Colin Kaepernick probably wasn’t fired for his activism, which is not to say he shouldn’t have been

Colin Kaepernick probably wasn’t fired for his activism, which is not to say he shouldn’t have been
Eric Reid (left) and Colin Kaepernick (Image: YouTube screen grab)

My primary beef with Nike’s new ad campaign is that it clearly insinuates that poster boy Colin Kaepernick’s long period of unemployment is somehow linked to his political activism, a conclusion that is speculative at best. The truth is that during the 2016 season, Kaepernick’s last and the one in which he made such a spectacle of himself, the 49ers won just two games out of eighteen. Could it be that Kaepernick was fired not for showing flagrant disrespect for his country but because he sucked at his job?

It’s hard to say. The 49ers have never said that they let their quarterback go because of the whole kneeling thing. But they wouldn’t, would they? No, they’d lie about it because admitting that they canned their starting quarterback for that reason would invite accusations of racism: Kaepernick is half-black.

It would also mean that they don’t support free speech — which they aren’t required to. As liberals continually remind us, free speech does not mean freedom from consequences. No one is putting Kaepernick in jail. He merely lost his job, possibly for alienating the fans — a quite reasonable justification for firing someone — and possibly for leading his team to a last place finish in the NFC.

This whole debate about why Kaepernick was fired amounts to a tricky surgical separation between two completely legitimate reasons for termination. Sure, Kaepernick’s big mouth might be to blame. Employers frequently discipline their employees for what they say. But on the other hand, Kaepernick could have just been fired because his club felt like winning again.

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Given that both reasons for termination are valid, who cares which played a greater role?

For all those who argue that Kaepernick was fired solely for his activism, I would ask you to consider the fact that two other members of the 49ers organization were also fired at the end of the 2016 season: head coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke. No surprise there. When NFL teams finish last in their conference they often try to make a clean break by dumping those in leadership positions. Such is life in the competitive world of professional sports.

It isn’t difficult to see why Kaepernick would want the public to believe that he was given a pink slip for taking a stand — or rather, a knee. Otherwise we’d just think that he was fired for his piss-poor performance.

My secondary beef with the Kaepernick ad campaign is that it fails to address the real issue underlying the anthem-kneeling. We talk a lot about whether he had a right to speak (of course he does) when we should be talking about whether what he said was actually right.

The idea that this country is beset with racist police brutality is a blood libel in the truest sense of the term. It has also led to relaxed policing where it’s needed most (the Ferguson effect) and retributive violence against cops.

In this great big country that we live in, there are bound to be episodes in which police officers use force, sometimes deadly force, in the course of their duties. In some cases that force is justified but in others it isn’t. Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter movement seem unwilling or unable to distinguish between the two.

When force is not justified we call that police brutality, which is a criminal abuse of government authority. We should absolutely condemn police brutality.

But even in cut-and-dried instances of police brutality, racism cannot simply be assumed as a motive. Doing so represents a logical leap that depends on the very inexact science of attributing motives. We all attribute motives from time to time, though BLM seems to do it recklessly and with extreme prejudice.

The movement has created the impression that black people have something to fear from the police simply for being black, as if cops go out on patrol just itching to shoot a random black person. They ignore the fact that more whites are killed by police every year than blacks. Those incidents are usually featured only as quick stories on the local news because they don’t fit the narrative.

The narrative is “Black man shot by white police officer” — which is automatically assumed to be because the cop doesn’t like black people. There’s no room in this tidy story for complicating detail. Was the suspect resisting arrest? Did he have a gun or what appeared to be a gun? BLM doesn’t care. Yet despite this wolf pack of supposedly racist cops roaming the streets, black Jehovah’s Witnesses selling
“The Watchtower” on the street corner never seem to be gunned down despite being just as black as Michael Brown or Eric Garner. Clearly something else is at play here.

In reality, police officers of all colors occasionally shoot citizens of all colors. Sometimes those killings are justified, sometimes they’re not. Each incident is its own story with its own set of facts.

Sometimes black cops kill blacks, as was the case with Keith Scott in Charlotte. Sometimes Asian cops kill blacks, as was the case with Akai Gurley in Brooklyn. Sometimes white cops shoot whites, as was the case with Daniel Shaver in Mesa, Ariz. And finally, sometimes black cops shoot whites, as was the case with Justine Damond in Minneapolis.

Of these aforementioned examples, the first (Keith Scott) was justified and the second (Akai Gurley) was an unfortunate episode caused by a nervous and inexperienced cop who negligently discharged his firearm in the dark stairwell of a housing project. The last two of these examples, which involved white victims, were completely unjustified, yet BLM ignores these and focuses instead on a burly thug (Michael Brown) who tried to kill a cop with his own gun and a drug dealer (Freddie Gray) who was fanatically resisting arrest.

Some evidence indicates that cops are more likely to shoot whites than blacks because they don’t believe that their motives will be second-guessed or that they will have to watch their backs for the rest of their lives. In 2015, after a sheriff’s deputy in Kentucky killed a crazed white man named John Fenwick, the sheriff himself was asked if he was afraid of public backlash — a very dumb question indeed. When has a city ever burned because a white guy got shot? Sheriff Ed Mattingley responded: “We do not want trouble. We are glad that he is white, and we shouldn’t have to be worried about that.”

Glad he was white!

But Colin Kaepernick never took a knee for John Fenwick. Nor does he speak up for Justine Damond or Daniel Shaver. He doesn’t care about them. He cares about blacks who are shot by police, whether justifiably or not, solely because they are black. There’s nothing heroic about that and certainly isn’t a blow against racism.

So why does this failed professional athlete deserve a Nike endorsement? His activism probably didn’t cost him his job and, more importantly, there’s no reason it should not have. People sometimes lose their jobs for what they say especially when they do it so vulgarly and on national television.

Colin Kaepernick peddles a very big lie — that cops routinely kill blacks for sport — which has contributed to a lot of scattered corpses and riots. And on top of that, he’s a lousy quarterback.

Find another poster boy, Nike. This one’s a dud.

Benny Huang

Benny Huang

Benny Huang is a lonely conservative in the very liberal Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. Born in Taiwan, he came to the United States at a young age. He also blogs at Patriot Update.