Colin Kaepernick decided to inject himself into an ever-controversial conversation by sitting for the national anthem during the Aug. 26 preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” said Kaepernick, according to NFL Media. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
I’ve proudly served my country, the United States of America, in a relatively quiet enlistment in the U.S. Army. I remain, however, deliberately unmoved or otherwise “not-offended” by Kaepernick’s disrespect, most importantly because the First Amendment deserves vigorous defense, and also because the idea of “mandatory patriotism” unnerves even me.
It’s important to be aware of a logical fallacy/political tactic called “kafkatrapping” which I first heard of from Wendy McElroy:
The term “kafkatrapping” describes a logical fallacy that is popular within gender feminism, racial politics and other ideologies of victimhood. It occurs when you are accused of a thought crime such as sexism, racism or homophobia. You respond with an honest denial, which is then used as further confirmation of your guilt. You are now trapped in a circular and unfalsifiable argument; no one who is accused can be innocent because the structure of kafkatrapping precludes that possibility.
This will almost certainly sound at least somewhat familiar to conservatives, libertarians, and even more moderate liberals like myself who have ever run afoul of the latest authoritarian left-wing shibboleths.
It is reminiscent of an anecdote (possibly apocryphal) which involves President Lyndon B. Johnson. As the story goes, Johnson spread rumors that a campaign opponent of his was a “pig-f***er.” When reportedly confronted about this by someone within his campaign, the story usually goes that he more or less told a campaign aide that he didn’t care if it was true or not, because he just wanted “to see the son of a b***h deny it.”
Kaepernick’s act of protest likely makes more sense to one who believes the United States is in 2016 morally indistinguishable from slavery, the American South during the Jim Crow era, or apartheid South Africa.
If you don’t agree with why Kaepernick sat, or any of the accompanying political baggage, it’s prudent to understand that whatever your politics are, the kind of people who reflexively side with Kaepernick are going to call you a racist/sexist/bigot/homophobe no matter what you say, what you really mean, or whether it’s good or evil which rests in your heart.
They’ll do it with the flimsiest of evidence, if any at all. But as with the Johnson anecdote, even honest denials are treated as further evidence of one’s bigotry.
Such traps aren’t always avoidable, but it’s still helpful to understand how some of them work in order to cope with the fallout.
It’s well worth a listen in it’s entirety, but when discussing “white privilege”, a term largely deployed to paint even the dirt-poorest coal miners in West Virginia as the apotheosis of evil in the world, Shapiro mentions this as a marquee political tactic used by the identitarian left to intimidate targets into silence or submission.
His advice is to let such smears roll off the back in hopes to deny people who are entirely too loose with accusations of bigotry a staple in how they approach political discourse.
There are still substantive issues surrounding race in the U.S. which are obscured by people who, with all apparent sincerity and conviction, lodge the most ludicrous complaints, such as the claim that eating certain types of food is racist.
Productive conversations about racial issues are impossible so long as a boilerplate political tactic such as mindlessly smearing people as bigots over genuine political disagreements remains an acceptable method of discourse by the noisiest voices in politics.
Until that changes remember that it is sometimes beneficial to fly under the radar. Never, though, should one back down from their own moral convictions in the face of baseless claims.