What Colin Kaepernick taught me about July 4

They used to say newspapers were the first draft of history. And take it from your self-indulgent correspondent — every first draft is cringeworthy.

That woeful title has since been hijacked by social media. Carping about Twitter and Facebook is too large a target, though. This weekend, I experienced what everyone with 280 characters or less would like to encounter in their rudimentary feed of thirst-trap pics, cat videos and hot takes.

Colin Kaepernick inspired a bona fide satori.

Oh, it was purely accidental. There’s no way in hell he wanted that out of me, but it was a discovery about the human condition nevertheless.

Virtually all of my previous Kaepernick opinions have been exclusive to football. I’m a former sportswriter, not an expert on race relations. I prefer to stay in my lane.

On Twitter for July 4, the former NFL quarterback turned social justice warrior posted about how the holiday revels in white supremacy, slavery and how “we reject your celebration…”

There were three ways to react to his tweet. One would be to agree. The second would be to take offense. My initial reaction was, So be it, more beer and barbecue for me. Where are the illegal fireworks?

Kaepernick’s online foes — which are about as legion as his fans — hastily screen-captured his tweets of years prior, where he thanked the military and the good ol’ U.S. of A. on July 4. What a hypocrite, they decried.

Only prior opinions do not make the man a hypocrite. It is more than plausible to say the man evolved over time.

Social media is simply the messy first draft of your own philosophy, not holy writ carried down from Mt. Sinai.

From that spawned if not a revelation, then surely a reminder: We are all capable of transformation and have evolved through our lives. Your reconsidered beliefs become the second and third draft of your own history, so to speak. On a grander scale, society also changes. Our society, our American society, tends to evolve quicker thanks in great part to our First Amendment.

To rebuke Kaepernick as a hypocrite is to deny him the capability to change. To deny Kaepernick of that is to further deny yourself of the same. And again, that of a nation.

Kaepernick turned away from his first draft about July 4. Fine. You can look at his current opinions as poison to society, hypocritical claptrap or as I do, a reminder to see if I’ve stopped growing on the intellectual plane.

Which I’m happy to do. We should constantly ask ourselves if we can be better people.

I also think of his current opinion as a blessing that the Bill of Rights wasn’t approved on the first draft, either. That first draft had 17 amendments. Anyone want to take a stab at listing the 10 we wound up with? Me neither.

I am overjoyed these white dudes in the goofy wigs rewrote that First Amendment until it sang. Same for that preamble to the Declaration of Independence. Even if they were the evil, irredeemable slave owners some would have you believe, those passages became the antidote to slavery.

All men are created equal. We were allowed to communicate that until the obvious conundrum rose: Wait a minute, those guys over there must be created equal, too.

Those passages forced the government to back off so that society can evolve. Many governments will not back off. As we evolved, we rejected slavery. Many countries on this globe haven’t.

I know criminals who evolved into family men, career men. I can’t imagine the path being particularly easy, but a society that allows for evolution at least opens a slender path. Both sinner and saint live under the thumb of other governments that do not permit change.

So to Kaepernick, I’m cool with you evolving, dude. When you tweet, or when like-minded friends post about society’s ills, I promise not to look for hypocrisy or to wail about your hatred. Instead, I’ll see if you have a point.

But know this: It may not have been your intent, but you just reminded me of what makes me happy I’m an American. More than happy, actually. I’d go so far to say proud.

Somebody tap the keg for me, please.

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