Giants' manager Gabe Kapler takes a stand against gun violence.
As our country and much of the civilized world are still reeling from the anguish stemming from arguably one of the saddest episodes in U.S. history, Gabe Kapler, a former major league ballplayer and currently the manager of the San Francisco Giants, had enough.
While the team was in Cincinnati , Kapler announced he would refuse to take the field for the customary playing of the national anthem.
“I’m often struck before our games by the lack of delivery of the promise of what our national anthem represents,” he wrote on his blog the day before.
“We stand in honor of a country where we elect representatives to serve us, to thoughtfully consider and enact legislation that protects the interests of all the people in this country and to move this country forward towards the vision of the ‘shining city on the hill.’ But instead, we thoughtlessly link our moment of silence and grief with the equally thoughtless display of celebration for a country that refuses to take up the concept of controlling the sale of weapons used nearly exclusively for the mass slaughter of human beings. We have our moment (over and over), and then we move on without demanding real change from the people we empower to make these changes.
“Every time I place my hand over my heart and remove my hat, I’m participating in a self-congratulatory glorification of the ONLY country where these mass shootings take place.”
He reiterated his stance to reporters in the dugout.
Then San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick caused a major firestorm when he kneeled during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner in 2016 to protest police brutality. Kaepernick, who is Black, witnessed fans boycotting NFL games, listen to former President Trump demagoguing the issue to death, endured racist slurs, and he has still yet to take a snap in the NFL since.
On the other hand, Kapler, whose parents were civil rights activists, isn’t kneeling; he is simply staying away during the anthem until he sees a change in direction of the country on gun violence.
Predictably, there was blowback. “San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler is the latest ingrate to disrespect our flag and proud nation,” wrote Sid Rosenberg, co-host of the Bernie and Sid morning radio program on WABC in New York City, on Twitter. “This [sic] coming days away from most Americans celebrating our best’s heroism on Memorial Day. He should pick up Kaepernick in his fancy car & leave the country today. Get out Gabe!”
Gabe Kapler wasn’t the only sports figure from the Bay Area to speak out against the inaction of our leaders. Coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors blasted the Congress and Senate for failing to do anything to stem gun violence and being beholden to the gun lobby. He made his passionate remarks during a pre-playoff game press conference and chose to speak out on the mass shooting than discuss the game ahead.
“In the last 10 days, we've had elderly Black people killed in a supermarket in Buffalo, we’ve had Asian churchgoers killed in Southern California, now we have children murdered at school,” Kerr told reporters.
“When are we going to do something? I’m tired. I’m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there ... I’m tired of the moments of silence. Enough.”
For Gabe Kapler, Kerr and Kaepernick, despite their high-profile platform, they understand that little will “move the needle,” as Kapler pointed out. But it keeps the conversation moving forward with the hope our legislators in Washington finally heed the call. If the slaughter –and it was slaughter—of 19 innocent 9 year-olds and 2 teachers in Uvalde won’t move the needle, it is hard to imagine what would.
By his words and actions and knowing that he will be castigated by the far right, Gabe Kapler demonstrated courage that is so needed. Yet, several of his fellow managers have offered support.
As we continue to grieve this senseless and despicable tragedy, Gabe showed the world what true patriotism is.