FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Colin Kaepernick and the Death of American Democracy

by

Mike Morbeck - CC BY-SA 4.0

Mike Morbeck – CC BY-SA 4.0

The frog of American democracy is no longer boiling, it’s dead.   How do I know?  By observing the public response to the actions undertaken during the last week by San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.

That a certain sector of our country gets upset at the slightest criticism of policemen and/or the military is nothing new.  Uniform worship has a long history in this country, especially in the years since World War II when our government decided to dispense with any pretense of preferring democratic republicanism to empire, and as an integral part of that transformation, launched a consensus-management program designed to normalize and exalt the virtues of ceding individual prerogative to the always “responsible” and “benevolent” men in blue and green.

But even during the darkest moments of this post-war period, there was almost always been a sizable group of people, on both the left and the right, who resisted the hierarchical logic of this uniform-worship because they understood that it is, and always will be, absolutely incompatible with both the day-to-day dignity of the citizenry and that same citizenry’s pursuit of real democracy.

But this no longer seems to be the case. Sure, there have been numerous people who have voiced support for Kaepernick’s right to do what he has done and right to say what he has said.

But almost every one the defenses I have heard or read in the mainstream media has been accompanied by long qualifications designed to insure that no one ever be able to question the Kaepernick defender’s deep and abiding respect and veneration for all that our “heroes in uniform” do on our behalf.

It is, like so many—sadly, mostly liberal—position-takings in our time, a weaselly pose.  It is designed to let the would-be defender of the athlete appear principled without having to confront the structural issues posed to our civic culture by the presence of a heavily-armed caste of uniformed people who, if we are to judge by the statement’s made by their official spokespeople, clearly believe that they live in a very separate ethical and moral universe than the rest of us.

Take, for example, the recent letter from San Francisco Police Officers Association leader, Martin Halloran to San Francisco 49ers President, Jed York,  and NFL commissioner,  Roger Goodell,  demanding that they apologize to the many police officers Kaepernick has “disrespected”.

Mr. Halloran and the people and the people he represents are, as they have ceaselessly reminded us over the last 15 years, public servants. This means that they work for us, and are, in the final analysis, subject to our discipline, and if we view it as warranted, our censure, as often as we care to dish it out.

Mr. Halloran, no doubt emboldened by the concerted post 9-11 propaganda effort to glorify all thing having to do with the military and the police, has turned this core democratic logic on its head.  Like a medieval lord, convinced of his superior status before God, he demands that the non-gun-toting subjects of his realm kneel before him in praise, and should one of these minions ever slip up and voice criticism of the always impollute actions of the lord and his chosen vassals, that this reprobate rapidly demand forgiveness from the masters.

This is bullying, pure and simple.

The big problem is not that it exists. To paraphrase the great teacher from Galilee, “the bullies, you will always have with you”. What ultimately matters is how the great mass of the population, especially its more secure and comfortable sectors, chooses to respond to the outrageous antics of such people.

The results so far are not encouraging. We have a probable majority of the country in favor of punishing and/or silencing Kaepernick. Beside them, is a smaller but sill sizable group that supports his technical right to speak out, but either feel he probably should not have criticized the blue lords so directly, or, worse yet, support his criticism, but are afraid to say this in a forthright and unambiguous manner.

The great Italian essayist Indro Montanelli once said that to have a functioning democracy, you must first have democrats. Being a small-d democrat implies many things. Perhaps the most basic of these is to understand, and to firmly believe, that no person or group of persons, especially those working explicitly in the public trust, are fundamentally more worthy than others.

Be it as a result of fear, or our government-media complex’s long campaign of pro-authoritarian propaganda, it seems, sadly, that only a small minority of Americans still understand this fundamental trait of the democratic mind.

More articles by:

Thomas S. Harrington is a professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of the recently released  Livin’ la Vida Barroca: American Culture in a Time of Imperial Orthodoxies.

Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
Tommy Raskin
Syrian Quicksand
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Still Tries to Push Dangerous Drug Class
Jill Richardson
The Attorney General Thinks Aspirin Helps Severe Pain – He’s Wrong
Mike Miller
Herb March: a Legend Deserved
Ann Garrison
If the Democrats Were Decent
Renee Parsons
The Times, They are a-Changing
Howard Gregory
The Democrats Must Campaign to End Trickle-Down Economics
Sean Keller
Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
Ron Jacobs
Re-Visiting Gonzo
Eileen Appelbaum
Rapid Job Growth, More Education Fail to Translate into Higher Wages for Health Care Workers
Ralph Nader
Shernoff, Bidart, and Echeverria—Wide-Ranging Lawyers for the People
Chris Zinda
The Meaning of Virginia Park
Robert Koehler
War and Poverty: A Compromise with Hell
Mike Bader – Mike Garrity
Senator Tester Must Stop Playing Politics With Public Lands
Kenneth Culton
No Time for Olympic Inspired Nationalism
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Final Days of the Regime
Irene Tung – Teófilo Reyes
Tips are for Servers Not CEOs
Randy Shields
Yahoomans in Paradise – This is L.A. to Me
Thomas Knapp
No Huawei! US Spy Chiefs Reverse Course on Phone Spying
Mel Gurtov
Was There Really a Breakthrough in US-North Korea Relations?
David Swanson
Witness Out of Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
George Brandis, the Rule of Law and Populism
Dean Baker
The Washington Post’s Long-Running Attack on Unions
Andrew Stewart
Providence Public School Teachers Fight Back at City Hall
Stephen Cooper
Majestic Meditations with Jesse Royal: the Interview
David Yearsley
Olympic Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail