NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice and oppression has sparked a stormy national debate about patriotism and freedom.
"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 told NFL Media following the incident. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
Kaepernick's protest has drawn strong criticism, most of which center around the charge that he is disrespecting the Holy Grail of American values — the (admittedly subjective) idea of freedom.
Exhibit A: this tweet accusing Kaepernick of disrespecting the freedom that Pat Tillman, an NFL player who enlisted in the army after 9/11 and died in Afghanistan, fought to protect.
But Kaepernick has his supporters, too, many of whom argue that this freedom includes the right to protest as he sees fit. And among those coming to his defense are military veterans who are tweeting under the hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick.
Cover image via Ga Fullner / Shutterstock.com