Are The Kneelers Protesting America? Just Ask Kaepernick

Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Scott Greer Contributor
Font Size:

Is kneeling for the national anthem an act of patriotic dissent, or is American patriotism really just racism?

This is the strange debate taking place on the Left in response to the national anthem protests engulfing the NFL at the moment. For liberals, the kneeling represents the best in America and is just the kind of protest the Founding Fathers would approve of.

These athletes are not protesting America or the flag or the troops — they’re simply calling attention to the injustice of police brutality.

This is the most common opinion of those defending the protests. However, there is a notable current among the Left that sees the protests as demonstrations against the racist state that is America.

HuffPost contributor Jesse Benn offered the smoking hot take on Tuesday that white players who stand for the anthem “stand for white supremacy.”

Benn argues that the flag and the anthem represent the awful legacy of a white supremacist nation, and white players are just relishing in their own privilege by engaging in patriotic displays.

In a tweet responding to one of his many critics, the HuffPost writer linked to an article asserting the Star-Spangled Banner is actually a celebration of slavery, leaving one with the impression that we need to scrap that anthem altogether.

The Root’s Terrell Jermaine Starr was another writer who saw the kneeling as resistance towards oppressive patriotism. According to Starr, “Patriotism Is for White People.”

“The American flag, drenched in the blood of American Indians and enslaved Africans, has been romanticized as a symbol of guardianship for all citizens of this nation,” is the opening sentence of The Root’s writer article refuting patriotism.

To Starr, “America is racist. Its history, its culture and, if this recent election is any indicator, many of its citizens are tied to racism and the benefits it provides them.”

The African-American writer says that the flag and the anthem are just representations of “white hegemony” and are used to protect anti-black violence.

Unlike Benn who at least seems open to some sort of all-inclusive American patriotism, Starr states, “There is no redemption in any of it.” Racism is “patriotism in action,” in his opinion.

These are views that are not likely to go down well with the majority of Americans, and liberals who have tried to claim patriotism for their side of the kneeling debate are sure to dismiss these opinions as that of the fringe.

However, the person who started all the kneeling in the first place has said many of the same things. When first asked to explain why he was protesting the anthem, Colin Kaepernick replied, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Kaepernick did not say he thought America was a great country that just had a problem of police abuse. He specifically identified the nation as an evil oppressor of people of color. Additionally, he has shown support for various black nationalist figures and the deceased Cuban communist Fidel Castro.

This is hardly the all-American patriot that liberals have tried to imagine as the archetypal kneeler. There’s a reason both Benn and Starr rely on Kaepernick’s words and actions to justify their arguments.

Acknowledging this anti-American bent to the protests leaves liberals at a disadvantage. They have been arguing against Trump and his supporters that the anthem protests display no animosity to the nation in order to win public support to their side.

The anthem controversy and the mixed defenses of the protest illustrates a greater problem for the American Left. Since Trump took office, liberals have taken to depicting themselves as the true patriots and the real heirs of the Founding Fathers.

When Trump has shown interest in immigration restrictions, progressives rush forth to declare them un-American and brandish the Statue of Liberty poem — event though it isn’t a law or a founding document.

The mainstream Left knows that it helps their cause to be on the side of the flag and patriotism.

At the same time, they fawn over writers and figures like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Colin Kaepernick who think America is racist at its core. Thomas Jefferson — the man who wrote “all men are created equal” — has become a hated figure to the Left and statues dedicated to him are the most threatened besides Confederate memorials.

Yet, liberals will still evoke Jefferson when they need to defend left-wing activists who consider the founder a vile racist.

It seems that the far-left is gaining ground in the general debate over America’s historic symbols.

Democrats have ditched their traditional Jefferson-Jackson dinners due to the “problematic” nature of those two presidents. Columbus Day is turning into Indigenous Peoples Day. Wearing red, white and blue to a high school basketball game is now seen as an act of hate. (RELATED: Students Denounced As Racist For Wearing US Flag Colors)

It’s only a matter of time until lawmakers want the anthem changed because Francis Scott Key was a proud slaveholder.

Democrats and liberals can still appropriate patriotism for their cause, but if they continue to follow the logic of their woke peers, they’ll eventually end up agreeing whole-heartedly with Terrell Jermaine Starr.

Which will leave the Right having sole domain over the flag.

Regardless of the talking points issued by liberals in defense of the protests, there’s more to the kneeling than standing up to police brutality and Trump.

Both the kneelers and the boycotters understand that.


Follow Scott on Twitter and buy his new book, “No Campus for White Men.”