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Colin Kaepernick’s Intentions May Be Good, but is his Methodology Counterproductive?
Written by Andrew Brock | African-American Affairs Writer | Goombaytally.com | Contact us in the comment box | Share us on Facebook, Twitter
I love studying military history.
I especially enjoy reading through first-hand accounts of hard-fought battles that changed the course of a war. The Battle of Gettysburg, which helped advance the end to the Civil War. The intriguing Battle of the Bulge and D-Day during WWII. The impacts of the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War. To paraphrase strategic planners within the Department of Defense: plans are perfect right until they meet the point of execution.
Civil War history is full of stories describing Generals who made critical planning, logistical, navigational, or intelligence errors throughout the course of a battle and ultimately resulted in the engagement of the enemy at the wrong location, time, or level of preparedness. Mind you, these errors aren’t “always” operationally detrimental to the offensive or defensive army.
There are certainly accounts of military war planners or leaders making grave battlefield errors and inadvertently exposing a weakness within their adversary’s plan and consequently exploiting that weak point to their advantage. Obviously, these errors will inevitably expose even more of your weaknesses.
The point is, realistic military leaders understand that flexibility and adaptability is the key to modern warfare victory. They prepare their men and women to follow orders, but to also have the situational awareness and mental acuity to pivot during the execution phase if “Murphy” presents opposing variables that leave planning considerations non-relevant. All finished and polished plans look great neatly written on a whiteboard in the Pentagon. However, reality and the “Fog-o-War” has a way of dismantling the best made plans of Mice and Men.
Military battle plans must be designed with a specifically desired effect in mind. We destroy enemy ammunition plants to limit their resupply capacity. We target enemy aircraft sitting on airfields to neutralize their air defense capability … and so on. Some military strategic planners call these targets “centers of gravity” … because of their strategic impacts on the enemy’s war-fighting capabilities or strengths.
So the obvious question is: how do I make a coherent link between military strategy and San Fransisco 49ers’ quarterback, Colin Kaepernick who finds himself in the middle of a national debate surrounding his refusal to stand during the playing of the national anthem at the beginning of NFL games as a public protest of social injustice within the African-American community?
Here it is.
I believe Colin Kaepernick is the wrong field general, targeting the wrong battle objectives, on the wrong battlefield. Let me explain: as an African-American who “has been” racially profiled in the past, has been called the “N-Word” as a kid growing up in the South, and who has experienced overt and subtle discrimination in this country, I think Colin is still woefully off-point in his methodology … not necessarily his intent.
Colin says he is protesting White oppression and social injustice … but unfortunately, he’s targeting the wrong “centers of gravity” that drive the issues. Much like an F-16 that attempts to take out an enemy communication command and control facility, but hits the school house right next to it instead and kills 30 innocent children.
Say goodbye to your “winning hearts and minds” campaign.
I recently told a colleague at work that Kaepernick’s decision to protest social injustice by sitting out on the national anthem was tantamount to protesting corruption in the banking industry by standing out in front of your local Chipotle with a sign that says, “Free Willy.” The wrong objective, strategy, timing, message, and venue.
First, and ironically, on 7 September 2016, the City of Chicago reported its deadliest Holiday weekend as 13 people were killed and a total of 65 inured in gun violence. Unfortunately, the Labor Day Weekend shootings in Chicago bolstered its annual homicide number to 500. Mind you, last year’s total was 491. Invariably, by the time you read this article, that number will be dated and old news.
Let these numbers sink in for just a minute. Close your eyes even.
Any other international relations conversation held around countless water coolers and coffee pots across America would not hesitate to refer to a city that experiences similar levels of senseless crime and violence as a “War Zone.”
Yes, Chicago is a War Zone. Even film director Spike Lee concedes that point in his film Chi-Raq.
As a military veteran who’s served enough time in Afghanistan and listened to countless intel briefings, I’ve seen less kinetic activity over a weekend in the darkest, dirtiest, most dangerous corners of Helmand Province than we’ve seen at times in a cities like Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia. Chicago’s South Side — Englewood, Auburn Gresham, Chicago Lawn might as well be Kabul, Bagram, Kandahar, or Khost.
Chicago is a War Zone. Even film director Spike Lee concedes that point in his film Chi-Raq.
But here’s the intellectual conflict.
There is seemingly no national outcry or call for rigorous Congressional efforts to stop the genocidal-like violence that African-Americans experience in this country’s urban battlefields.
A sweet, beautiful, four-year-old African-American little girl … innocently playing with her “Frozen” doll in front of her house, gets shot and killed instantly by a gang member who’s aiming for her uncle sitting on the porch because he disrespected him in front of a hot girl in the local club on the previous night … and the streets of Chicago are quiet following that tragedy. Oh well … right? For a story … more tragic and disconcerting as any we’ve seen related to this year’s (relatively) few African-American and Police shooting incidents … there are no professional athletes taking a knee for this little girl during the singing of the national anthem. Why not? Didn’t she experience a grave social injustice?
Moreover, “Civil Rights” activists don’t compel substantive national debate about the true “root cause” of the issues within the African-American community.
No one is (really) asking why African-Americans across this nation have to be afraid to walk the streets at night or have an event-free barbecue cookout without gun violence breaking out. That’s chiefly because we already know the answer–don’t we?
The unspoken narrative: Violence against African-Americans at the hands of a White person rips open painful, deep-seated wounds and tragic historical images and memories from America’s shameful racial past.
Conversely, black-on-black crimes violence … though exponentially more prevalent and significantly more deadly to our communities … goes largely ignored on the national stage like a homeless man begging for spare change outside a Washington D.C. Metro station, or that bat-sh*t crazy uncle who everyone ignores at the family reunion. Because “Uncle Smitty” is only tolerated and accepted because he’s “family.” As painful and embarrassing as it may be.
Here’s the frustration: there is no one at the national level who is “genuinely” trying to connect the dots in a meaningful and effective way when it comes to problems in our community. Yes, that silence you hear in the distance is Al Sharpton, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Elijah Cummings, and so on.
No one dares associate our high unemployment rates, failing schools, corrupt local politicians, annihilation of the Black family unit, and our 70% children born out of wedlock rate with any of the problems that we currently have with law enforcement that athletes and others claim to be protesting right now.
Yes, bad cops need to be fired and or prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for their negligent or criminal acts. But to ignore and cover up equally detrimental factors that plague our community — especially when they occur with more frequency and cause considerably more collateral damage in our neighborhoods … is irresponsible and myopic.
Again, that’s “one in four” of our young men who don’t have a strong father figure in the household to mentor them on not instinctively fighting with or running away from law enforcement when you engage them. Better yet, a male figure to teach them how to lower their probability of even having to (negatively) engage law enforcement in the first place.
So here’s the predominant question behind the problems that most Americans see with Colin Kaepernick’s methodology in one carelessly crafted sentence:
Why is a gifted African-American athlete (millionaire) … who was lovingly adopted and cared for by White parents … protesting “White oppression” and social injustice by police officers in neighborhoods that he doesn’t have to live in, by targeting a flag that symbolizes the very nation that affords him incredible opportunities that the majority of us (regardless of race) only daydream about while driving back from our unspectacular jobs in I-95 congestion at the end of the day?
Here’s another one: As a blue-blooded, hard-working, middle class American, why am I paying $80 for your Football jersey and $300 in game tickets to watch you disrespect my father who came back from Vietnam with a Purple Heart and a 100% disability rating that irrevocably impacted our family in the 1970s.
Hopefully you get my point.
So, here’s how the San Fransisco 49ers’ quarterback, or Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, or anyone else who chooses to use their notoriety and fame to actually have a “positive” impact on the African-American/Police relation issue in our nation.
First, instead of disparaging the memories of White, Black, Native-American, Asian etc heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice to secure the future survival and prosperity of not only their families but ours, why not use your privileged to serve as a unifying nexus between our communities and our local law enforcement.
Hold community-building expedition games between local youth athletes and Police. Visit local elementary, middle, and high schools along with Police officers and talk about what they see on the streets and how the Police are trying to help in their communities. Talk about Police engagement and protocols.
Visit local elementary, middle, and high schools along with Police officers …
These tactics have a unifying effect that builds relations … not further posture communities against law enforcement. Help reinforce the concept of community Policing. A community that refuses to “snitch” on the very terrorists that plague their neighborhoods will live in their violent cycles indefinitely.
Additionally, we all know that in this country, professional sports serve as a unifying force that will see an African-American Dallas Cowboy fan slapping high-fives and hugging another Cowboy fan of any race after their team scores a game-deciding touchdown or make an interception. For three hours and 12 minutes, the color of ones jersey transcends the color of your skin, religious affiliation, or political opinions.
Use that power for good.
Instead of further fracturing and polarizing a nation, use your privilege and access to heal it. At that point, Colin will become the right leader, with the right objectives, on the right battlefield. Then we can all watch the positive change in our country instead of watching enraged 49ers fans burning Kaepernick jerseys on You Tube.
Written by Andrew Brock | Goombaytally.com | Share us on Facebook or Twitter | Write a comment if you loved it | Write a comment if you hated it.