By Sam Krueger
There is a massive disconnect between the American public about what Colin Kaepernick’s protest means.
Let me get two things out of the way. First, Kaepernick absolutely has a right to express himself the way he has. Few people disagree about this. Second, he has accomplished his goal, as long as his goal was to do everything but draw sympathy towards his cause.
A Reuters poll taken months after the start of the protest shows that 72 percent of Americans think that his method of protest is unpatriotic while 61 percent said they do not agree with his movement. In addition, support for the Black Lives Matter movement, an organization that aligns with his views, has actually decreased in the year following his first protest. Surveys show that almost 60 percent of Americans now view the movement unfavorably. Multiple polls conducted and analyzed by Fivethirtyeight in 2017 show similar results.
Even more polls show that the country overwhelmingly disliked Nike’s stunt. Their favorability amongst all major American demographics has fallen considerably. Their market value has also plummeted by billions of dollars.
Most Americans view Kaepernick’s protest as disrespectful.
The outrage for many is justified and it has nothing to do with his right to protest.
If someone burns the American flag in protest, I say that that person has a right to do it, but that doesn’t make them any less of a disgrace.
To many Americans, this is a big middle finger to what they identify as the most. To them, Kaepernick’s protest, with his justification, is the equivalent of flicking someone off and saying, “Oh, don’t worry, I actually like you, I just don’t like certain parts of you.” The intention may be specific but the insult is broad, and for many, this has become personal.
It doesn’t matter what you think your protest is about, sitting for the national anthem while able bodied is disrespectful. His subject of protest, or his intentions, do not negate that fact. The offense need not be intended, but it is still projected.
In the end, this is not a situation that ends in consensus. It could, however, end in mutual understanding. If people are willing to listen to one another and accept, rather than reject the reality of this protest, maybe people will be able to peacefully deal with it and our country can simply move on.