On August 26th, 2016 Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem in a preseason game. His actions sparked a worldwide controversy and a divide in public opinions. Kaepernick recently stated to the NFL media, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color”. Was he right in choosing this public forum to “voice” his feelings? The 49ers released an unbiased statement regarding the situation and Chip Kelly said he would not tell him what to do and he neither supports nor criticizes Kaepernick’s action.
Kaepernick’s choice of not standing during the national anthem was in relation to the recent police brutality breakouts all over the United States. Although he is biracial, he stands firmly in his belief that our country is not just when it come to the treatment of it’s citizens. Kaepernick is not looking for approval from teammates, coaches, or fans, he strictly took his stance based on his emotions on the subject. He has been having these strong feelings for a few years now and is just now “voicing” his opinions on the matter.
Pathos is a rhetorical device that is used for creating an emotional response from the audience. Kaepernick believed that by not standing up during the national anthem he was making a stand against police brutality. If his goal was to evoke an emotional response from the audience, then he definitely achieved his goal. After the protest, he became a trending topic on most social media channels. There were many people all over the country who were expressive about how they felt towards Kaepernick. There were many who were angry because it is considered disrespectful to not stand during the national anthem. Then there were some people who agreed with Kaepernick because they are also angry about the police brutality. The pathos created from the situation was mainly brought about on Twitter. Several posted tweets about their reactions. This tweet from, @Dick_Blinken, reveals an opposing position to Kaepernick’s expression of his opinion.
I find this case interesting for many reasons, but the one I’ll comment on here is the connection between rhetoric and intentionality. His original “position” was to sit and not participate. That was a very unsatisfactory response since sitting was open to multiple interpretations. He was called disrespectful. Now he (and others) are kneeling or even locking arms. Note that these choices are more rhetorically effective since they offer an equal amount of intention to that of holding the hand across the heart. Even Kap has to manage his five canons well if he’s going to make a rhetorical impact!
I am a UNCW IMC student, but I have also been in the Air Force Reserve for the last 4 years. I understand what Collin Kaepernick is trying to do. I just do not believe displaying this act during our nations national anthem is the correct way. I am personal not offended by this while still being a military member and a believer that standing during this anthem is one of the best ways to show your respect for those who have given their life for this country and those who are serving it now. However I know plenty of my friends that are active duty that took this as a sign of treason and the ultimate disrespect. I also hope this particular stand does not continue to evolve more like it has since he started this, or I believe you will see more racial tension rise in this country even though he is trying to bring attention to stop it.
Kaepernick’s move has definitely made a huge impact in America’s news headlines and trends on social media. What’s particularly interesting is that his choices have seemed to make their way onto sites like Facebook and directly correlate with people’s political views. I can’t count how many comments I’ve seen about Kaepernick followed by “liberal” or “conservative” views. Our country already has so much unrest and division and this has stirred the pot even more. There are mixed arguments about his actions, but ultimately he has the freedom to do as he pleases. I personally do not think this was the best way to get his message across. The conversation he’s trying to instigate is indeed valid, but as a proud American and a relative to many military members, I find his actions disrespectful. It is also interesting to see a plethora of articles titled “I stand with Kaepernick.” Perhaps, “I kneel with Kaepernick,” would be a more appropriate title.
I personally think that Kaepernick not standing for the flag is very disrespectful. My husband is an active duty Marine and spends more time away from home than he does home just so he can defend this country’s freedom and a football player being able to get away with sitting during the national anthem does not seem right to me. People like him just influence others to take for granted the freedom we have because of the people who fought for this flag. There are other ways to express how he feels about the race problem in today’s society rather than disrespecting the men and women who sacrifice their lives.