So please read Jim Wright's essay and think about why Colin Kaepernick has exercised his right of Free Speech.
Kaepernick is entitled to his speech, and Mr. Wright is entitled to his opinion, but those facts don't make them correct on the issue, nor in line with how most people feel about the issue itself. I think that the essay misses a key point. Yes, respect has to be earned, but that's not the issue here. When standing and showing respect for the flag during the national anthem, you are not showing respect to the piece of cloth flapping in the breeze, nor to the person singing the song, nor to the current state of the country itself, it's policies, laws, etc. You are showing respect to the ideals that the country strives to achieve, as represented by the very constitution he speaks of
. He got it in the first part, that the founding fathers were not perfect and knew that the nation they were creating was not perfect (they allowed for the institution of slavery, after all, despite it being clearly in opposition to the most basic concept of rights that they were using as the founding principle of the nation).
It's the ideal that the flag represents. It's the ideal that you are saluting when you salute it. And it's the ideal that you are respecting when you stand for the anthem. My issue with Kaepernick is that by refusing to show that respect, he isn't making a statement about the current state of the US but essentially saying that the ideals are wrong. This is essentially "giving up" on the concept of a nation based on the rights of individuals ever being able to be "good" in his eyes. And the problem with that is that when you don't care about something, you're not likely to spend any effort fixing it or maintaining it. When people say they love their country, they aren't idiots who are unaware of the flaws, but rather that they believe that if they work to make the country better, it can come as close as possible to the ideals that we all (presumably) hold. If you hate your country, then what? Are you going to work to fix it? Why? You've just stated, quite emphatically that you don't just dislike the country, but the ideals that the country is founded on.
Because that's what the flag really represents. And yeah, you have the freedom to disrespect it. To burn it in effigy if you want. To stomp on it if you want. But you can't do that and then claim you are trying to make things "better". You're just making a show. And mostly you're showing your own misunderstanding of what the flag and anthem really are about. Again, how can you possibly strive to make the US a better country, if you don't know what the ideals of the country are, nor seem to care about them? Now maybe he's just misinformed and he thinks that standing for the anthem means accepting the status quo of the nation as it is now, and that's something he doesn't want to do. And I can even understand that. But that is his own misunderstanding of things. If that was what it was about then you'd have to conclude that the founders didn't really think slavery was wrong, because they thought respect for the symbols of the nation was important, even while knowing quite well that the nation they had built was far from perfect.
It's the ideals that matter in this case. Because it's a symbol of those ideals. And that's what Kaepernick is disrespecting when he refuses to stand for the anthem. And yeah, I have an issue with that.