You may not agree that police violence against African-Americans, or anti-black racism is the sort of problem many NFL players, beginning with Colin Kaepernick, think it is. You may not think the proper form of protesting this is to refuse to stand during the national anthem.
But we can bracket those two disagreements for the sake of this post, where I want to respond to one specific — and popular — argument against the NFL players protesting. Newt Gingrich made it here:
.@newtgingrich on athletes kneeling: "If you're a multi-millionaire who feels oppressed, you need a therapist not a publicity stunt." pic.twitter.com/w0uDIGNCIj— Fox News (@FoxNews) September 24, 2017
I've seen many others make that exact argument or some variation of it: These guys have nothing to protest, as they are super wealthy and privileged. This argument misses the point.
Here's what Kaepernick said in 2016 in his first public statement on his refusal to stand.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. "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."
That is, Kaepernick doesn't think he is the victim here. He doesn't argue that he is oppressed. He argues that he is using his prominence and power to stand up for the powerless. That's a noble thing to do with power, and victims of government oppression and violence are the definition of the powerless.
Again, you may disagree with any of the premises or tactics here, but it's not a valid counterargument to point out Kaepernick is wealthy.
Timothy P. Carney, the Washington Examiner's commentary editor, can be contacted at email@example.com. His column appears Tuesday nights on washingtonexaminer.com.