December 27, 2016

Kaepernick the Hypocrite

Aaron Pearlstein ‘18

As the presidential election was winding down, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's protest of the Star Spangled Banner was still a major debate raging in the National Football League. For the past 11 weeks of the NFL season, Kaepernick has kneeled down during the national anthem.
Kaepernick explained that the racial injustice in the United States has become too great.
“To me, this is something that has to change,” he said.
Many fans and players have publicly agreed and disagreed with Kaepernick, making for a nationwide debate. One would think that someone who spoke so strongly about their beliefs on the national stage would be sprinting toward the voting booths on election day to cast a vote for the leader that backs his beliefs.
However, after the election, Kaepernick told the media that he did not vote in this year’s presidential election. This came as a huge surprise to many because he was the leader of a widespread, influential movement, yet chose not to vote. Reports later surfaced that he has never registered to vote in any election.
In the United States, when an American citizen turns 18, they gain the right to have a say in our government. From the beginning, many have thought Kaepernick's protest was just some publicity stunt. His choice not to vote makes it seem like that.
He had the chance to cast his vote for any party that he felt supported what he kneeled for, but refused to take that opportunity. As ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith said, “He comes off as a flaming hypocrite.”
Smith was once one of Kaepernick's strongest supporters in his protest of the national anthem. However, Smith now does not care what Kaepernick has to say about racial injustice and believes he is “completely irrelevant.”
As hard as it is to say, Smith is right. Kaepernick wanted change so badly but refused to act. Every American citizen over the age of 18 has been granted the unbelievable right to vote. It is what our democracy is all centered around – the ordinary citizen having a voice in the decisions implemented by the leaders of the country.
Differences of opinion are welcomed in our democracy. However, Kaepernick did not act on his call for change.
The racial injustice in this country is not something that can be ignored, which is why Kaepernick’s protest has gained such momentum. But still, Kaepernick's refusal to vote makes him seem irresponsible.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 granted African Americans with the right to vote. Kaepernick is not taking advantage of this right that so many before him fought to achieve. His call for social equality does not ring nearly as loud and maybe does not ring at all anymore.

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