To the editor: As someone who helps run a national (nonpartisan) civics education organization for youth, I tend to commend any effort to get engaged as it relates to creating more equitable policy change. So when I heard about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's efforts, I got excited thinking that others might draw some unique inspiration to get further engaged. ("Colin Kaepernick chose not to vote. He should stop complaining about the system," Nov. 21)
Alas, I was rather crestfallen when I learned he had not ever voted. Worse, he sent an implicit message to others who might still be forming their civic identities that voting is something to casually opt out of.
While Kaepernick is far from unique in his deep frustration over politics and police brutality, deciding to throw local issues out with the presidential bathwater shoots him in the very foot that he tucked behind him when taking a knee during the National Anthem. I hope he and others who drew inspiration from him come to realize that, while far from the silver bullet to our political woes, voting is foundational.
So, Colin, once the season is over, come by and join us. But on your way, pick up a voter registration card. Our youth and the future of our democracy are counting on it.
David Moren, Berkeley
To the editor: As a U.S. Marine Corps pilot, I served two 13-month combat tours in Vietnam. During my time there, I knew that I wasn't safe until I saw our flag (but even then I wasn't truly safe). Like other veterans, I honor our flag and national anthem.
I also respect and support Kaepernick in his efforts to bring attention to racial injustices in the U.S. by kneeling during the playing of our anthem. One of the greatest rights afforded in our country is the right to demonstrate against injustice.
Unfortunately, our country's history reflects that simply because of differences in personal beliefs, some groups discriminate against others. Too often, that discrimination is brought to the attention of others only because of demonstrators who have been reviled and even attacked by those who do not share their beliefs.
We must remember that without dissent, there is no change to society.
Philip Johnson, Rancho Palos Verdes
To the editor: It comes as no surprise that Kaepernick did not vote. His actions before games did not raise awareness about any issues among those who have any idea of our nation's problems. Instead, they drew attention away from the solutions, which are almost exclusively local.
Those who believe that black lives matter should look to another football player, Hall of Famer Jim Brown. He has been working for decades in many areas to reduce gang violence, a major cause of homicides among African Americans.
Meanwhile, Kaepernick throws a little money at the problem and smugly moves on.
Jeff Solomon, Tarzana