And now, socks.
Yes, socks. Some sleuth has discovered that Colin Kaepernick wore socks during an August 10 49ers practice showing a cartoon pig in a policeman’s hat, and the news cycle spins again, moving the target conveniently to make it look like a new twist on what is essentially the same story.
This discovery has re-inflamed the issues of freedom of expression vs. insult vs. ethnicity thickets vs. public outrage vs. public support, and ultimately how each of us hears what we want to hear, the way we want to hear it, and then puts up our deflector shield for the virulent response.
When again, what we really have here is more proof that Kaepernick actually did not know what the size of the blowback from his anthem sit-in would be.
Because he didn’t figure on feet.
At the core of this lunacy is Kaepernick’s message that the anthem and, by extension, the American flag, are symbols of a nation that should do a better job of walking what it talks. And while everyone agrees that he has the right to say as he wishes, that is the end of the agreement, and since then people have fashioned their own arguments on their own issues surrounding what constitutes social protest and where the border between that and calculated insult.
So hurray for us. We took a fairly unambiguous statement about one man’s objection to police brutality and turned it into a wasp hive of screeching about our own particular annoyances. We morphed a sedentary figure into a referendum on the entire nation and each citizen’s roles and responsibilities and benefits within it.
Frankly, we may have taken a potentially useful debate and turned it into a piefight – because in the end, we’d really rather have the piefight than address the issue.
That is almost surely the real lesson of l’affaire Kaepernick – that we will do anything to anything to make, promote, inflate and revel in spectacle, while refusing to consider the issue that sparked the shriekers’ ball in which we currently revel. We have tailored this issue to meet our own need for adrenalized hate-tertainment, and to our credit, we’ve done a hell of a job.
We’ve fixated on what San Diego’s reaction to Kaepernick’s appearance tonight will be, because it makes spectacular television. We’ve amused ourselves with arguments over who actually is allowed to point out inequities within the system. We’ve let our emotions be guided by costumery – Kaepernick sits in street clothes and nobody notices, but he sits in uniform and all hell breaks loose. Then he wears socks, and hell reignites. We’ve even covered the foodie lobby by notion that he is now a vegan, and being a vegan of course is a political statement rather than an eating preference because, well, because we want it to be.
We want this mess, and we’ve tailored it to hit all our hot buttons. Without knowing it, Colin Kaepernick has reached down America’s gaping yap and pulled it inside out, letting us all see what we think is important as opposed to what actually is.
And what do we think is important? Mostly, our constitutionally protected right to point out loudly, aggressively and obstinately why everyone around us has failed. This is the new America – avoiding commonality at all costs in search of the things that allow us to dismiss each other as unworthy.
Colin Kaepernick wanted to create a discussion about incidents of police brutality, and what he did was create a referendum by us, on us. And right now, we suck.
But at least we’ll always know we have time in our busy days to argue about socks.