Beyond Disappointment.

Colin Kaepernick and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. AP photo.

Colin Kaepernick and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. AP photo.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg doesn’t often speak publicly, but while promoting her new book, My Own Words, she used her words to admonish Colin Kaepernick and other athletes taking a knee or engaging in forms of protest in an interview with Yahoo today.

“I think it’s really dumb of them,” the veteran justice told Katie Couric in the Yahoo News video. “Would I arrest them for doing it, no.”

Ginsburg seems to be on the side of those who feel the actions of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Kaepernick, Seattle Reign soccer player Megan Rapinoe, and scores of other athletes across the country are inappropriate, while failing to see the purpose of the protest themselves.

Comparing the kneeling to flag burning, Ginsburg called it “a terrible thing to do,” but said the protesters are within their rights and the law, as long as their actions don’t “jeopardize the health or well-being of other people.”

When Couric followed up for clarification, Ginsburg went further, saying,  “If they want to be stupid, there is no law that should be preventive; if they want to be arrogant, there is no law that prevents them from that.”

Stupid? Arrogant? Really. I don’t see kneeling as an act of arrogance, no matter which direction you view it from. The way I see it, kneeling is emphasising the position all of us peoples who continue to be dominated are already in, and have been in that position for hundreds of years. It’s hardly a patch on the colonial-minded arrogance of ownership still sported by most Americans, and many of them proudly so. How is it stupid? It’s calling attention to a most deep, serious, and pervasive problem, without disruption. One could argue there’s a lack of respect, and yes, I’d agree, there’s a lack of respect for domination, control, a sense of ownership, a demand for servility, the embrace of racism as a good, and the ongoing murders of the dominated peoples. None of those things deserve respect, in any way.

This is incredibly disappointing from someone like Bader Ginsburg, and beyond disappointing. Goes to show how deeply implicit racism inhabits us all, no matter how liberal, open minded and fair we might consider ourselves.

Via The Advocate, full story here.


  1. says

    No heroes, eh?
    Seriously, US Nationalism (called “patriotism”) is a disease that seems to be endemic and not going anywhere soon. When even otherwise sensible people think the worst thing anyone can do is to disrespect a fucking flag or anthem there’s something very wrong. If you want your country to be respected, your anthem to be sung cheerfully, your flag to be waved with joy: Act so you earn it.

  2. says

    RBG is a 1%er oligarch who presides over a corrupt justice system.
    (Supposedly she and Scalia were “best buddies” over their shared love of opera)
    She’s not a progressive, she’s a cog in the system of oppression.

    You expected what?

  3. says

    If you want your country to be respected

    No country actually belongs to any of us; it’s never “our” country to begin with -- why respect it? It’s not my flag, it’s not my country, it’s not my justice system. I just live here because they haven’t figured out, yet, the contempt in which I hold them.

  4. Saad says

    I’m disappointed too. The truth is white supremacy is too deep. It was and remains an integral part of the nation and the culture. It’s not about slavery or lynching. To make your children racist, you don’t have to use the N-word; you don’t have to make them recite some KKK creed; you don’t have to tell them black people are violent criminals. You just have to keep nudging them along the white supremacy track gently at every turn. And it’s a very easy job. The whole of society and media reiterates it at every turn.

  5. says


    The whole of society and media reiterates it at every turn.

    The schools too, when you look at the constant push to christianity and the white-washed mess that is U.S. “history”. Colonialism and colonial, short-term thinking is taught at every turn, from a very young age.

  6. rq says

    I would have expected better of her, too. “Better” seems to be a difficult step for most people.

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