- - Tuesday, November 29, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

There’s no shame in being ignorant, only in staying that way. San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick is in danger of ruining his occasionally brilliant career with a foolish, radical cause off the field. He has thrown in with those who hate cops as oppressors while eulogizing a genuine tyrant. He has the right to mouth the angry slogans of Black Lives Matter as he breathes the sweet air of freedom, but he should remember that “it’s Fidel Castro, stupid.”

Football is a game about timing, and the Super Bowl also-ran had the misfortune of defending Fidel just about the time the 90-year-old Cuban dictator was taking his last breath in Havana. “One thing that Fidel Castro did do,” he said, “is they have the highest literacy rate because they invest more in their education system than they do in their prison system,” said Mr. Kaepernick. Cubans, however, know that if they don’t learn in school to revere Fidel and brother Raul, they risk landing in the pokey for a long time.

Mr. Kaepernick insisted later that his remarks were taken out of context, the usual morning-after excuse for saying something stupid. He could broaden his own literacy by picking up an audio book titled “The Double Life of Fidel Castro: My 17 Years as Personal Bodyguard to El Lder Maximo,” written by Juan Reinaldo Sanchez. He would learn that his hero led one life as a simple man of the socialist revolution earning $43 a month, the other as a wealthy caudillo with 20 secret estates, two wives and a harem. Prison was for the lucky ones — during Castro’s five decades as “El Comandante” thousands of Cubans were executed as enemies of the state merely for the crime of not liking the Castro brothers.

Mr. Kaepernick has company among the friends of Fidel. The Black Lives Matter movement he honors by refusing to stand for the national anthem, eulogized the Cuban strongman this way: “As Fidel ascends to the realm of the ancestors, we summon his guidance, strength, and power as we recommit ourselves to the struggle for universal freedom. Fidel Vive!” In particular, Black Lives Matter praised Castro for harboring Assata Shakur, who fled to Cuba in 1984 after she was convicted in the shooting death of a New Jersey state trooper.

Murder is murder and cannot be justified by wrapping it in the clothes of a “heroic” cause. In following Black Lives Matter into the thicket of anti-Americanism, Colin Kaepernick crossed the line that separates thoughtful political opinion from blind hatred. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he says. “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.”

Some of the casualties are dead cops. There have been 61 police fatalities so far this year, compared to 41 during all of 2015. If Mr. Kaepernick is as uncaring about the deaths of innocent officers as he appears to be about the thousands killed and imprisoned on Fidel’s island, he has a lot to learn about the real world.

He seems determined to prove that you can, too, be both a quarterback and dumb. Sportswriters asked Kiko Alonso, the Cuban-American linebacker whose mighty tackle stopped Colin Kaepernick on the 2-yard line in the final seconds of Sunday’s 49er-Dolphins game, whether his opponent’s admiration for Fidel Castro inspired his game-saving tackle. “Yeah,” he replied, “it matters.”


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