Do not make a business of what is no business. As some make gossip out of everything, so others
business. They always talk big, take everything in earnest, and turn it into a dispute or a secret.
Troublesome things must not be taken too seriously if they can be avoided. It is preposterous to take
to heart that which you should throw over your shoulders. Much that would be something has become
nothing by being left alone, and what was nothing has become of consequence by being made
much of. At the outset things can be easily settled, but not afterwards. Often the remedy causes the
Much business has certainly been made of San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to remain seated while everyone else snapped to standing attention at Levi Stadium for the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner. Kaepernick defended his defiance by stating, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Kaepernick’s defiance elicited much more commentary than the 49ers/Packers game the defiance preceded.
Of course, Kaepernick wanted attention, and attention he got. Every metropolitan newspaper had at least one columnist, along with a surfeit of op-ed scribblers, opining on what was really a trifle; every radio sports talk show, most hosted by a duo of former jocks, debated Kaepernick. Rare was the commentator with no commentary, and that’s unfortunate.
I’ll confess that I’m annoyed by perfunctory, affected displays, patriotic or otherwise. These displays are really de facto mandatory, responses to social pressure exerted from the crowd, which few people can withstand: Standing and placing the right hand over the heart for the Pledge of Allegiance in government schools or standing and removing your hat for the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner (or God Bless America) are two of the more common displays. The response is more Pavlovian than anything.
On the other hand, I’m rarely annoyed if someone acts contrary to the crowd, whether it be Kaepernick remaining seated or a sporting-event attendee refusing to remove his cap during singing of the Star-Spangled Banner. Why should anyone care? What business is it of mine, or anyone else's, if someone acts and those actions fail to trespass against my person or property? Are we so delicate of disposition that the nation crumbles under individuality?
If you have confidence in yourself, your believes, and your grasp of logic, there's little that should offend you. If only your sensibilities are offended, that’s your problem. If I were to act when my sensibilities were offended, I would surely apply a remedy that would create a disease – namely, a fistfight -- much worse than the remedy. My sensibilities are rarely offended, regardless how stupid I believe an antagonist's logic to be.
Unfortunately, many people make other people’s sensibilities their sensibilities. In Kaepernick’s case, the busybody camps are split between those expressing solidarity with Kaepernick, namely blacks and liberal whites, and those expressing contempt, mostly conservative whites. Both camps have elevated something from nothing. By elevating something from nothing, they reveal their biases and prejudices. They conjure remedies where none are needed. Worse, they conjure remedies guaranteed to create disease.
I say this because even upon cursory pondering, no one can logically conclude that Kaepernick's disease exists. Systemic “oppression” of black people and people of “color” in the United States is a fiction; a red herring used to divert attention from individual deficits. Therefore, Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner is nothing. Give him plenty of room to emote and to assume an affection, if he so desires, because that's all he is doing with his "fight oppression" campaign.
Oppression, when it exists in modern Western culture, is endogenous, rarely exogenous. For all the United States’ faults in government and legislation, the culture is still, fortunately, underpinned by Bourgeois values. These values sanctify work, thrift, contract, entrepreneurship, property rights, and performance. To oppress anyone willing to embrace Bourgeois values is an impossibility in 21st-century America. But to expect to succeed without embracing these values is Utopian omphaloskepsis. Layabouts, profligates, schemers, thieves, and bunglers will always fail. They need look only to the mirror to identify their oppressor.
Had everyone ignored Kaepernick, nothing would have become of his defiance against nothing. But as so often occurs, people are unwilling or unable to leave nothing alone. Instead, they embrace nothingness, and in doing so, they conjure remedies guaranteed to create diseases where none exist.