Kaepernick has a right to express his opinion
Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest has attracted much interest. While his behavior has drawn support and criticism, it is downright wrong to call him anti-American.
By choosing to kneel during the national anthem, Kaepernick is exercising, to the fullest extent of the law, his First Amendment right to freedom of speech. His actions reveal a man trying to fight what he sees as an injustice in legal and nonviolent ways.
Calling Kaepernick anti-American and unpatriotic shows that people have forgotten one of the things that makes America so great; namely, we can criticize it. Having freedom means being able to question the government, the leaders and the laws. It means being able to express controversial viewpoints without fear of imprisonment or murder.
I am a French professor and a proud American. My patriotism stems not from ignorance but from firsthand experience of living and working abroad. I cherish the rights and freedoms I have as a U.S. citizen because I know these rights are not universal. Claiming that America is the best country without having a global perspective is the equivalent of saying Cheez Whiz is the best cheese because it’s all you’ve ever known. Spoiler alert, cheddar is pretty good, too.
America is a great country not because it doesn’t have flaws but because in spite of them it stands proud. While you may be against Kaepernick’s message, you cannot be against his right to express it. Censoring the speech of others because you don’t agree is the true unpatriotic act. This is why I kneel with Kaepernick.
Nicole Bojko, Ph.D.