Stephen Colbert puts Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest in proper historical perspective

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Colin Kaepernick, quaterback for the San Francisco 49ers, is causing a ruckus by refusing to stand during the national anthem in protest of what he calls “a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday’s Late Show. “A bold stance — or, technically, a bold sits. But the 49ers are playing their last preseason game tomorrow night in San Diego, and all eyes will be on Kaepernick — because anything is more interesting that watching a preseason game.”

Among the people upset over this protest is Donald Trump, who shot Kaepernick an “America: love it or leave it” critique. Colbert was amused: “Well said: If a country doesn’t work for you, find one that does. That’s why Trump’s factories are all located in China.” Now, Colbert is also a lover of the national anthem who stands up and sings harmony when he hears it. But Trump and Kaepernick both have a right to speak out, Colbert said, name-checking the Constitution. “Constitutionally, Kaepernick protesting and people being upset with him protesting is a win-win — two words the 49ers will not be hearing a lot this season,” he quipped.

“But this controversy has made me wonder how the national anthem and sporting events got connected in the first place,” Colbert said, and then he explained, tracing the tradition back to 1918 and the Chicago Cubs. “The story proves that playing the national anthem at games is the most American thing of all: marketing,” he concluded. “So maybe it’s not that offensive to sit it out. Or if it is offensive, it should also be offensive not to buy a mattress on President’s Day.” Watch below.

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