Ruth Bader Ginsburg Calls Kaepernick's NFL Protest 'Dumb' -- & That's Not Cool

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, during confirmation hearings, U. S. Supreme Court. 7/21/1993

To say Colin Kaepernick has sparked a social movement by protesting the national anthem -- to raise awareness about police brutality -- would be an understatement. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback is now joined by fellow NFL players, young athletes across the country, and #VeteransforKaepernick who support his right to protest. And while it's only natural to expect opposition, many (myself included) are having a hard time processing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's sentiments that Kaepernick's protest is "dumb."


For someone -- who has championed for women and gay rights, has shattered barriers, and is known for her forward thinking -- to be so quickly dismissive of a silent and peaceful protest is very disheartening.

... But here we are.

The "Notorious RBG" talked to Katie Couric for Yahoo! News and spoke on everything from Donald Trump to his crazy desire for a temporary ban on Muslims. The interview started off as a wonderful delight with RBG offering her two cents -- even in her dislike of the Donald -- with grace and a positive outlook that things will change for the better.

More from CafeMom: 'Muslims Should Tell on Each Other' Isn't a Lesson We Plan to Teach Our Kids (Sorry, Trump)

And when Katie asked about her feelings regarding our country's racial divide and recent news of police brutality, Ruth's perspective was honest and one of hope:

... We start [healing] by recognizing there is a problem, and then we try to come up with solutions. 

People are noticing it, they're recognizing it [police brutality] is a problem. And good minds are grappling with how to deal with it, both on the community side and on the police side.

(I'm vibing with you, Ruth. I'm vibing with you.)

And then, Ruth Bader Ginsburg pulled the rug out from under many of us as her sanguine rhetoric -- one that empathized with discrimination, because she "experienced that upset" herself -- immediately turned critical when asked about Colin Kaepernick and other athletes' protest of the national anthem.

"I think it's really dumb of them. Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it's dumb and disrespectful," said Ginsburg.

More from CafeMom: Veteran Shows How NFLer's Protest of US Anthem Is Patriotic in One Glorious Essay

RBG also adds:

If they want to be stupid, there is no law that should be preventive. If they want to be arrogant, there's no law that prevents them from that. What I would do is strongly take issue with the point of view that they are expressing when they do that.


Of course, it's possible that when she said "point of view," she was talking about the decision to protest in what some might consider an unpatriotic manner (earlier in the interview she likened it to flag burning) -- but that's not the way it came across to many.

Since her interview, some of RBG's fans have taken to social media to express their feelings about her dismissal of Kaepernick's protest.

Listen, I have no problem with anyone who disagrees with a person not standing for the national anthem and thinks it's "disrespectful." That and Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointing out our freedom to protest are not the big issues here.

My issue is with RBG calling this choice "dumb" and referring to Kaepernick and others who support this effort as "stupid" -- especially when she just agreed there is in fact a problem that needs addressing.

As she is a Supreme Court judge and has fought against discrimination and bias and pushed for equality all her life, I think that her commenting on Kaepernick's protest -- failing to directly address his purpose for protesting in the first place -- is a major misstep and one of the issues that advocates, like Colin, are trying to point out.

More from CafeMom: Asking for Police Accountability Isn't Racist or Anti-Cop -- It's Just Fair

When you say that we, as a country, need to start recognizing there is a racial problem in an effort to find a solution and also rip someone apart -- someone who is trying to bring attention to said racial problems -- it becomes hard not to question where you truly stand.

Was it "stupid" for Tommie Smith and John Carlos to protest in silence during the 1968 Olympic games?

Were members of the Women's Liberation Movement "dumb" for carrying out a dramatic protest demonstration outside the Miss America pageant that same year?

Were Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others who participated in sit-ins, marched down streets intentionally blocking traffic, and were arrested countless times in the name of civil rights not smart, too?

I wonder if disrespect and stupidity would be used to speak about Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student who walked with her mattress around campus in protest of her rape and how the university handled it?

More from CafeMom: Inspiring Protest Photo of Brave Mom Is a Call to Action for Us All

As you state in your interview, Ruth, we "can disagree without being disagreeable." And rather than use a negative tone about your disapproval of such a public protest, it would've been nice for a Supreme Court Justice like yourself -- who's very vocal about her opinions and the need for more progress in this country -- to offer little more than just brushing off a topic about social justice with the words "dumb" and "stupid."

I do, however, agree with one thing you said, RBG. This country's current rhetoric -- including the constant dismissal of bringing touchy subjects to light -- is "distressing ... But I'm hopeful it will go away."


Image via Rob Crandall / Shutterstock

Read More >