Mike Ditka diss of Colin Kaepernick a fumbled snap from a familiar divisive playbook

Pro Bowl

Mike Ditka had a mouthful for Colin Kaepernick. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Every day it seems a different public figure makes the news for commenting on Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem before National Football League games.

Today it’s Mike Ditka, hall of fame tight end and former 10+ year head coach of Chicago Bears who lead the team to its last championship in Super Bowl XX.

Ditka is known as “Da Coach” in Chicago, and is beloved in a metropolitan area where he operates three popular local steakhouses bearing his name.

Forgotten locally is how Ditka eventually flamed out in Chicago as a coach and his strange tenure in New Orleans that saw him don a racially questionable faux braids/dreadlocks wig upon signing former troubled runningback Ricky Williams to the Saints.

Outside of Chicago, Ditka is known for symbolizing certain stereotypes about the city’s obsessed sports culture, food, regional accent and being a straight shooter as a former football analyst for ESPN.

The “straight shooter” label associated with Ditka extends to his opinions on politics and social issues.

Ditka once called President Barack Obama “the worst president we’ve ever had,” not offering anything substantive to back such an incendiary statement. He also added he would vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Ditka’s alt right ruminations are not limited to the ballot box.

Ditka appeared on CBS Radio affiliate 105.3 The Fan in Dallas Friday to offer his viewpoints on a variety of topics where he eventually shared his opinion on the Colin Kaepernick (Ditka ended his playing career in Dallas and began his coaching career there as an assistant before taking the helm in Chicago):

“I think it’s a problem…anybody who disrespects this country and the flag,” Ditka said. “If they don’t like the country they don’t like our flag … get the hell out.”

Ditka’s comments contains three assumptions, none grounded in fact.

1. Those who protests the national anthem disrespect the country and the flag.

First, Ditka surmises someone who protests the flag “disrespects the country and the flag.” Dissent is a common function of the federalism form of government in order to prevent demagoguery. The United States is a great country because it allows for people, even with those with a voice or identity outside of the majority can have their voices heard.

For example, The Connecticut Compromise at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 created a bicameral United States legislature in its infancy by an accord between small and large states.

The comprise buoyed union of a great nation in its infancy by establishing a bicameral legislature in the House of Representatives based on proportional representation and the Senate weighted equally between all states.

Without the “Great Compromise,” small states’ voices would have been swallowed up by bigger states and eventually would have created an unstable union.

All states matter.

Although eleven states seceded from the Union to form the Confederacy, those same states were allowed back and obtained their same right of representation in Congress after a failed Reconstruction following the Civil War.

During legislative sessions no one member of Congress is denied the right to speak on an issue even if he or she does not agree.

The Supreme Court, consisting of nine justices, and does not require unanimous vote to rule.  Dissenting opinions are published as well as majority opinions.

2. Anyone who protests the flag does not like the United States.

Ditka also suggests protest of the flag is grounded in Colin Kaepernick not liking the country.

Colin Kaepernick is currently playing on contract paying him $61 million guaranteed. Kaepernick’s story of adoption is well documented and his rise from discarded child to rich athlete is a beautiful consequence of being American.

Never has Colin Kaepernick expressed a dislike for this country. Never does a representative expressed a disdain for the country in introducing legislation to make for a more perfect union.

Challenging America through dissent and doing so peacefully is an expression of love of country, not the opposite.

3. Get the “hell out.”

Mike Ditka says people should get the “hell out” if they don’t like America. Such sentiments are grounded in the old “go back to Africa” refrain that is as old as the American civil rights movement.

African Americans and those who support a free and just society living up to its ideals have the right to love their country as they choose. Part of that love of country is working to eliminate lingering effects of generations of oppression and a new form of segregation grounded in poverty and its damaging effects on violence and community policing.

Unfortunately Mike Ditka doesn’t even believe there are any problems as well:

“I have no respect for Colin Kaepernick — he probably has no respect for me, that’s his choice,” Ditka said. “My choice is, I like this country, I respect our flag, and I don’t see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on.”

Ditka’s belief there are no atrocities in this country is special form of divisiveness grounded in the logic expressed by US Congressman Robert Pittenger and Donald Trump’s now resigned Mohining County, Ohio Chair Kathy Miller.

After unrest in Charlotte following the death of Keith Scott at the hands of police, the Republican representative of the 9th District of North Carolina stated protestors “hate white people because they (white people) are successful and they’re (protestors) are not.”

Besides the fact the protestors consisted of whites as well as other people of color, Pittenger reduced protestors to being malcontents having nothing to complain about.

Kathy Miller boldly proclaimed:

“If you’re black and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your own fault. You’ve had every opportunity, it was given to you…I don’t think there was any racism until Obama got elected. We never had problems like this … Now, with the people with the guns, and shooting up neighborhoods, and not being responsible citizens, that’s a big change, and I think that’s the philosophy that Obama has perpetuated on America.”

The perspective of Ditka, Pittenger, and Miller is many African Americans are lazy, whiny, disrespectful, unpatriotic haters who have created their own problems.

Ditka, Pittenger, and Miller have every right to express their opinion. That’s the beauty of America. We do not live in North Korea.

However, the only thing lazy, whiny, and disrespectful is the logic these three possess and continue to radio to the field of injustice expecting to continue to score.

There are far too many Americans concussed to continue playing these silly head games.

Exavier B. Pope I, Esq. is an award-winning attorney, on-air legal analyst, media personality, Fortune 500 speaker, content creator, writer, tastemaker, thought leader, and yogi. Mr. Pope is the host of #SuitUP Podcast for his production company 528 Media Group, and  host of the Radical Inspiration Podcast. Mr. Pope has over 200+ appearances on air, including international television on BBC and Al Jazeera English; national television on Fox News Channel, HLN, NBC Nightly News, Al Jazeera America, WGN Morning News, Fox Business Channel, and Huff Post Live; Top 3 Local Media Markets on Fox, CBS, and NBC; international radio on BBC Radio; national radio on ESPN Radio, Clear Channel Radio, NBC Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio; written and contributed digitally to The Hollywood Reporter, CNBC, Huffington Post, Jet, and Black Enterprise; and has appeared in other media outlets nationally and internationally. Mr. Pope is represented by top media and literary agency RLR Associates.

© 2016, Exavier B. Pope I, Esq., 528 Media Group.

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