As we drive along the thoroughfare of history, heroes are clearly seen for their heroism as we leave them behind in the rear view mirror. In the context of the times in which they lived, however, they were seldom viewed with universal magnanimity.
Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand during the playing of the National Anthem at the beginning of football games is not only criticized, it is compared to the efforts of others and seen as inferior in purpose and appropriateness. Among the individuals mentioned is the iconic Reverend Doctor, Martin Luther King, Jr.
I am just old enough to remember how Dr. King was viewed in the context of the times in which he lived. During his lifetime, a number of people and institutions who now sing his praises and cite him as the standard of reason and acceptability, considered him a rabble rousing troublemaker who needed to be silenced. Their wish was granted and his demise was even celebrated at institutions I have since had the experience of attending. Even securing a holiday in his memory was a great point of national contention, with every shortcoming displayed during his life presented as "proof" that he was not "deserving" of a holiday in spite of the enormity of his work for good. Thankfully, his work spoke for itself and a remembrance was established, yet that recognition was no easy undertaking.
I am also old enough to remember when Nelson Mandela was viewed with great suspicion by many mainstream Americans. Those same Americans predicted the proliferation of chaos and mayhem should Mandela be elevated to power. The facts of history expose the ignorance of that perspective.
I am not claiming that Mt. Kaepernick is a King or Mandela. I am, however, pointing out that in the context of their times, these now iconic heroes were not viewed as benign, Santa-like Teddy Bears. Their views were seen as dangerous and disruptive and cost them their freedom and one, his life.
No matter how reasoned or peaceful, dissenting voices will be seen as a nuisance. It is part of the journey for those who dare to speak out and it is a hefty portion of the price of freedom...and it is not popular.