What Kaepernick wants me to see is a man acting from conviction. But I see other things competing with Kaepernick’s conscience, things running neck and neck with his convictions.
Kaepernick has a gripe with the United States of America, says it oppresses people of color — certainly there’s evidence. He is disgusted with our country, feels it’s morally corrupt.
OK, fair enough. But Kaepernick has benefited from our miserable, rotten society — the one he says fails so many people. Who has benefited more than Kaepernick?
He is a biracial young man who was adopted by white parents and grew up middle class in Turlock. He has been famous a long time. He is earning about $12 million this season and his skills hardly warrant that. He lives a privileged life.
It’s hypocritical to dump on a society that made you a prince, especially when you happily accepted that. It’s strange to fight for the downtrodden while you live like that prince. Kaepernick has not thought out the obvious contradictions in his position.
The mark of a young man not fully formed.