Kaepernick v. Carney ... Dishonor v. Honor
What the contrasting lives and actions of two men tell us about the revisionist desecration of our legacy of Liberty.
“The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.” —George Washington (1796)
“Juneteenth” (19 June) is a significant observation of that day in 1865 when the last slaves, those in Texas, received word of their freedom. It represents another step toward the fulfillment of the principles of Liberty enumerated by our Founders 89 years earlier in our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Unfortunately this year’s Juneteenth observation was sullied by the perennial election-year provocation of racial tensions by leftist provocateurs and their mainstream media publicists. This year’s theme is “systemic racism,” which they claim is plaguing our system of justice and, by extension, virtually every other aspect of American life.
Right on cue, our local Democrat mayor, Chattanooga’s Andy Berke, led a pandering parade of constituents bearing Pan-African “black liberation” flags created by radical separatist Marcus Garvey in 1920. That Afro-centric flag reemerged in 2014 after the high-profile shooting of street thug Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. (Recall that an investigation by Barack Obama’s Justice Department determined that Brown had attacked Officer Darren Wilson and attempted to take his gun, that Brown never put his hands up saying “Don’t Shoot,” and that the officer’s actions were justified.)
Our local mayoral exercise in virtue signaling took place on a bridge across the Tennessee River, which is rich in irony because Democrats certainly don’t want to bridge the gap between races they have worked for generations to create. This sophomoric flag display was not to unite our community but to divide us — such division being the staple of Democrat political strategy. That’s why the residents of our nation’s inner cities, under generations of oppressive Democrat policies and political regimes, have effectively been institutionally enslaved on urban poverty plantations nationwide.
By way of example, consider the unjustified death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Who was in charge? The Minneapolis mayor, city council president, police chief, county prosecutor, and U.S. House district representative are all Democrats. The Minnesota governor, state attorney general and both Senate members are all Democrats. So where exactly does the change need to begin?
But what struck me most about the local Juneteenth march under the Pan-African banners is that the Juneteenth liberation of slaves took place under the American flag, not some fabricated “black liberation” banner. In fact, the European slave trade was dependent on Pan-African networks of black rulers and slave traders who captured other Africans and delivered them in chains to ports for export. It was more profitable for those rulers to sell their tribal enemies than enslave them in Africa.
For the record, senior Hoover Institution fellow at Stanford, Thomas Sowell, observed: “More whites were brought as slaves to North Africa than blacks brought as slaves to the United States or to the 13 colonies from which it was formed. White slaves were still being bought and sold in the Ottoman Empire, decades after blacks were freed in the United States.”
Notably, the African slave trade is still thriving today. While there were an estimated 13 million people enslaved between the 15th and 19th centuries, mostly by the British and French, today the Global Slavery Index estimates that more than 40 million people are subjugated by some form of modern chattel slavery, most often referred to now as “human trafficking.” And Africa is the epicenter of that enslavement.
Of course, the nation taking the most action to end human trafficking worldwide is … the United States. Beyond African slave trafficking, the tribal genocide in Nigeria and other African nations today — the slaughter of tens of thousands of men, women, and children — rarely receives a media mention.
Celebrating the freedom of slaves under a Pan-African banner is at best uninformed, and at worst, absurd. But when it comes to Democrat efforts to divide Americans into dependent constituencies, virtue signaling supersedes substance. As Demo Joe Biden declared, “We choose truth over facts,” meaning to ensure the ends justify the means, a manufactured “truth” takes precedence over the facts.
To be clear, Marin Luther King never burned and looted, or attacked anyone. He observed: “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Indeed, his message was genuinely about love and unity.
We should all embrace Martin King’s “dream that one day … the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, ‘My country 'tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, Land of the Pilgrims’ pride, From every mountainside, Let freedom ring.‘ When we let freedom ring … we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children – black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics – will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, We are free at last!’”
That freedom will only be found in the unity reflected in love and respect for each other, regardless of our race or creeds. But as long as politicians succeed in dividing Americans by race, there will be no peace. That divisive strategy is the real “systemic racism” in America, and they defile King’s legacy.
A remarkable illustration of the divisive revisionist history promoted by the Left today is the contrast between the lives and actions of two black men: William Harvey Carney and Colin Rand Kaepernick. Their response to our American flag is separated by 150 years, and by the revisionist desecration of our legacy of Liberty under that flag.
William Carney was born into slavery in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1840. It is believed he made his way to freedom by way of the Underground Railroad and was able to join his father in Massachusetts. In March of 1863, 23-year-old Carney joined the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. The 54th was the second, but most famous, infantry regiment composed of black Americans, as authorized by Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Just four months later, Carney would find himself in pitched battle.
On 11 July 1863, in the First Battle of Fort Wagner, the stronghold protecting the strategic southern approach to Charleston Harbor, Union forces were turned back after suffering 339 casualties to the Confederate’s 12 casualties. But a week later, the famous Second Battle of Fort Wagner was led by the 54th Massachusetts under the command of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (as depicted in the Oscar-winning film “Glory”).
As the 54th reached a point about 150 yards from the fort walls, Confederates opened fire with musket and cannon, decimating the ranks of the black soldiers. Despite this, the 54th bravely fought on and reached the fort parapet, where Shaw became one of the many casualties. After an extraordinarily brutal battle, the black infantrymen were ultimately forced back after suffering 272 killed, wounded, or missing. But, at the end of the day, after additional Union reinforcements captured the fort, the men of the 54th were hailed for their valor and bravery.
One among them, young Sgt. William Carney, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. After the 54th’s color guard was killed, Carney retrieved the U.S. flag carried by his regiment, and, despite his own severe injuries, pressed forward. He held it high under heavy fire and later that day exclaimed to his unit, “Boys, I only did my duty; the old flag never touched the ground!”
He would later recount that, rising at one point with the flag in hand, he was shot: “The bullet I now carry in my body came whizzing like a mosquito, and I was shot. Not being prostrated by the shot, I continued my course, yet had not gone far before I was struck by a second shot.”
Carney was honorably discharged in June 1864 and returned to New Bedford, where he lived until his death in 1908. In honor of the 54th Massachusetts, the Shaw Memorial was erected on Boston Common. On 31 May, 123 years to the day after it was dedicated, Boston BLM (Burn, Loot, and Murder) rioters badly defaced the monument, one of many in their nationwide effort to whitewash our shared history.
And on that disgraceful note, and in stark contrast to the service and sacrifice of William Carney, who honored our flag, let’s consider the life and actions of Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick was born in 1987 in Wisconsin to a white mother, Heidi Russo, and a black father who abandoned Russo before Kaepernick’s birth. Russo put Kaepernick up for adoption with Rick and Teresa Kaepernick, a white couple. He thrived as part of their family, becoming a top student and a multi-sport star in high school. He received a football scholarship from the University of Nevada, and after graduating in 2011 with a 4.0 GPA and a stellar football career, he was drafted by the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.
After a couple of good years, in 2014 Kaepernick signed a six-year contract extension worth up to $126 million.
But in 2016, he was benched after a lackluster season and several injuries — the same year he began his protest against the “The Star-Spangled Banner,” at first refusing to stand and then “taking a knee” during the anthem. In 2017, he opted out of his contract but was not picked up by any other team, though he still enjoyed lucrative corporate sponsorship contracts, most notably with Nike.
Regarding his disrespectful protests, Kaepernick declared his allegiance to correcting the mythical “systemic racism”: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. … There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Often wearing socks depicting cops as “pigs,” he said he would continue his protest until “the American flag represents what it’s supposed to represent.”
Kaepernick thus became the poster child for protesting our flag, the same flag that Medal of Honor recipient William Carney risked his life to raise and defend, and under which more than a million American warriors have served and died.
Bottom line: While Carney understood that it was under the love of Old Glory that he became a free man, Kaepernick is unable to comprehend that glorious history and legacy because his worldview is riddled with hate — perhaps even a pathological self-hatred associated with abandonment as a child.
Amid all the destruction of flags and monuments across the nation, I would note that interpreting history in the current context is NOT understanding history in the proper context.
Footnote: In regards to such comparisons, Leftists have fabricated the notion of “respectability politics,” a straw man facade for tactical retreat when they have no substantive rebuttal.
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