San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler is taking a bold stance in the aftermath of the Uvalde school shooting that claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers.
Kapler is deciding not to come out of the dugout for the singing of the national anthem, a stance that is equivalent to being considered traitorous in the polarized country.
However, Kapler’s position hasn’t garnered that indictment, unlike earlier national anthem protestations in the wake of regional tragedies turned national emergencies, like Colin Kaepernick.
“I don’t plan on coming out for the anthem going forward until I feel better about the direction of our country” – Gabe Kapler pic.twitter.com/J1MdlVL3XI
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) May 27, 2022
A Noble Stance
“I don’t plan on coming out for the anthem going forward until I feel better about the direction of our country, ” Kapler said to the media before the Giants’ Friday game against the Cincinnati Reds. “That’ll be the step. I don’t expect it to move the needle necessarily; it’s just something that I feel strongly enough about to take that step.
“I was having a hard time articulating my thoughts the day of the shooting and the day we went out there on the line, and sometimes, for me, it takes me a couple of days to put everything together. I knew that I was not in my best space mentally, and I knew that it was in connection with some of the hypocrisy of standing for the national anthem and how it coincided with the moment of silence and how those two things didn’t synch up well for me.”
Major League Support
Almost unilaterally across the Major League Baseball managerial level, support has poured in for Kapler. “Brave” was the keyword in Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward’s statement of support for Kapler.
Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora lauded Kapler’s vocalizing of what bothers him and “for that, I’m proud of him.” Three more managers went on record with support, with Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa voicing the dissenting opinion.
Gabe Kapler doesn’t plan on coming out of the dugout for the National Anthem in a silent protest against gun violence.
I have a feeling he’ll be treated differently than Colin Kaepernick.
— KD 📚🌎🌊🇺🇸 (@kdnerak33) May 28, 2022
The One Opposed
“I think he’s exactly right to be concerned with what’s happening in our country,” La Russa said to the media before playing the Cubs on Saturday night. “He’s right there. Where I disagree is the flag, and the anthem are not appropriate places to try to voice your objections.
“Some of their courage comes from what the flag means to them and when they hear the anthem,” La Russa continued. “You need to understand what the veterans think when they hear the anthem or see the flag. And the cost they paid and their families. And if you truly understand that, I think it’s impossible not to salute the flag and listen to the anthem.”
Where’s The Vitriol?
Sound familiar? Minus a sitting U.S. president saying, “get that son of a bitch off the field right now,” Kapler fell into the militarized patriotic trap that the national anthem engenders in many. The main difference is the lack of vitriol against his stance.
In America, a white man can be conflicted by the love of his country and the lack of political leadership to stop heinous crimes. But contradictory political strategies and a lack of a balanced American experience are baked into the country’s DNA.
White Sox manager Tony La Russa wants it to be very clear: He likes and respects Gabe Kapler and agrees with his stance on gun violence but disagrees with his mode of protesting. (Kapler says he’ll remain in the clubhouse for the national anthem.)
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) May 28, 2022
The Messenger. Then The Message.
However, it will always be about the messenger more than the message. Kapler does not make the subject racially conflagrant because he is a white man.
What Kapler is doing to shed light on the issue of gun control is noble, exposing the gaping hole in American idealism: a subjectiveness that can only accept one portion of the population expressing doubt on the American experiment and its idyllic yet contradictory anthem.