Whether it is death by handguns on the streets of urban communities or mass shootings carried out using semiautomatic assault weapons, the carnage that is taking place across America’s landscape has disheartenedly become a normalized aspect of this country’s violent culture.
Embodying the sentiments of the vast amount of America’s population, San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler deeply desires change, a dramatic course correction that will spare the lives of countless men, women and children who are potential victims of a massacre, a heinous act analogous to the mass shootings that took the lives of 10 Black people at the paradoxically named Tops
Friendly Markets in Buffalo, New York on May 14, and 21 people, including 19 children, at the predominantly Hispanic Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24.
Kapler, the 2021 National League Manager of the Year, informed the media last Friday before his team faced the Cincinnati Reds in Ohio that he would no longer be on the field for the customary presentation of the United States’ national anthem until for further notice stating, “I don’t plan on coming out for the anthem going forward until I feel better about the direction of our country.”
On the same day, Kapler posted an impassioned and reflective essay on his blog, Kaplifestyle, expressing his discontent with elected officials and policies that fail to address and rectify deleterious issues.
“The day 19 children and 2 teachers were murdered, we held a moment of silence at sporting events around the country, then we played the national anthem, and we went on with our lives,” wrote the 46-year-old native of Los Angeles, whose deceased father Michael and mother Judy were raised in Brooklyn.
“When I was the same age as the children in Uvalde, my father taught me to stand for the pledge of allegiance when I believed my country was representing its people well or to protest and stay seated when it wasn’t. I don’t believe it is representing us well right now…
“We elect our politicians to represent our interests,” Kapler expounded. “Immediately following this shooting, we were told we needed locked doors and armed teachers. We were given thoughts and prayers. We were told it could have been worse, and we just need love…But we weren’t given bravery, and we aren’t free.”
There have been varying and conflicting interpretations of what the national anthem, also referred to as the “Star-Spangled Banner,” epitomizes since it was penned as a poem in 1814 by Francis Scott Key named the “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” For some, it has meant liberty, equality and opportunity. For others, it is an expression of oppression, hypocrisy and opportunities denied.
In honor of Memorial Day on Monday, Kapler made an exception and stood on the field at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia prior to the Giants playing against the Phillies. “The protest was not about the anthem and I think I made that clear as well,” Kapler said from Philadelphia. ”The landscape is ever-changing and these issues are not black and white…
“Issues like gun control and in particular gun safety are important to me and I will continue to be expressing my thoughts going forward.”
Subsequent to the Robb Elementary School shooting, over the past week there were mass shootings in Chattanooga, Tennessee leaving six teenagers injured and in Charleston, South Carolina, where 10 people were wounded while some federal lawmakers continue to serve their own self-interest and oppose strict gun laws.
The harsh reality is violence is deeply embedded in the DNA of this country.