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Stand the hell up, Kaepernick.

The fact that you have freedom to kneel during the national anthem is the very reason why you should be standing.

Do you have any concept of the number of men and women who have gone to war to defend that right? Do you realize that we currently have an all volunteer armed forces in America? That these men and women VOLUNTEERED to leave their loved ones behind so that they can go fight every day so that YOU can kneel during our national anthem? Think about that for a second. These people don’t know you, they’ve never met you. You, personally, are completely meaningless. But you are an American. And so they will fight to their death if they have to, so that you can live a life where you are free. Where you have rights. Where you can pursue your dreams.

And then, when they play the national anthem, and you take a knee.

A freaking knee.

Unbelievable.

I get that you think you are refusing to show pride in a country that “oppresses black people and people of color.” But that isn’t the only message that you are sending. You are sending a message of disrespect.

You really want things to change? You really want to make a difference? Go out into the community that you are concerned about. Work with them. Work with the youth. Donate some money for youth programs in these areas. Commit to helping to change their future. Not a fake, one-time commitment, but a  real commitment. A long term commitment that continues even after the cameras have been shut off and you aren’t front page news any more. Work with the police and help to bridge the gap in these communities. Education and reform, on both sides of this issue, is what will bring about the change.

When you kneel during the National Anthem you are showing a huge disrespect for our country. You are spitting in the face of the people who keep you safe. When people see you kneeling they don’t automatically think, “Well, would you look at that big-haired fellow kneeling. I wonder what he is protesting.” No, they automatically think, “Look at that asshole kneeling during our National Anthem. What a dick.” See? You bring out the ugly in people when you do that kind of thing. The mean. The hate. Isn’t that the exact opposite of what your “message” is supposed to be?

I have no problem with a gesture or symbol to bring light to the issue of racial inequality.  There is no “hush, hush, just don’t talk about it and it will go away” coming from over here. But it just seems that it makes more sense to do it in such a way that you don’t simultaneously offend such a huge amount of people that your message gets lost. Do it in a classy, purposeful way like some of the other NFL players that we have seen. Raise your fist. Link arms. Hold hands with your teammates in solidarity. You will be heard.

But for the love of God, man, stand the hell up and show some respect for your country. So your country can have some respect for YOU.