Colin Kaepernick Day Five has now turned officially into a remote episode of Crazytown. Which, knowing our new bat-loony American landscape, is probably how this was meant to go.
Now, though, through the auspices of former NFL player and NBC analyst Rodney Harrison, we all get to play an exciting new parlor game, a half-drunken version of Cards Against Humanity in which every question is Kaepernick himself.
And the new question is, “How Black Is Colin Kaepernick?”
And no, you didn’t see it coming.
Oh, we’ve all run and danced gleefully with “Is Colin Kaepernick A Qualified Social Critic?” and “Is Colin Kaepernick A Competent Quarterback?” and “Is Colin Kaepernick A Loyal American Citizen?” and “Is Colin Kaepernick Too Rich To Complain?” and “Is Colin Kaepernick Qualified To Be A Police Critic?” and “Is Colin Kaepernick Still Employed? and as of 1 p.m., "Is Colin Kaepernick In Desperate Need Of A Cheeseburger?”
But until Harrison decided to make the point that Kaepernick isn’t qualified to talk about black issues under his mistaken assumption that Kaepernick had no black heritage and therefore his formative experiences were not sufficiently oppressive to qualify, nobody really questioned his racial credentials.
Harrison has since apologized with some profusion on Twitter after the sirens of social media seared him at the edges, and it would be needless piling on to be the one to put the 493rd and 494th boots into his rib cage.
But Harrison isn’t the point here anyway. It’s how a simple sedentary statement became a five-ring pie fight in less than a week. Colin Kaepernick has gone from ignored protester to the new face of American protest to a person of debatable ethnicity. What next, “Is Colin Kaepernick A Human?” “Is Colin Kaepernick A Hologram?” “Is Colin Kaepernick An Earthling?” “Is Colin Kaepernick A Three-Dimensional Life Structure?” “Is Colin Kaepernick A Carbon-Based Life Form?” and “Is There Really A Colin Kaepernick At All, Or Have We Just Made Him Up To Have An Internet-Quality Screaming Match With Everyone Else?”
This, in short, is a level of bizarre that a sixty-foot sculpture atop a mountain that reads simply “HAVE WE ALL GONE MAD?” in neon Old English letters cannot begin to convey.
We have now taken the nation into a giant room and asked not about police tactics or social inequities or justice vs. peace or activism vs. fair comment, but to debate the very essence of Colin Kaepernick – who once not so long ago was the backup quarterback on a lower-level National Football League team.
You want Crazytown? This is Crazytown Heights.
It has been clear for some time that most debate in America goes from Postulate to Rebuttal to Ad Hominem Attack to Fist In Face in pretty quick order. It’s how we as a collective became the smartest and stupidest culture on earth at the same time.
But we had stayed away from things like the very nature of social existence, leaving that to the Morgan Freeman/Through The Wormhole/Science Channel Unchanged segment of the population.
But now here it is – a man who sat for the national anthem three times before anyone noticed, and only then because he was wearing a gaudy football suit at the time, explained why he did it, thus creating this rhetorical vortex:
“He has every right to say it and we defend his right to do so even though he should just shut up because he’s a crap quarterback and makes too much money to be bitching and he shouldn’t have said it while sitting down and he shouldn’t be mean to a symbol while wearing a symbol during a song that is essentially a symbol and how dare he slander the law enforcement and cosmetology industries and what does he know anyway he desperately needs a brisket but yeah he has the right to say it even though all that there.”
That should have been plenty. But now the added twist, “And besides, he may be insufficiently ethnic,” adds three more days to the news cycle and more fodder for the chattering nitwit class, a new level of fevered shrieking about who is qualified to be anything, and makes his future as a football player an almost completely ancillary point.
And Kaepernick says he knew what he was in store for when he chose his action. He didn’t know this. Not a chance.
So the lesson for us all? Never assume we as a culture can’t find new levels of clinical insanity when we put our minds to it. We not only have the means, the motive and opportunity, we have the imaginations to take this anywhere we want to go.
Me, I’m starting a discussion on the topic, “Is Colin Kaepernick A Time-And-Shape-Shifting Emissary From An Alternate Universe?” or in the alternative, “Is Colin Kaepernick Using Us All As A Gigantic Psychological Masters Thesis?”
If the first one is yes, cool. If the second is yes, we all probably have it coming, just for living here and now, before our galactic overlords take control and turn this into a gigantic petting zoo.