Does Anyone Owe Colin Kaepernick An Apology?

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Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonderandhome.com

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39 Responses

  1. Avatar Dark Matter
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    says:

    I don’t watch football, and as such never saw him take a knee. When I heard about it at the time I thought it was just a matter of time before he was fired.

    You can be right on the issue and still be justly fired because the company doesn’t want their PR machine being used for your personal agenda.

    He’s a very high profile activist, and that’s a fine profession. Football cares about advancing the cause of football. Those two things are only at odds if he insists on them being at odds, but he did insist.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Dark Matter
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      says:

      He had been benched when this started. You have to have a lot of talent to overcome any sort of distraction. He was serviceable as a running QB but never was at that truly elite level.

      And I say that as someone who agrees with him at least that the issue presents a problem. Also think the patriotic stuff at ball games has been farcical for going on 20 years now.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to InMD
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        says:

        His wiki said he wanted $20 million to work for a team when it was implied he was worth FAR less.

        He was worth more as a fired football player than a failed one.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to Dark Matter
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          says:

          He allegedly asked $20 million to play in the AAF which didn’t even make it through its first and only season before it ran out of money. It isn’t clear to me how much to make of that without a lot of context.

          He had signed a pretty large contract going into the 2014 season after a good 2013 and leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 when Alex Smith was concussed midway through the season. However he never lived up to the 2014 contract (in addition to mediocre play he had durability/injury concerns). He was benched for Blaine Gabbert by 2 coaching regimes, then walked after Kyle Shanahan supposedly made noise about releasing him for scheme reasons as part of his rebuild. He hasn’t played since.

          Obviously I am not an NFL GM but I think his realistic value is in the neighborhood of RG3’s deal with the Ravens. So approx. $1 mil per year as a backup with incentives on a team that does a lot of read option offense.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to InMD
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            says:

            So approx. $1 mil per year as a backup with incentives on a team that does a lot of read option offence.

            So if he’s making more than a million a year because of taking a knee, he came out ahead.

            And that’s without thinking about football players ageing out of their careers a lot faster than activists.Report

            • Avatar InMD in reply to Dark Matter
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              says:

              Per Wikipedia his 2014 contract was $126 million with $54 million guaranteed. Assuming his finances were managed properly he was already at a point where he never had to work again.Report

  2. Avatar Doctor Jay
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    says:

    What we are trying to do in America – what we’ve been working at for the last 250ish years – is not easy for human beings to do. It takes work, by each generation, to establish it, to maintain it, and to improve it.

    It’s worth a fair bit of discomfort. Protest is not necessarily an act of hatred, but one of pain, of love, of wisdom, of longing.

    Against our will comes wisdom, through the awful grace of God

    Report

  3. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    There is a list of people to whom the world owes an apology.

    Sinead O’ Connor, who tried to warn us of the toxic culture that was the Church;

    The anti-war protesters in 2003 who warned that the war would be a quagmire;

    Hillary Clinton who warned us 2016 of what was to come.Report

  4. Avatar Stillwater
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    says:

    Does this count as an apology?

    We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.

    Video of Goodell eating some crow hereReport

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Stillwater
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      says:

      And that’s as close as there will be to an apology from the owners. Well, and however much they paid to get Kaepernick and Reid to drop the collusion case.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Michael Cain
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        says:

        There were far worse quarterbacks who had jobs when Kaepernick did not; he was colluded against as clearly as Barry Bonds was. The settlement was a tacit admission of that.Report

        • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Mike Schilling
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          says:

          I wouldn’t suggest for a second that the NFL owners wouldn’t collude if they thought they needed to. The problem is inferring collusion from otherwise explainable parallel conduct. A handful of teams had no football-related use for Kaepernick because they were well-set at the QB position, both starter and back-up, or had the wrong style of play for his talents. Almost all the teams, maybe all of them, are owned by rich Republican assholes. None of them, acting purely individually, would take on Kaepernick and his baggage unless he was as good as, say, Aaron Rodgers, and maybe not even then. Collusion would be unnecessary.
          That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the owners colluded anyway.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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      says:

      One thing that I had forgotten was how deep we were into the concussion scandal at the time of these protests. These protests were used as one heck of a great distraction from the concussion thing.

      Do Black Lives Matter or do All Lives Matter? Vote here! (Pay no attention to the concussion reports coming out.)Report

  5. Steve Steve
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    says:

    When I was a kid in the mid 1970’s, we used to attend the Univ. Michigan home football games. At the time, there was a “black student section,” and most of those students didn’t stand for the National Anthem. When I asked my mother why, she said that they were “protesting the war, I guess,” which wasn’t a particularly satisfying answer since the war was over and no one else was sitting for the Anthem. I didn’t really think much about it again until recently with the Kaepernick controversy.
    I recall in one of the more difficult times of my life turning to patriotism and proudly putting my hand over my heart as the Anthem played, although that wasn’t that sustaining. It became difficult for me during the Iraq War, which I actively opposed, when sporting events were effectively being used for propaganda and felt like a turn from patriotism to nationalism, as did displaying a flag. I went to a few sporting events at the time and, rather than make a scene, snuck off to the concession stand during the Anthem. At the height of the War, I had moved to New Zealand and a friend there invited me to a Rugby match. I noticed that they didn’t play their National Anthem before the match and he seemed amused when I asked about it, although he then begrudgingly admitted that when he was a kid, they used to stand up before a movie started and sing God Save the Queen.
    I haven’t been to a game in a long time, and I am not sure what I would do about the Anthem, but I think at this point, rising for the Anthem would only be a way to avoid creating a scene, as I don’t really have positive associations with it, anymore.Report

  6. Avatar Kazzy
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    says:

    Eric Reid, FYI; not Read.Report

  7. Avatar Brandon Berg
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    says:

    I think there are two separate questions here:

    1. Was he actually right about black people being killed by police at rates disproportionate to the rate at which they commit crimes? The best evidence suggests no, but this is a totally understandable mistake given the grossly misleading media coverage of the topic. This was true at the time, and this is true now. The facts have not meaningfully changed, and no new evidence has come to light—activists and the media have just been pushing the narrative harder.

    2. Right or wrong, were people kind of jerks about it? Yeah, I think so. Entertainers aren’t chosen for their data analysis skills—they’re prone to this kind of thing. No need to get bent out of shape when one of them goes off on some misguided crusade. Just roll your eyes, do a quick air wank, and move on.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Brandon Berg
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      says:

      There are certainly some cultural insights from so many jumping to the least charitable interpretation possible of any dissent displayed during Pentagon funded recruiting displays spontaneous shows of patriotism at sporting events.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg
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      says:

      So there is an acceptable Killed-by-cop:crimes committed ratio?Report

      • Avatar KenB in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        The question Brandon is addressing is whether the observed disparate treatment of black people vs.white people by police is better explained by police racism or by socio-economic disparity (or some combination). It seems natural to assume that the incidence of people being killed by cops in a given area will be correlated with the level of crime in that area — so, whether or not the ratio is “acceptable”, if we see a consistent ratio regardless of the racial breakdown of a given area, that bit of evidence would point away from the explanation being due to police racism.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        Yes, of course. Apprehending criminals is inherently dangerous. Sometimes suspects violently resist arrest in a manner such that they cannot be apprehended safely, or are too dangerous to be allowed to escape alive. Furthermore, given that police officers are human, they sometimes make good-faith errors despite the best of intentions. These cannot be fully eliminated, and some level of erroneous killings of suspects by police officers must be accepted as a cost of taking dangerous criminals off the streets.

        Reducing the rate at which police officers kill suspects comes at a cost in the form of suspects killing more officers and/or escaping to do more harm to the public. There’s some optimal level at which the trade-off isn’t worth it.

        I don’t think we’re at that level yet, and I think there’s probably room to improve things via changes to rules of engagement and other procedural improvements. Procedural reforms are good! We should do those! What I object to specifically is:

        1. The gratuitous and evidence-free racialization of the issue. As I’ve explained in recent threads, the data just don’t back this up. Did you know that white men are fatally shot by police at 10x the rate (per capita!) that black women are? According to the WaPo database, 47 black women and 2305 white men have been fatally shot by police since 2015/01/01. That’s a ratio of 49, and there are only about 5 times as many white men as black women in the US.

        2. The demonization of individual police officers who make what appear to me to be good-faith errors (I do not include Chauvin in this group). I’m beginning to suspect that there’s a final cognitive development milestone that a lot of adults never reach. They hear about someone being killed by police. They hear that he was unarmed. They conclude, “That’s murder!” But they fail to apply theory of mind and take into account what the officer knew or had reason to believe at the time, and also the fact that said officer did not have the time to deliberate the issue at leisure. The question is not “Did the decedent deserve to die,” but “Taking into account the available information and limitations of the human mind, was the decision to shoot so egregiously wrong a priori that it warrants imprisonment for several years or longer?”

        The latter applies only to shootings, not to police brutality, in which it is entirely appropriate to demonize the individual officer. There’s no good-faith mistake you can make that leads to a sustained beating of a handcuffed suspect. We should definitely crack down harder on that.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to Brandon Berg
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          says:

          I actually agree with a lot of what you’re saying here. What I think you may be missing is how it got this way, which is the decades of botched SWAT raids, use of law enforcement to collect taxes, and petty violations of rights that for a huge number of socioeconomic and policy reasons are endlessly more visible and to some degree more prevalent in poorer, more urban, minority parts of the country. Unfortunately I think we’ve passed the place where we can get to the policy approach without the cops eating some serious crow. It’s not like we’re dealing with institutions with good reputations for accountability and professionalism. On the contrary, many of the misconceptions you’re talking about are driven by the whole ‘nothing to see here/you can’t expect us to be responsible for anything’ attitude from law enforcement, no matter how ridiculous the incident in question is.Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to InMD
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            says:

            To further illustrate try doing a thought experiment where George Floyd being killed wasn’t caught on camera. Say instead it was simply reported by bystanders. What do you think the chances are Chauvin would be subject to any sort of discipline right now, much less criminal charges? I’d say extremely low. It’s quite possible he’d already be cleared by some sham investigation process and back on the street, with the litany of usual excuses fed to Floyd’s relatives. That is if they even bothered to address it at all.

            This was the experience for years before everyone was walking around with the the ability to record video in their pocket. So yes, there are some misconceptions and I hope we don’t screw up the policy because of them. But those misperceptions are entirely the fault of the police.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to InMD
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              says:

              Derek Michael Chauvin, age 44, had been a police officer in the Minneapolis Police Department since 2001.[28][29] He had 18 complaints on his official record, two of which resulted in discipline including official letters of reprimand.[30] He had been involved in three police shootings, one of them fatal.[28][31][32] Chauvin was awarded medals of valor in 2006 and 2008 for incidents in which he fired at suspects, and in 2008 and 2009 received commendations for pursuing suspects.[33][34]

              (wiki)

              So… yet another complaint and yet another official letter of reprimand?Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Brandon Berg
          Ignored
          says:

          “Reducing the rate at which police officers kill suspects comes at a cost in the form of suspects killing more officers and/or escaping to do more harm to the public. There’s some optimal level at which the trade-off isn’t worth it.”

          Except that we don’t think that’s a trade-off, we do think that the optimal level of “police killing suspects” is either zero or so close to it that deaths are genuine accidents and not specific decisions by officers.

          There’s this weird thing in conversations with some people, where they’re like “welp, just gotta accept some deaths, no choice about it, people gon’ die, that’s gon’ happen, you just have to accept some deaths, you just have to accept some deaths.” Like they argue to constantly and loudly against the idea that It Doesn’t Need To Be That Way that you wonder whether maybe they want it to be that way.

          “They conclude, “That’s murder!” But they fail to apply theory of mind…”

          Theory of mind? Theory of mind. A cop draws down on a running purse-snatcher and puts two in his back, and your response to that is to bring up theory of mind.

          I got a theory for you, it’s the theory of “maybe we don’t want patrol forces to constantly have access to deadly weapons and dispensation to use them”.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DensityDuck
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            says:

            Except that we don’t think that’s a trade-off, we do think that the optimal level of “police killing suspects” is either zero or so close to it that deaths are genuine accidents and not specific decisions by officers.

            This is not realistic given what we expect the police to do, nor the rest of the culture(s).

            Locally we had an always-heavily-armed end of the world survivalist determined to go down with guns blazing. That wasn’t a problem until he started committing crimes and his relatives asked the police to enforce the law.

            We have the occasional school shooter and/or terrorist. We have suicide by cop. We have people who get high, attack the police and try to take their guns. Half of the white people killed by the police are mentally ill.

            It’s unclear how many people would still be alive in a world with reformed police, but that number isn’t all of them. It might not even be a quarter. We have roughly as many people die at the hands of the police as we have mass shooters.

            I support police reform. I also expect most of the inequality-dealing-with-law-enforcement problems still exist after we’re done because they have nothing to do with the cops.

            “maybe we don’t want patrol forces to constantly have access to deadly weapons and dispensation to use them”.

            So when the next school shooting happens, you’re cool with them mowing down people until they run out of bullets because we don’t want the police killing people?Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Dark Matter
              Ignored
              says:

              “This is not realistic given what we expect the police to do”

              maybe we shouldn’t expect beat patrolmen to do that.

              “we had an always-heavily-armed end of the world survivalist determined to go down with guns blazing.”

              if your threat model is John Fucking Rambo then you’re gonna need something more than a dude with a Glock to handle it.

              “We have suicide by cop. We have people who get high, attack the police and try to take their guns. ”

              These are not arguments that the police should have guns, sir, they’re arguments that they shouldn’t.

              “when the next school shooting happens, you’re cool with them mowing down people until they run out of bullets because we don’t want the police killing people?”

              lol

              what if there’s a bomb and the terrorist we captured is the only one who knows where it is and he refuses to talk?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Dark Matter: “we had an always-heavily-armed end of the world survivalist determined to go down with guns blazing.”

                DensityDuck: if your threat model is John Fucking Rambo then you’re gonna need something more than a dude with a Glock to handle it.

                Real world means no plot armor. This guy was gunned down by a few cops with handguns. I have no idea if that means “Glock”.

                There needs to be a way to deal with that situation other than assuming it won’t happen.

                Dark Matter: “when the next school shooting happens, you’re cool with them mowing down people until they run out of bullets because we don’t want the police killing people?”
                DensityDuck: what if there’s a bomb and the terrorist we captured is the only one who knows where it is and he refuses to talk?

                This isn’t a “what if” game. We have roughly as many mass shootings as we do police killings. They’re common enough that we’ll have more this year. Do you expect the police to step in or not?

                If not, then you’re making tradeoffs. If your plan is that mass murderers will be impressed by us disarming the police and will follow the law, then I don’t think that will work.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                I’ve been thinking about this a lot. First, cops very often don’t arrive in time to stop a mass shooting. Sometimes they do. In any event, yes, municipalities will need something like a “SWAT team” to deal with active shooter situations. Likewise, if a rogue motorcycle gang roars into town, hollering and shooting up the streets, yeah, something like SWAT will need to be called upon.

                However, SWAT aren’t “police,” not exactly. They’re something else. We conflate the roles of “armed defender” with “person who handles crime in the community,” which strikes me as a critical mistake.

                A lot of people ask, “Who will you go to if you’re raped?”

                Ha! As if the cops do anything now. But never mind that. Police don’t need armed, militant goons to investigate rape or burglary.

                “What about armed robbers?”

                How many armed robbers would there be if we had better drug treatment? What if we just gave them drugs?

                I mean that seriously. What if we gave them safe medical-grade drugs, along with housing and nurses to monitor them, etcetera? That’s fucking insane, right! The sane response is to increase their sense of marginalization, humiliation, and deprivation. Make sure they suffer, and then punish them with unchecked violence when they step out of line. That’s clearly the sane response.

                Obviously we’d rather each city field a squad of goons with the latest military technology, rather than pay for nurses and drugs. Clearly that’s better.

                What if, instead of meeting the armed robber with force, we instead talked to him, made it clear he wouldn’t be arrested or shot, that he didn’t actually need a gun, and that we would talk about why he felt the need to steal?

                That’s insane, right! There’s just no way we could do that! We need to meet force with force, and then lock him up in a place where he’ll be brutalized and also meet a bunch of white power folks to groom him. That’s a much better approach.

                Talking? Ha! As if you could ever talk to a person and try to meet their needs. Nonsense. Pure balderdash. Instead, we should dismiss them as an irredeemable thugs. In turn, we should license a gang of malcontents, to whom we both give guns and the color of law, and unleash them among the undesirable thugs. That will ensure “law and order.”

                Provided that the thugs we have armed respect the property and dignity of the privileged class, we will turn a blind eye toward how they treat the underclass. That’s the obvious solution to armed robbery. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

                We know that crime goes down as employment goes up. But sure, imprison people, demonize them, make them unemployable, then release them. That’ll work. Anything else would be insane.

                Watch videos of “traffic stops gone wrong.” How often is the victim some poor person who has a hard time navigating “the system” — and here comes “the system,” with a gun, barking orders, manhandling them, humiliating them, all while they were just trying to get to work in their beater car with a busted taillight — except you know that cops often lie about the taillight thing, which makes the humiliation even worse. Consider the level of capricious power deployed against someone who is already late with rent? So on that unfortunate day it’s too much, so they “resist” the cop, just as many of you would do if in similar circumstances! For that they get a beatdown, a felony arrest, further unemployability, all from a socially maladjusted lying bastard cop.

                That’s a perfect formula for safer streets.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Dark Matter
              Ignored
              says:

              So when the next school shooting happens, you’re cool with them mowing down people until they run out of bullets because we don’t want the police killing people?

              One of my biggest criticisms of the school shooting in Florida involved law enforcement on the scene being non-responsive and hiding until the shooter ran out of bullets.

              From what I understand, the official argument is that there is no “Duty To Protect” on the part of law enforcement. “No duty to protect? That’s nuts!”, I hear you say.

              I agree!

              But we got into all of that here and here.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Brandon Berg
      Ignored
      says:

      1. Was he actually right about black people being killed by police at rates disproportionate to the rate at which they commit crimes?

      Did Kaepernick ever suggest that black people were killed *more frequently* than white people? I don’t recall that topic ever coming up. Instead he protested the mere fact that unarmed black people were being killed by cops.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        The implication from that phrasing is that blacks are especially vulnerable to this because of their skin colour rather than than because of their socio-economic status.

        What do we need to do to fix this? Is it “end police racism”? Or is it more, “restructure the entire economic system”? I was listening to NPR and although the “experts” where using phrases that described the former, their solutions were the later.

        IMHO we will be doing very well if we just end Blue Privilege. That would mean Mr Knee is held accountable and the Floyds of the US get justice. It also means people like Mike Brown (of Ferguson) still end up dying on the streets in numbers activists consider shocking.Report

      • Avatar InMD in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        That’s a really interesting question and it made me look back. As best as I can tell the answer is no he never made that specific assertion.

        The more I look the more it seems like people really projected a lot onto him. Maybe I’m freestyling myself right out of the discussion but it makes me chuckle at the state of America. Like can we as a culture really not handle something so milquetoast? We have got to get out of our own heads.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to InMD
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          says:

          Honestly, Americans have never really been good with even the most minor criticism of the United States or any of its’ associated myths for the most part. We might say we believe in free speech, free press, and all that but lots of Americans get extraordinarily angry when people use said rights to criticism God, mom, apple pie, and the United States. Non-Americans might not necessarily be more left-leaning or pro-Communist but they seem better able to deal with a few radical intellectuals as oddball curiosities while Americans tended to go for the hammer smash whenever.Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    If you, like me, were idly wondering what we were saying at the time, there’s this from 2017 and this from 2018.Report

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