True—Kaepernick Didn’t Sacrifice “Everything”

True—Kaepernick Didn’t Sacrifice “Everything” September 17, 2018

As I’ve written before, I like and respect the President of Gateway Seminary, Dr. Jeff Iorg.  However, I was struck again by something he wrote recently and felt it needed to be addressed.  Unless one has been living under a rock, she is aware of the controversy surrounding NFL players kneeling while the national anthem is being played.  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the player who started it off as a way to protest, not the national anthem, or America, or the flag, but, rather, violence against people of color by those in authority.

Fast forward to the recent Nike advertisement, which features Kaepernick and has brought the controversy back to the forefront while causing its own in the making.  Clearly what bothers Dr. Iorg in the advertisement is the idea Mr. Kaepernick sacrificed, “everything.”  Dr. Iorg’s point seems to be, “everything” would be one’s life.  Point taken.  Noted.

Here though, are the areas where I think Dr. Iorg fell far short in his criticism:

First, he writes:

“When Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem, and persuaded other athletes to follow his lead, it really didn’t offend or inspire me. It was just another protest…”

Just, “another” protest.  Folks, this is exactly what white privilege sounds like.  Perhaps it didn’t offend or inspire Dr. Iorg because he doesn’t have to worry about being pulled over for a traffic violation, or being miss-identified, and end up beaten or killed in the process.  Perhaps he doesn’t have to worry about that happening to his children, grand-children, or friends.  Guess what?  Others do worry about such things and we need to hear them.

And it does not matter whether we feel their claims are valid or not.  When a community, which has experienced as a matter of historical fact, racism and poor treatment by those in authority, comes to us with their claims, we need to listen and see how we can help.  How in the world is this not clear, especially, to someone within the Southern Baptist tradition?

Second, Dr. Iorg brings up people who have died in military service to this country.  These are the people who have sacrificed, “everything.”  Putting aside the fact that some of Mr. Kaepernick’s most vocal defenders have been military veterans, yes, he is right, Mr. Kaepernick didn’t sacrifice his life.  Given his role as a private citizen, and the fact he is not in the military, I’m not sure exactly what it is Dr. Iorg thinks he should do to make his sacrifice more meaningful or important.  Should he throw himself off a bridge?  I imagine he’s received death threats.  Should he make himself available to those making the threats?  What?

Most reasonable people know Mr. Kaepernick, or Nike, did not mean he had done something as sacrificial as dying for someone else.  To compare the two or conflate them in the way Dr. Iorg does, for purposes of downplaying or making light of Mr. Kaepernick’s protests, is an adventure in missing the point.  Any serious protest, where significant and weighty matters are involved, does not need the protester to lose his life for that protest to matter and be taken seriously.

Further, I’m sure Mr. Kaepernick is aware of the sacrifices, soldiers and others have made on his and the country’s behalf.  I’m sure he is appreciative and would never compare the losses from protesting, with the sacrifice one might be called to make as a soldier.  He’s never made such a comparison.  I’m also sure he understands and appreciates the sacrifices made for his freedom to protest.  For context however, we should not forget those who also lost their lives as a result of their protests during the Civil Rights Era.  I think Mr. Kaepernick is aware of the difference between losing one’s life as a soldier and the type of losses he’s experienced as a private citizen due to protest.  That difference however, should take nothing away from the weight of his protests—or anyone’s for that matter.

Finally, Dr. Iorg is correct: Mr. Kaepernick didn’t sacrifice, “everything.”  He only sacrificed his career, millions of dollars, his safety, and his dreams of playing professional football.  I’m sure he’s lost friends and maybe even family over this too.  He has made many enemies.  Those losses were hardly, “shallow,” or, “pampered.”  Only Mr. Kaepernick really knows what he has lost and sacrificed by taking the stand he did for others.  But, yes Dr. Iorg, you are right, he did not give his life.

Here is what he did give however: He sacrificed what he had, to be a voice for those who felt they had none.  He sacrificed what he had, so that a powerful focus could be brought to bear on a problem which has caused many to live in fear for themselves, their children, and their communities.  As a private citizen, he has done what, at the very least, was in his power to do.

The last time I checked, I thought doing that sort of thing was what Christians were supposed to do.  Dr. Iorg, as a Christian leader, have you sacrificed a career, significant money, friends, family, your safety, or your dreams—to be a voice for those who felt they had none?  I’m not asking if you have ever protested—you note that you have.  I’m asking if you have made the same sacrifices Mr. Kaepernick has, because of those protests.

If you haven’t, then maybe you should think twice about throwing shade his way.  Because guess what man: He’s doing your job.

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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    The story of the young man Iorg refers to as a counter-example is a tragedy. It’s no wonder Iorg writes that his community struggled to “make sense of his death.” He didn’t die protecting America; he died in the Iraq invasion. It’s horrible. I hope that young man’s bravery protected some of the soldiers who were in that firefight with him, but as to why any of them were in harm’s way in the first place, that’s a reason to protest.

  • Marianne Miller

    I agree completely. It’s so crazy out of control over Colin K. Seriously after what the public and NFL did to him, we will all be silenced. I think NOT!!! It’s wrong to crucify him. He had rights like all Americans are supposed to have. Social media is out of control. People don’t even mean what they say, they don’t even know what they say. People make quick calls with not near enough time to think it out on social media. The news catches up with our over the top of your head ideas and capitalizes for high ratings, further using Colin K. Within a day or two a person is on the chopping block. Thank God Trump knew to bury Colin or his followers would have Crucified him. Thank God NFL knew to crucify Colin or their followers would have crucified them. Now they are all happy, thinking they have their own set of rules and rights. Hopefully Nike and a few other brave companies will come to his rescue. Many of us realize, if you agree with the piranhas it’s only a matter of time before you may lose your balance and oops it’s game over for you too. I don’t get it at all, this viral apocalypse turning Americans against one another. Social media fans can’t wait to find something to stand up and fight for. I’m guilty, we are all guilty. I seriously don’t think we have a control switch as a species, especially when it comes to social media. It’s just twisted human outrage, just aimless, wayward entertainment. Hey we ruin his or her life, so be it. It’s all good! Sounds like a bunch of bullies to me. Pecking order, Hierarchical Human disorder disease gone mad. Just getting on my last nerve. He knelt for those who he felt can’t speak. He made a point and a few were brave enough to agreed, let it be. Get over it and go on to consume your next victim. Done!!!! Where is God in this picture?????Is he flying in the flag, gazing over those that died for us, feeling the sorry of those who feel persecuted or is he agreeing with Colin. None!!!! He is in none of this at all. He is so far above this ridiculous human attempt to decide who is right or wrong. He doesn’t care. He just wants to get on down here and save us all from each other. But he’s not ready just yet. We need to suffer one another just a little longer until we all agree on one little thing and that is when we all agree we just can’t run this World, Country, State, city, neighborhood, family and our social media without him. We are so disgustingly weak of nature and mind. True we really don’t want to give it up. We want to prove we got this but we don’t. I’m ready for BOTS to take over, at least they have no emotional control issues, more brains, and they never stop learning and working. Their job is superior to make it better and that’s what they do. We on the other hand, we can’t win for losing. A robot would fix this simple little hiccup. But us, oh it’s an Academy Award winner. Gonna be great, he’ll make millions again despite us.

  • Robert Limb

    Well said.

  • Excellent article! Good for Nike.

  • The Mouse Avenger

    Pardon me, but I have to disagree with your assessment of the Iraq War, I’m afraid. 🙁