Standing Up By Sitting Down

Colin Kaepernick

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) stands with teammates Derek Carrier (46) and Carlos Hyde (28) during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL football game against the New York Giants Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
― James Baldwin

“America is not static. America is striving. And sometimes, America requires critique. Jingoism is an avoidance of realism. You can simultaneously love and be disappointed in the object of your love, wanting it to be better than it is. In fact, that is a measure of love. Honest critique is a pillar of patriotism.”

― Charles M. Blow

I’m going to do this in two parts because I was torn on which way to approach this. If you want more thoughtful, flowery rhetoric that is respectful in tone, stop reading when you hit the bold heading below.

If you don’t mind curse words and salt, feel free to read the whole way through…

Last weekend, before a game where men accused of sexual assault and domestic violence were cheered without hesitation, Colin Kaepernick sat and drew the ire of many. Contrary to your uncle’s post on Facebook, Kaepernick sitting during the national anthem was not a sign of disrespect for troops. Those brave men and women, many of whom are people of color who come from poorer families, proudly protect our nation. But they do not hold exclusive rights to our collective symbol.

I am as much the American flag as you and Kaepernick are.

After Trayvon Martin. After Mike Brown. After Tamir Rice.

When righteously justified anger sprang loose the tightly sealed lid of oppression, bricks met windows, and roads were blocked. And the white majority said “this is not the way.” The white majority said “we do not listen to your anger unless you speak in our privileged tongue.” So Kaepernick spoke in passive, nondisruptive language.

Using America’s loudest soapbox, professional sports, Kaepernick peacefully protested injustice, just as the white majority told him to, in literally a silent gesture. He would later explain his dissent in no uncertain terms, leaving no grounds by which to assume his intent was disrespect for the military.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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 used the very language of the GOP presidential candidate, who earlier this week suggested this country to be a broken mess that mistreats people of color.

But still they came…

Kaepernick’s white peers, knowing they must simultaneously demonstrate respect for the people of color who disproportionately comprise our best athletes but also recognizing where their “bread is buttered,” began dumping milquetoast comments. From Jim Harbaugh to Drew Brees, football goons walked a coward’s line, stating they agree with the principle behind Kaepernick’s intent but disagree with the method, the peaceful method, the non-riotous method, the non-traffic-disrupting method.

There can be no further proof that the real desire here is to ignore the “bodies in the street.” Why? Because, for the first time I can remember, attention was drawn to the suffering of people of color without requiring one of their dead bodies to gather it. For once, it didn’t take a black child shot to death to make us pause. A football player simply sat.

What Kaepernick did was patriotic. Period. Not bumper sticker patriotism. Not Lee Greenwood patriotism. Real patriotism.

His intent was to set eyes upon an issue that, if fixed, would make this nation greater, would help this nation fulfill the promise it made with fingers crossed behind backs, when color measured three-fifths. A patriot who fails to improve this country is no patriot at all.

It is okay that you are angered with Kaepernick’s actions. Smart, patriotic veterans have resoundingly explained that Kaepernick’s protest is the exact thing they and their brothers and sisters in arms fight, bleed, and die for. It is no wonder men and women asked to face the unimaginable following that flag would feel angry at his actions. Anger is the point.

If you’re angrier about a man sitting for a song than for the bodies of children in the streets, your anger is feckless and stupid. If what Kaepernick did angers you, that’s fine. Direct that anger where it belongs: to the systemic oppression of people of color. Be pissed at the people who made this protest necessary in the first place. You can disagree with his decision. You absolutely cannot fault him for trying in any way possible to draw attention to something this important.

I don’t particularly care for Kaepernick, the football player. And he’s done some profoundly stupid things on social media. But knowing the backlash would come, his jersey burned in effigy and his person subjected to intolerable racism, his decision to sit is unquestionably brave and inspiringly patriotic.

To put it another way: Either you accept that his message is more important than any irritation you feel at his method or you have your priorities terribly, terribly wrong.

Below here be angry swear words

You have to be fucking kidding me.

The NFL grinds its players into brain-dead lunchmeat and then jettisons them for fresher veal. There isn’t a team in the league that doesn’t have a member that beat the shit out of a woman or raped one. And people are pissed that a man sat during a song that glorified the murder of slaves?!

You “agree with his point but disagree with his message?” Dude, his method was fucking spot-on: He protested against black bodies littering the streets by sitting during a song that mentions black bodies being murdered.

What you are really saying if you’re overwhelmingly outraged by this action is that there is literally no way for a person of color to express fury on this issue. What you are really saying is “shut up, I don’t want to think about the bad shit we relentlessly allow and do to people of color, I just want you to chuck the football. Go Redskins!”

You know what we as a nation have done in the wake of the countless tragedies, from Sandra Bland to Eric Garner? Here’s a complete list:

Not a goddamn thing. Not one tiny baby step. If a player sitting down during a song pisses you off more than that, you’re literally the problem. YOU are the reason this shit keeps happening. Not Donald Trump. Not bad cops. YOU. This is YOUR fault. Because if you got half as angry about dead children as you do when a QB sits while everybody else stands, he wouldn’t have to fucking sit in the first place. Because we would have fucking fixed this shit ages ago. Don’t you dare clutch your pearls, suggest that the flag is “sacred” (Brees literally said that), and go right on not giving a shit about horrifying injustice happening beneath old glory.

You want Kaepernick to stand for the national anthem? Give people of color a goddamn reason to salute that flag.

 

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Who I’m Mad at More Than Donald Trump

Presumed sociopath and confirmed moron Donald Trump is a detestable asshole. The single best justification for his existence is the hilarious site that puts quote from Jenna Maroney from “30 Rock” over pictures of the human traffic cone in a toupee.

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And yet, Donald Trump isn’t the person I am most upset with in American politics right now. Trump is who he has always been: A naked emperor who doesn’t even bother to act like he’s wearing clothes; he just tells you “many people are saying that he was wearing the finest garments the whole time” and you’re a dummy for not knowing that. He makes no attempt to hide who and what he is. Fighting with a baby and insulting a Gold Star family was in absolutely no way off-brand for this shrimp-dicked loser who likely has less real financial assets than I do.

You may assume then that my animosity is strongest for the leaders of the Republican party who laid the groundwork for this human penis puppet to win the GOP nomination. Truth is, they are who they’ve always been too: Self-absorbed, myopic cash-grabbers more concerned with accumulating wealth and personal power than anything else. They’ve never once considered how detrimental to our democracy it is to have one of the only two viable parties in our system go loco for Coco Puffs. So long as the special interest checks kept coming, their eyes were watching that false God. At the end of the day, Paul Ryan still cares more about Paul Ryan than anyone or anything else, and that’s not a surprise to anyone who has seen those pictures of him flexing in that red baseball cap.

I’m also not the most mad at pundits and commentators. Their job has long been to give slobbery wet kisses to logic-defying positions held by those who sail beneath their ideological banner. If you can still manage to be outraged by Ann Coulter, you’re the only reason she still has a career.

So who am I most mad at?

I’m mad at the silent.

I’m mad at the intelligent, humane majority of Republicans who aren’t publicly deploring the state of their party. I’m furious with the educated, knowledgeable masses who are content to sit inside this house while it burns around them. I’m outraged by the bulk of conservatives failing to rise and demand better than a candidate who won’t disavow the Klan, who spreads lies as surely as he’s spread STIs, who is unrepentant and naked in his misogyny, who represents a clear and present danger to our security according to any and all who appraise him.

That infamous and depressing Edmund Burke quotation has been banging around my head, as the weeks of Trump’s inane candidacy stretched into months.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

I am furious at those doing nothing.

Because I refuse to believe that this fascist zealot really stands for this many Americans. No, he stands because they refuse to. He stands because they are unwilling to demand better. He stands because millions sat and sit on their hands, refuse to call out blatant evil, and won’t hold accountable a process that left a narcissistic mongoloid as a mouthpiece with a huge megaphone.

Watching some Republican statesmen condemning Trump long after their voices would have done any good is embarrassing. That it is unlikely to move purely partisan voters from their solid red voting patterns is all the more cowardly. You know, I have a lot of old bumper stickers on my car. They are the ghosts of candidates past. Some haunt me with near-miss failures, others inspire me with a legacy they’re still shaping. But I would stand up and be accounted for supporting each one of them, even those that lost.

May the ghost of the Trump candidacy haunt every person who failed to raise their voice against him.

Pete Ricketts Is Totally Cool With Porn!!!

Hold on, an outspoken anti-LGBTQ politician who frequently bible-bashes and moralizes on social media was caught in a sexually compromising situation?! Why this is downright believable! I mean, I could barely completely and totally have predicted this!

Regional asshole and full-time prick, Bill “Pew, Pew, Guns R Cool, Immigrants R Bad” Kintner allegedly fell for a scam and recorded himself doing dirty stuff. Kintner’s intellect hovers around “falling for the ‘got your nose’ trick.” So I’m not really surprised.

This could easily turn into a long blog post blasting the horny goofus, shown below wielding a more socially acceptable stick:

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(Photo is from The Lincoln Journal Star)

But we’ve heard this story before. The hypocrisy of right-wing nutjobs is so well documented, it’s not necessary to show yet another pea-brained jaghole content to tell you what to do with your winkie while doing whatever he wants with his.

No, this is a blog post about how Pete Ricketts is totally cool with pornography at work! Cue squealing guitar riff and high fives!!!!

I mean, what other conclusion could we possibly draw? He clearly states that he knew last summer there was the possibility that Wild Bill had a video on his government-owned computer of him doing nasty stuff. What did Pete do? Suggest Kintner resign…”if the allegations were true.” Then he immediately did not investigate if the allegations were true nor instruct anyone to do the same. Now, remember, Petey ran on a platform of treating the governorship as a CEO role. Yet, after finding out that one of his “employees” played Pee Wee Herman, Petey did what all bosses would do: Nothing. Wait…

There’s absolutely no indication from the Governor after several statements that, despite having EXTREMELY credible information that Kintner had bow-chicka-wow-wow content on his work computer, that Ricketts initiated any inquiry (formal or otherwise) as to the video’s existence. In a full calendar year, Ricketts’ entire actions seem to have consisted of letting Buffalo Bill ride off into the sunset. We know that Pete is super busy spending our tax dollars on murder drugs he can’t use. But surely he had enough time to send Paul from I.T. down to see if Hairy Bill had some XXX personal  files on his state computer! The only conclusion: PETE RICKETTS IS TOTALLY DOWN WITH PORN! 

It’s also worth mentioning, and this is the truly, profoundly screwed up part, that Kintner’s wife has ovarian cancer. She also works for Pete Ricketts. You’d think that Petey Pie would owe it to one of his cancer-stricken trusted advisers to figure out if her husband has video of him doodling his dangle on a work computer. Nah! Because PETE RICKETTS TOTALLY LOVES PORN! 

Here’s the thing: It’s screwed up that Kintner did this. We all know he will eventually go down (pun not intended) for this. The bigger issue involves Ricketts. He only has two choices, seemingly the only two he constantly decides between: Either he’s a moron who failed to follow through because he didn’t think it was important (the Ricketts hearts porn theory) or he didn’t investigate as a favor to a party colleague (the Ricketts hearts cronyism theory).

Since taking office, Ricketts has wasted money on illegal drugs he can’t use to carry out a death penalty we don’t have and played footsie with a number of scandals. By his OWN ADMISSION, he knew about this video a full year ago and failed to launch or request any kind of investigation. THAT is unbelievable. The fact that Bill the Butcher would have such a video is dramatically more believable.

The question is this: Nebraskans, how often are we going to allow Ricketts to turn our state into a national joke before we demand better? Lest you think I’m exaggerating, Ricketts has been roasted by John Oliver and this latest fiasco has found its way into papers in New York and Washington. If Pete says he runs Nebraska “like a business,” I ask you what you think should happen to a boss who looks the other way when his employee uses his work computer to go “full Ray J?”