What do I think about second string 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the US national anthem? First… I don’t… think about him, that is. For one thing, I’m a baseball guy – a better sport for dozens of reasons. For another, we got bigger issues.
But heck. If forced to express an opinion, I’ll defer to my FB friend, Jim Wright, who writes to veterans, as a veteran, a very moving missive suggesting that: Real respect can not be compelled, bought, inherited. Read that instead of my screeds.
Have I an opinion, though? No. I have five at least. First, that we only move forward by applying moral pressure on our faults as a nation, as my father did, when he marched with ML King and as the Black Lives Matter activists are doing now, in the streets.
Second: that the pressure-appliers don’t always have to be personally admirable! Many are! Others are – as individuals – sanctimonious bullies, whose preening may be much more about grandstanding than true, moral leadership. And to a large degree that does not matter! What counts is the direction in which we are moving. And that we move with purposeful determination. And it is (mostly) irrelevant whether Colin Kaepernick is a showboating prima donna-ingrate who ignores how very far we’ve come. (And he may be none of those things! I truly do not know.)
No, what matters is that America – and the Great Experiment that America leads – have always benefited from critics and criticism. No matter how good we are, we can get even better. Always. Lots better.
Hence, our reflex should be to give benefit of the doubt to critics. And not to those who reflexively shout for them to shut up.