Kaepernick, Spaghetti O’s, and False Outrage over the American Flag

9/7/2016 by Dylan James Harper

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Alright, this will be the last article on Kaepernick (unless there’s some radical new development). I think the reason the backlash to his choice to not stand during the National Anthem is that it just feels so disingenuous. People have talked at length about how sacred the flag is, and what it represents so many ideals, and how it hurts the troops to disrespect it in any way.

Where were any of you when this happened?

Look at it. Bask in it. It’s a Spaghetti O holding the flag to commemorate Pearl Harbor. I had to read four different articles on this just to make sure it was real. It’s a poorly photoshopped Spaghetti O (why is the middle white? Why can’t we see through it?), holding the flag.

Shockingly, some people did complain about this, although to a much lesser degree (the police didn’t refuse to come deal with crime at the Spaghetti O factory, certainly), but the point isn’t this one picture. Go to YouTube and Google your any mainstream brand and then throw in one of your favorite buzzwords that Kaepernick is some disrespecting, and then add the word commercial at the end. There are commercials capitalizing on the flag, veterans, 9/11, you name it. The very best is that Budweiser commercial where the clydesdales kneel looking over Ground Zero. Watch it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-_qRS4Li7A) and tell me with a straight face you didn’t cringe when the Budweiser logo came up.

Remember Boston Strong? The informal slogan for the people of New England after the Boston Marathon Bombing? Less than a week after the phrase had made the social media rounds merchandise was already being sold by big name brands. Go Google it, you can still buy some. Soon after that, during a Boston vs. Toronto game, a Toronto fan held up a sign that read “Toronto Strong” and people were outraged. How dare he appropriate a slogan that some local seafood company had already slapped on a commercial?

Do you know why so many brands capitalize on topics like 9/11 or the military in their branding? Because everyone knows what they are. They’re capitalizing on the likelihood that most of their potential customers know what veterans are, and what 9/11 was, and recognize the American Flag, and hold positive feelings about all those things. People are totally fine with companies utilizing these things that everyone claims ought to be held in the highest regard to sell them a beer, or a truck, or a pizza, but loses it when someone utilizes one of those topics to voice even the slightest bit of dissent.

You can’t be fine with Spaghetti O’s, or Budweiser, or your local car dealership capitalizing on the flag, but claim someone not standing up for it is somehow disrespectful. The flag holds as much value as you grant it, and if that value isn’t something that’s been robbed by endless commercialization (and clearly it hasn’t given the level of backlash), then clearly it isn’t going to be robbed by an athlete using it to stage a protest.

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