Sunday, August 28, 2016

Three Cheers for Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick. Tut Tut.
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

So Colin Kaepernick is the traitor now. Sports figures are not supposed to make statements about real life. They might upset people and those people don’t pay them money to have a point of view about the world around them. All of a sudden, billionaire media and sports capitalists care about the rank and file soldier, you know, the one they wouldn't want their daughter to marry.

The Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan says the: "Star-Spangled Banner was a way of paying tribute to America’s armed forces."  No it's not, it's a rousing song as all anthems are to pretend there are no class antagonism's in a nation state, were all American with the same interests, me and Warren Buffet. Why do you think those great marches were played as people walked toward each other in battle? Because a funeral dirge would not go down too well, got to keep their minds off the fact that they might be dead in a minute.

Their kids don't fight wars, ours do. In the US civil war, the most costly American war in terms of numbers, the rich paid a substitute fee and sent a working class guy in to battle as a replacement, more often than not an Irishman. Thousands of slaves fought for the North and then got Jim Crow in return.

Ryan also says: "the opportunity that we have to play a great game is through the men and women that serve our country,” What nonsense. How callously these mouthpieces of the status quo use the fate of the working class youth in the military as a means to strengthen their nationalism and draw us on to their team.  Watch The Tillman Story to get an idea of what the military brass thinks of the folks that do the fighting.

The working class and the struggle to build unions which could cost us our lives, the civil rights struggle for basic human rights against a brutal racist state, the centuries long war the Native Americans fought against genocide. This is history, this is what won us any freedoms we have from the most brutal of all the ruling classes. The Native American people at the Standing Rock Camp in N. Dakota are standing up against the state as I write, confronting the energy industry and the investors and bankers behind them, defending mother earth, their culture and ours. What do those that criticize Kaepernick have to say about that?  Do they know about it?  Probably not as the media focuses on this sports figure who dares make a statement about the society in which he lives, a system presided over by a racist anti-worker regime that cares nothing about human life or the natural world that feeds us.

What do they care about the young people they send out to fight their wars? Were Bush's kids in Afghanistan? Obama's? Paul Allen's Bill Gates if they have any? Was Chelsea Clinton on the front line? There's all the flag waving when they send them out and nothing but road blocks when they come back physically and mentally damaged. Most working class youth don't have as many options, unemployment, lack of opportunity, these are pluses for the military brass.

The reality is that the working class youth that fought in Afghanistan or anywhere else were not defending us and are not defending us, they are sent to defend the interests of US capitalism; they are fighting to defend profits of Halliburton, Chevron, WalMart and the parasitic clique that run them; they are being lied to and to tell the truth about that is not to disrespect them. If we support our troops then we demand an end to all the predatory wars and the return of our youth. We demand a massive public infrastructure program and training programs to offer youth a productive alternative to the military. We demand the abolition of all student debt. We demand decent housing, health care and an end to the killing of black males in particular by state security forces. We demand an end to mass incarceration of workers and our children. We demand jobs and housing as a human right.

Kaepernick’s statement is speaking to an issue that weighs like a great plague on a huge section of US society, on black Americans.  So many white people I know who have never uttered a word of concern about the epidemic of police murders of black people or even the attacks on white workers for that matter, find voice in condemning Kaepernick’s motives.  Who cares what his motives are. He is a national figure recognized by millions upon millions of youth and he is raising an important issue that should not be an issue in a civilized society; it should be talked about by more than just the victims and their kin. It should be talked about instead of what Kim Kardashian is wearing this week. Could he raise all the other issues affecting the rest of us, sexism, housing issues etc? Sure he could, and he should, but as a person of color this issue is closer to his heart as the oppression of women will be to a woman’s heart. It's a starting point.

The real issue is and what bothers the owners of the mass media is he is not doing his job which is to sell sneakers, cars, clothes and other commodities in order to make money for the rich folks that live off the rest of us. He is not supposed to be making any political statements at all giving young people bad ideas. Just talk about how great US society is. And mention Jesus a lot. Stephen Curry is a good fella, he even thanks god after every basket.  Kaepernick is breaking the rules.  Well, good on him; lets break some more.

The bosses in the sports industry are billionaires. Here’s a couple of them:

Paul Allen Seattle Seahawks: $15 billion
Malcolm Glazer  Tampa Bay $5 billion
Stephen Ross  Miami  $4.4 billion

The top ten football franchise owners could end poverty in Africa (and here in the US). 17 of 31 owners carry a ten-figure net worth according to Forbes. Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke, who is a multi-sports team owner is married in to another family of parasites, the WalMart clan. And Forbes actually calls them "self made men". As if they have ever done a decent days work.

The media drags out a few quotes from some of Kaepernicks backward white colleagues looking to keep in well with the bosses.  Tyler Polumbus a former Denver Broncos offensive tackle says the anthem was associated with “military that die for our right to protest”.

Well he’s wrong. The military has nothing to do with our right to protest. Our military has been used to expand US capitalism’s plunder abroad. Read War is a Racket by Smedley Butler a highly decorated US general. * The same as the British military.  Ask the Irish or Kenyans about the British military. Ask the Mexicans or Iraqi’s or Central Americans about ours. They hate to use the military to suppress strikes and domestic protest because they are the sons and daughters of workers, workers in uniform to be exact. They are not the same as cops and too vulnerable to turning the guns in the other direction.  It's easier to demonize foreigners as they have demonized blacks in the US over three centuries. But it was the degeneration of the US military that played a significant role in the defeat in Vietnam. Unless your a psychopath it's not easy to kill people who appear to be no threat at all to your nation. Any normal human being though will fire at someone firing at them.  See Sir No Sir for more on this
If he’d ever read labor history Polumbus would know that the military has been used to suppress protest not defend it the silly man.

*War is a Racket: Smedley Butler US marine Corp.

War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents. 


Jeff said...

This is a great take - we look at these "controversies" through our tiny window of RIGHT NOW, with all the current political labels and divisive definitions. There's a larger historical context to all of this, which you lay out in this piece. Peaceful protest is not a bad thing, it's everyone's right. We should respect it, whether we agree or not.

Sean said...

Thank you Colin Kaepernick. You remind me of one night back in Ireland. It was October 1968. The medals were being given out for I think it was the 200 metres at the Olympics. Tommy Smyth the gold medal winner and an African American stepped up on the podium, Peter Norman the white Australian and the silver medal winner followed and John Carlos an African America and the bronze medal winner followed. Then in a spectacular act of protest and defiance the two African Americans raised clenched fists in protest at the treatment of African Americans and working people in the US. They only had two gloves so the Australian Peter Norman wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge as his sign of solidarity. I will forever be in debt to these men as they inspired me to be a revolutionary. These men were driven out of job after job for their stand. Peter Norman was victimized to the extent he dies in alcoholism and depression. When he died his two African American comrades Tommy Smyth and John Carlos traveled to Australia and carried his coffin at his funeral. African American and white Australian unity. For the raised fist, for defiant opposition to racism and capitalism, for the unity of all who hold these views to "be self evident." Thank you Colin Kaepernick. For more Colin Kaepernicks. Sean O'Torain.