OPINION: Kaepernick’s protests are his right, even if it offends people

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(File Photo by Hannah Hunsinger | The Collegian)

Allow me to share a confession: I am a veteran of the United States Army.

Allow me to share another: The protests by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, which have included sitting or kneeling during the pregame playing of the national anthem at NFL football games, have not offended me in the least.

Racism is a problem here in the U.S.

People have a right to protest when they feel the government, or those in power over them, are overlooking their interests. They have a right to be heard so long as they do so in a peaceful manner. Once they become violent, their protest equates to a rebellion, and governments have a right to defend themselves from such things.

Kaepernick’s protests do not constitute rebellions. They are not violent, nor do they physically harm any other person.

If you listen to Kaepernick’s statements to the media, he’ll tell you his protests are not aimed at veterans but at what he perceives to be the diminishing inclusiveness of what the flag represents. He just has a problem with some of the issues that exist in the U.S. and how they are being handled by those in authority. He has a right to protest that.

On the other side, there have been counter-protests such as what the Washington Spirit of the Women’s National Soccer League did, moving the national anthem’s playing in the program so it happened before the teams came on the field, preventing Seattle midfielder Megan Rapinoe from kneeling in protest the same way she had done in a previous game in support of Kaepernick.

While depriving Rapinoe of the chance to protest was in my opinion wrong, the team’s owner had a right to do it, just as Kaepernick and Rapinoe and people all over America have the right to protest peacefully over whatever they feel necessary.

If you agree with Kaepernick’s protests, that’s OK.

If you agree with people protesting those protests, that’s OK too.

Whichever side you agree with, the bottom line for me is that my government service and the benefits that service stand for apply equally to all.

Those in the military defend the rights of all American citizens. They do not just protect the rights of those they like, agree with, believe the same as or worship the same God with. They defend everyone.

I hope Kaepernick continues to protest. The longer he does, the more likely someone is going to get so sick of being offended that they are actually going to figure out how we can make some progress.

How about we as a society stop taking the easy way out by simply being offended. What if we instead choose to do the hard thing, the right thing, and handle the issues people are protesting about so that they don’t have the need to protest in the first place.

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Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.