Former Mississippi Valley State great Jerry Rice has more respect for the American flag than peaceful protests against injustices minorities endure.
Rice, a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee — and considered the greatest ever to play the sport – made that very clear in a single tweet posted late Monday in response to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the national anthem in protest of the mistreatment of African-Americans.
Rice was one of many current and former NFL players and coaches who did not stand in solidarity with Kaepernick’s method of dissent.
Brazenly stating “All Lives Matter” in a climate in which the phrase has been used by whites to decimate the cries of black citizens who demand their humanity be valued shows a surprising tone-deafness from a man who grew up in the same state where this past May a small town school system was ordered to desegregate.
But this is the same Rice who denied racism was at the root of how Cam Newton was evaluated prior to being taken with the No.1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
In the days since Kaepernick made international headlines for his public, but silent display of activism, the embattled signal-caller has been described as un-American, disrespectful to military veterans and the nation’s symbolic values.
The question must be asked why the Stars and Stripes evoke such an almost deity-like protection from anyone who decides the pieces of cloth used to assemble it fail to reflect its ideals.
If the national anthem, and the flag flown in every stadium in the country is so sacred, then we must ponder why it is tied to something as trivial as sporting events, where fans drink themselves into an intoxicated state and hurl four-letter words at men in costumes they have no real connection to.
It could be argued that sports – especially football – are a procurator for military combat as the explanation.
America after all was founded on violence and war – the forceful gathering of territory and resources for power.
So football, a game where men mangle their bodies in the pursuit of terrain, is a perfect representation of the ultimate tribe versus tribe conflicts this country was founded on.
Any apathy toward the flag is viewed as treason committed against America and the men and women who used violence under its authority.
But history revealed that the author of the Star Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key, was a slave owner who often defended the practice of oppression.
The flag itself, according to legend, was the inspiration Key used to write the famed poem that eventually was adopted as the county’s walk-up music.
Key, Rice and others, value tradition and nationalistic indoctrination over the racist origins of the symbols they want unchallenged.
It’s why the detractors ignorantly use dead soldiers to spout falsehoods claiming that they died to protect citizen rights and freedoms even though no one can explain how wars executed on foreign soil accomplished that. Especially when black soldiers who fought were not allowed to vote until the Civil Rights Act was passed a little more than a half-century ago.
Not once have critics been compelled to address the social issues Kaepernick so brilliantly brought forth. Their refusal to advance the conversation beyond a song and an inanimate object prove Kaepernick’s grievances worthy.
Kaepernick’s stance uncovered America’s true colors. And they are anything but those which adorn the flag.