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Kaepernick’s message, not his contract, is the real issue

July 10, 2020 Letters to the Editor

If Ronald Vodenichar is not an honorary member of Black Lives Matter, he most certainly should be, judging from his recent writings.

If I thought for a second that I would be allowed the same full and unfettered range of expression Mr. Vodenichar doubtless gives himself on this page I would address some of the distortions presented in his published opinion regarding the Ahmaud Arbery case.

Since I am not going to be granted that same range of expression (I doubt that half of my paragraphs actually make it to print) I will address his most recent offering in regards to Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick’s career was not “abruptly ended.” He lost his starting job as the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers to Blaine Gabbert. This was not a product of racism. This was a result of multiple injuries and corrective surgeries that diminished Kaepernick’s ability to perform in a starting role. It’s also fair to point out that his career might have been extended had he accepted John Elway’s offer to play with the Denver Broncos, an offer Mr. Vodenichar conveniently fails to mention.

Kaepernick’s protests involved more than just the act of kneeling for our national anthem, a song Mr. Vodenichar distorts as a celebration of “war victories,” (Would Mr. Vodenichar prefer we had lost?). It also included wearing articles of clothing depicting police officers as pigs. Mr. Vodenichar also fails to mention whether he supports that portrayal.

But let’s get to the crux of the matter. It isn’t Kaepernick’s worthiness of an NFL contract that’s the main issue here, it’s his message.

Colin Kaepernick and his supporters seem completely oblivious to the fact that man’s inhumanity to man has existed throughout history and throughout every part of the world. The notion that white European males and their descendants, especially those here in the United States, own the repository of all of mankind’s sins is obscene.

It’s a vile characterization that Colin Kaepernick should be described as a “current day slave.” That statement is the product of a mind warped by an insidious ideology and wholly ignorant of the abject slavery that actually exists in other parts of the world to this very day. Mr. Vodenichar has no more notion of what it is to be a slave than Kaepernick himself, which is to say, none whatsoever.

A cursory look at Kaepernick’s background reveals that his ancestors on his father’s side were from present day Ghana and Nigeria. A bit of research on the history of those countries serves to reconfirm what I already knew.

Slavery was rife in the regions that today make up present day Ghana and Nigeria and most of pre-colonial Africa, the Middle East, and India, untold years, centuries even, before anyone there had ever even seen a European. (And, truth be told, exists there now.)

I don’t mention this in order to point fingers of blame. I recognize that we are all the products of the time we live in. This is true of the Akan peoples in pre-colonial Ghana. This is true of the Igbo in pre-colonial Nigeria. It’s also true of Christopher Columbus.

But the conversation of who played what role in the institution of slavery wouldn’t be nearly as relevant without considering a product of our own time.

The supposed legacy of European colonialism, especially here in America today, is “systemic racism,” mostly exemplified by the tragic deaths of young black men killed by the police.

There are, sadly, many examples from which to choose. Almost all of them share a common thread — a defiant confrontation with the police which ultimately leads to the death of a young black man.

Let’s look at the Michael Brown case, an incident that roughly coincides with, actually precedes, Kaepernick’s protests, and serves as a clear example of my point.

Thorough legal proceedings followed the tragic death of Michael Brown. Those legal proceedings reached a number of conclusions. Among those conclusions is that Michael Brown struggled for control of officer Darren Wilson’s gun. In the course of that struggle two shots were fired inside Wilson’s patrol car. A subsequent attempt by Wilson to arrest Brown resulted in an aggressive advance, a bum-rush if you will, on Wilson by Brown. That in turn led to Brown’s fatal shooting.

Is this an example of “systemic racism”? It seems to me an example of systemic lawlessness which is actually being encouraged now to reach a certain political end.

In what other country could Michael Brown have struggled for control of a gun with an armed police officer and not been shot? Ghana? Nigeria?

I myself don’t think so

John Christofano, Butler Township