As the kids say:
A 28-year-old man named Ahmad Khan Rahami was arrested Monday in connection with the explosion that rocked Manhattan’s Chelsea district on Saturday. Lee Zeldin, a U.S. Congressman who represents New York’s 1st congressional district, followed the arrest with a subtweet to Colin Kaepernick that left many scratching their heads.
Classic America! But perhaps this can be a teachable moment for all.
First, here’s the tweet:
Suspect in custody. You are welcome Colin Kaepernick.
Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) September 19, 2016
We emailed Rep. Zeldin’s staff to see if he could perhaps expand on that thought. The reply we received, attributed to the representative, read in part:
“I’m insulted and disgusted when someone refuses to say the pledge or stand for the national anthem. That is their right of free speech and this is mine. I’m so grateful that we have our nation’s protectors to do what they do and do it so well.”
Kaepernick, of course, is the NFL quarterback who last month began kneeling during the pre-game national anthem in protest of police brutality toward black Americans. His silent protests have since spread throughout the league and beyond, with other NFL players, U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe and even some youth football teams following suit.
It’s not that complicated to be anti-terrorism but also anti-police-killing-unarmed-minorities-with-far-too-much-frequency. But a black quarterback kneeling during the national anthem is low-hanging fruit for politicians who want to do a bit of grandstanding. This is the American discourse in 2016.
In an Instagram post two weeks ago, Kaepernick wrote in part that “rogue cops … not only put the community in danger, but also put the cops that have the right intentions in danger by creating an environment of tension and mistrust.”
Seems simple enough. We’ve seen it with Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner and way too many other unarmed black and Latino men and women killed by police way too recently. (And we recently saw Terence Crutcher‘s name added to that list.)
Now here’s more from Kaepernick.
The media painted this as Im anti-American, anti-men-and-women of the military and thats not the case at all, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback said in early September. I realize that men and women of the military go out and sacrifice their lives and put themselves in harms way for my freedom of speech and my freedoms in this country and my freedom to take a seat or take a knee so I have the utmost respect for them.”
At any rate, Rep. Zeldin’s tweet was mocked by many who saw his logic as specious at best.
This implies at least one of:
– Kaepernick was the next target
– Lee had anything to do with catching the suspect https://t.co/HhjbUfE4MZ
Patrick Monahan (@pattymo) September 19, 2016
I brushed and flossed my teeth this morning. You are welcome Colin Kaepernick. https://t.co/KkjoP74mhG
Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) September 19, 2016
when you gotta get these takes off no matter whathttps://t.co/Uk2LNjnR1t
Greg Howard (@greghoward88) September 19, 2016
Now here’s the full response Rep. Zeldin’s office sent us, attributed to Rep. Zeldin himself:
This is that moment in time that reminds us exactly of why we are so blessed to have men and women in our military, law enforcement, and other first responders who would risk their lives and lay it all on the line to protect our freedoms and liberties. We wouldn’t be able to live in the greatest nation in the world if not for these heroes who keep us safe, secure and free. This is why our flag is more than just colored cloth. This is why I unapologetically love our country and our heroes who defend us. I’m insulted and disgusted when someone refuses to say the pledge or stand for the national anthem. That is their right of free speech and this is mine. I’m so grateful that we have our nation’s protectors to do what they do and do it so well.
Oh, and Kaepernick’s Twitter handle, for the congressman’s future reference, is @.