San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick says the United States could learn a thing or two about education from former Cuban President Fidel Castro.
Mr. Kaepernick, who has sought to draw attention to a litany of causes célèbres this football season by kneeling during the pre-game National Anthem, was grilled by Miami media ahead of Sunday’s game against the Dolphins for his perceived support of the Communist dictator.
The embattled quarterback, who was spotted in a T-shirt depicting Mr. Castro earlier this year, initially demurred when asked about the shirt by a reporter from the Miami Herald who comes from a family of Cuban exiles. He pointed out that the shirt also pictured Malcolm X.
“I’m not talking about Fidel Castro and his oppression,” Mr. Kaepernick said on Wednesday’s press call, the Palm Beach Post reported. “I’m talking about Malcolm X and what he’s done for people.”
But when pressed on the point, he praised the Cuban autocrat’s comparative commitment to education and criminal justice reform.
“One thing that Fidel Castro did do is they have the highest literacy rate because they invest more in their education system than they do in their prison system, which we do not do here, even though we’re fully capable of doing that,” Mr. Kaepernick said.
When the reporter rebutted that Mr. Castro broke up countless families during his half-century, one-man reign over the oppressed island nation, Mr. Kaepernick said the United States breaks up plenty of families, too.
“We do break up families here,” he said. “That’s what mass incarceration is. That was the foundation of slavery, so our country has been based on that as well as the genocide of Native Americans.”
Asked about fans who stopped watching National Football League games because of the controversial protest, Mr. Kaepernick said they need to “look in the mirror at what they value.”
“You know, if they’re OK with people being treated unfairly, being abused, being harassed, being terrorized, then the problem is more with what they’re doing in their lives than it is about watching football games,” the quarterback said.
The 49ers and Dolphins kick off from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, this Sunday at 1 p.m.