When the Counterculture Becomes the Culture


In November 2015, three years after taking the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl, quarterback Colin Kaepernick was benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert, a career journeyman most recently unsuccessful with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The following preseason, Kaepernick began donning garb designed to mock police officers, including socks with cops dressed as pigs. He also remained seated for the national anthem during a preseason game, claiming, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

At the time, multiple NFL players spoke out in opposition to Kaepernick’s symbolic move: New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz said, “You’ve got to respect the flag, and you’ve got to stand up with your teammates. It’s bigger than just you, in my opinion. You go up there; you’re with a team; and you go and pledge your allegiance to the flag, and sing the national anthem with your team, and then you go about your business.” At the time, this was a majority proposition: Seventy-two percent of Americans thought the gesture unpatriotic, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Kaepernick never regained a starting role in the NFL … but his career took off again. He signed a lucrative endorsement deal with Nike to cash in on his supposed bravery; he cut a content deal with Disney. When he was offered a private tryout with NFL teams, he promptly violated all protocols and blew up the process. In June 2020, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell urged NFL teams to sign Kaepernick anyway. On July 4, Kaepernick tweeted: “Black ppl have been dehumanized, brutalized, criminalized + terrorized by America for centuries, & are expected to join your commemoration of ‘independence,’ while you enslaved our ancestors. We reject your celebration of white supremacy & look forward to liberation for all.”

 

Today, Kaepernick's symbolism has become the new normal, morphed into a rote ritual of wokeness thanks to the ugly sight of then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, who would later die.

Democratic elected officials knelt in the halls of Congress. Major League Baseball players knelt before the national anthem to protest supposed systemic American racism. NBA players knelt as well, wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts.

And players who refused to comply were publicly cudgeled. When San Francisco Giants pitcher Sam Coonrod refused to kneel, stating that he would not kneel for anything but God, he was castigated as benighted at best, racist at worst. When black Orlando Magic basketball player Jonathan Isaacs stood for the national anthem, again citing the unifying anti-racism of Christianity, he was ripped as "dangerous." Only Gregg Popovich, coach of the San Antonio Spurs, who has spent years utilizing purple progressive language about President Donald Trump, was exonerated for standing for the anthem -- and that was because he wore a Black Lives Matter T-shirt.

So, what changed? Certainly not the data. Despite the presence of individual racism in American life in all walks of life, America's police are not systemically racist. Until the pandemic wrecked the economy across the board, black Americans were experiencing historic lows in unemployment and historic highs in median income. What changed is that Americans surrendered to the narrative promulgated for so long by those who seek to undermine American comity: that American history is not the story of moving toward the fulfillment of the promises of the Declaration of Independence but of the continuous, chameleonic perversion of bigotry; that America's founding ideas were lies, then and always; that only racial identity provides credence for talking about racial inequalities.

The burden of proof has shifted to America's defenders.

And those defenders can never prove their case: first, because no country is perfect, and second, because systemic racism is a non-disprovable theory. Four short years ago, we mostly assumed the best of our fellow Americans -- that they weren't endemically racist, at the very least -- and the best of our country's ideals.

No longer. The counterculture has become the culture. And that is both a tragedy and a travesty. There can be no future for a country in which standing for the national anthem is considered gauche, while kneeling is considered heroic.

Ben Shapiro, 36, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of "The Ben Shapiro Show" and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com. He is the author of the No. 1 New York Times bestseller "The Right Side of History." He lives with his wife and three children in Los Angeles. 

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20 thoughts on “When the Counterculture Becomes the Culture”

  1. Look, I love football, but when the choice is professional football or my flag the my flag wins every time. I will not attend or watch this garbage on tv so long as these petty millionaires disrespect my flag. They should be taking a knee, but to thank the Good Lord for all they have, including this great country and the flag that symbolizes it.

    Chuck Nix
    Master Sergeant, US Army Retired

    1. I wholeheartedly agree. I served my country in Vietnam. My dad served during WWII as did my grandfather in WWI. Both suffered. My dad was disabled because of his wounds from fighting in Italy while my grandfather died an early death from respiratory illness acquired in the muddy trenches of France. Neither I nor my father and grandfather ever achieved the wealth that these athletes enjoy. We struggled as most average working class Americans do. I find it hard to support a group of privileged anti-Americans who know little of self sacrifice. None of them understand nor care about the sacrifices made by out military troops, police officers and first responders. Taking a knee is a slap in the face to all who have given their lives or health in service to these ingrates. Sports and Hollywood needs us, we don’t need them.

    2. Amen!
      If those that DEMAND respect and have not EARNED respect and don’t like our country move to Iran, Russia, China, Somalia and take those funding the anarchy with you. And don’t forget take Pelosi with you.
      People will accept changes made in a positive manner.

  2. These idiots like Kaepernick and the terrorists running loose in our streets aren’t fit to walk my dog, let alone consider themselves Americans…their arrogance and utter hypocrisy knows no bounds, and they are certainly not heroes….they will never get anything from me but my utter contempt!

  3. Engineered, Anti-American insanity is NOT ‘counter culture’! It’s FAKE! It’s THEATER! It’s BOUGHT & PAID FOR!! ‘Modern’ American Culture has always been manufactured! Made up and engineered by ‘think tanks’. But people are too stupid to realize/understand that fact (take ‘Pop Culture’, for example; sports is another; ‘Entertainment’, as a whole). FAKE Culture, through the decades, was created to DISTRACT Americans from their REAL Culture! Engage in stupid nonsense so that you don’t know what is REALLY going on (aka REALITY)!! For REAL American Culture, you’d have to go back 150-200 years! Sports, Pop music, modern art, TV, Fads, ect…..ALL CREATED to DUMB YOU DOWN! And it WORKED!

  4. When the fans don’t show up, the sports teams should go broke. I encourage everyone to stop watching them on TV as well.

  5. This vial woke blm movement is the most evil form of racism! Uneducable blacks , whites and Women rarely are Relevant to anyone but their own self worth! The notion anyone can demand equal treatment is a result of time outs and everyone gets a trophy! NO one is entitled to anything including being treated equal! Everyone must earn respect and equality.
    Think about it!
    If we were to treat these vial treasonous scum currently calling themselves the woke movement, blm, Antifa and METOO movements what actions would we need to take to treat.them equal based on their current actions?
    Equal treatment would need to be
    Murder them
    Destroy their homes and businesses
    Not allow their cause to be presented in the media without censorship
    Utilize our government to accuse and in trap them to silence their cause
    Try and impeach their politicians who support their cause
    Call them liars
    Commit crimes and accuse them of the crime
    No one can say that would not be treating them equally!
    Can you?
    This vial movement comes when children are not taught consequences for their actions!
    It’s time for Americans and America to treat these treasonous malcontents equally!!!!!
    Jail them all for this treasonous coup
    Remove their cancer from our schools
    Show them what America does to their enemies
    Erase them from existence
    For America is no place for malcontents and communists
    America is a place for freedom
    America is a place for unity
    America is a place where are children can play safely
    Anyone here in America who supports this woke trash are complicit to all their murderous crimes and should be jailed as well!
    For they are nothing more than Satan’s piss!

  6. Any time they want to leave the country the door is open
    I will throw my t v out the window before I will stop
    To watch any game they are playing and if all America
    Does this they will have to get a real job most of thes
    Jerks have taken to many hits to the head so I might
    Go see them if they play with no safety equipment o

  7. What these nitwits are attempting to do is rerace are history and create a new america that totally suites their fancy, these idiots minds are completely corrupted filled with sin, they must be stopped and, we must restore parents GOD GIVEN RIGHT to discipline their children that are OUT OF CONTROL or it will continue to get worse.

  8. Yes Fred; vote with your dollars and time. It may work unless the big money behind the socialist’s, anarchist movements can withstand the losses. Advertisers will notice the drop off in ratings and will consider changing their advertisement programing to be more supportive of our American Traditions. We can try. I am with you.

  9. I stand up for the flag. I kneel for a prayer. The liberals have twisted the kneeling as a positive influence and that’s ashamed.

  10. Sport should be sport, not used as a political platform! I am done with sports.
    Banners gone.
    Coffee mugs gone.
    Poster gone.
    Bumper sticker gone.
    Tickets sold.

    BLM was birthed and grown as a Marxist ideology.
    I am done and gone.

  11. Time to cut the flow of money to the socialist butt heads no money if you kneel owners get some balls cut their money off. There will be hell to pay now.

  12. TRUE AMERICANS LOVE THEIR COUNTRY AND THEIR FLAG THUS STANDING WITH THE RIGHT ARM ACROSS THE HEART SHOWS THEY ARE PROUD TO BE LIVING IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. ONE COUNTRY UNDER GOD! FOR THAT ALL SHOULD BE PROUD TO LIVE HERE
    .
    ISSUES ON RACE AND POLICE AND OTHER ISSUES IS A DIFFERENT PROBLEM TO BE DEALT WITH. IT SHOULD NOT BE ASSOCIATED WITH THE FLAG. IF THE DON’T LIKE THE COUNTRY THEN MOVE TO ANOTHER PLACE LIKE COLUMBIA OR RUSSIA WHERE THERE IS NO FREEDOM AS WE HAVE HERE!

  13. What is Wall Street’s take on the current situation? I’ve never heard any opinions from the professional money makers – and money is the source of all evil.

  14. kAPEN-ASS AND ALL THE FRIGGEN OTHERS KNELLING AGAINST OUR FLAG CAN KISS MY PETUNYA . HIM AND ALL THE REST HAVE RUINED THE GAME, MAYBE WHEN THE OWNERS HAVE TO DIG IN THEIR POCKETS BECAUSE A HELL OF A LOT OF US WILL NOT “GO OR WATCH ON THE BLOOP TUBE” AND THE $$$ IS NOT THERE – AND THE KNEELING CROWD ARE GETTING CUT OFF THE TEAM OR GETTING “LIGHT $$” FOR PLAYING TO LIGHTER FANS, THE SHIT WILL STOP. UNTIL THEN, UP THEIRS WHEN KNEELING I AND A LOT OF MY FRIENDS FEEL THE SAME !!!
    TAPS ON THIS SEASON ANYHOW — THEY WILL ALL BE SICK AND CANCELLED !!

  15. Why is this happening? Because a corrupt government breeds a corrupt society. Why have people been allowed to cover their faces and then riot and burn and destroy cities and public and private property? Because the gov’t allows it – the Justice Dept, which is probably the most corrupt of all the gov’t agencies — does not uphold the law, so the corruption travels down to the local authorities who tell the police to stand down, or actively attack them and threaten to defund them. This is why our founders focused on the idea of limited government and this is why we should have had term limits over half a century ago and this is why term limits should have been decided by a national referendum instead of expecting corrupt Congress to police themselves. Is it too late now? Well, the only way to get rid of a corrupt Congress is to vote them out – there is no Constitutional authority for any person or agency to dissolve or disband Congress. I guess the founders never dreamed that our voting process would be so corrupted either, or they would not have left that as the only avenue to be rid of criminal congressional members, or even just the ones that are lazy and feckless.

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