Colin Kaepernick. You may not know football, or even like sports for that matter. But if you’ve paid any attention to the media, you know the name. From the moment he infamously kneeled down during the national anthem, Kaepernick entered the whirlwind of political dissent.
Unlike other tantrums that professional athletes and celebrities occasionally throw, this shocking act felt different, dare I say genuine. At that time, several high-profile incidents involving white law enforcement officers and black suspects dominated the media landscape. Unwilling to sit on the sidelines, Kaepernick objected in the most visible manner possible.
At first the lone wolf, many other athletes – including those unrelated to the NFL – followed suit. This immediately created a divide between conservative (mostly white) folks and the progressive left. From what I could determine, it felt that the public leaned slightly favorably to Kaepernick’s act of political dissent.
However, that sentiment – if correct – didn’t stop the former star quarterback from incurring serious consequences. His team at that time, the San Francisco 49ers, wouldn’t play him during his national anthem protests. Later, Kaepernick was no longer with the NFL, a monumental waste of talent and long-term potential.
This matter appeared a classic case of discrimination. After all, we’ve seen NFL players who committed horrible wrongs eventually find redemption with another team. Was kneeling during the national anthem worse than kneeing someone in the face?
We got our answer, in the form of a surprising settlement.
Settlement Stifles Future Political Dissent
On Friday, sports media broke the news that Kaepernick, along with NFL safety Eric Reid, had reached a settlement with the league. As part of the terms, both parties will no longer pursue any action regarding their joint complaint.
From what initially appeared a genuine form of political dissent has now turned into a sellout. Likely under great social and financial pressure, Kaepernick took the money. I can’t say I blame him. While he protested police brutality with others, he solely represented the audacious movement. As a result, he received a disproportionate penalty.
But by selling out to the NFL, the powerful elites that run our societies sent a message: political dissent will, for all practical intents and purposes, be no longer tolerated.
Perhaps the real tragedy here was that Kaepernick had a point. Even if you disagreed with him, he brought to mainstream America an extraordinarily raw and painful story. It’s the type of narrative that, had Kaepernick not forced us into attention, would have died an anonymous, quiet death.
Instead, the former quarterback made sure we knew about police brutality, even if you disagreed with his framework. I believe that the NFL and social powerbrokers knew that Kaepernick was getting somewhere with his political dissent.
At first, the media sharply criticized him. Later, they played the ultimate dirty trick: invoking the military on an issue that had absolutely nothing to do with them. None of it seemed to work.
Finally, the elites came across the fool-proof play: the Almighty Dollar. In hindsight, they should have led with that. It would have saved them a lot of time and BS.
No matter. They got to Kaepernick, and to freedom of speech as well.