Seeing all of the venom spewed at NFL player Colin Kaepernick takes me back to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Today, even Republicans admit that there were no weapons of mass destruction, no direct connection to 9/11, and no reason to invade Iraq, but back in 2003 it was thought to be anti-American, even treasonous, to speak out against the Iraq invasion. I was playing for the Washington Wizards in the nations capital and simply couldn't keep quiet about what I saw as blatant disrespect to our troops--sending them to die because of deliberate lies perpetuated by then-President George W. Bush. I began reciting my poems at rallies and marches around Washington, D.C. Sometimes thirty or forty people came. At other times, hundreds or even thousands showed up. I delivered each poem with the same tenacity no matter the size of the crowd. Here is an excerpt from one of my poems, titled "Bring Our Heroes Home":
Out of the ashes of Iraq come soldiers dressed in fatigues of fire wearing helmets secured in smoke They've choked off the lies spewed out of the mouth of a burning bush The true warriors existing wake Whose flames burned them at the stake Cremated their bodies And stuffed them in an urn wrapped in red, white, and blue... Rummaging through a forest set ablaze by one lethal match With witty catch phrases forever attached to the side of their kingdom Operation Iraqi Freedom Links to Al Qaeda Eminent Threats And weapons of mass destruction ... They've been skillfully thrown into the lion's den Out of the frying pan and into the furnace Their courage exceeds any measuring stick But they can hear the footsteps of death creeping around the corner For they've been led into the eye of the storm Transformed into peacekeepers Lending a helping hand for the poorly planned post-war strategy ... I attempted to get my message out to the papers, but nobody wanted to cover it. I tried The Washington Post and The Washington Times, since those papers covered our team. But I was met with a resounding no.
Then, at one particular anti-war rally, I performed a poem called "The Field Trip." I named about ten different Republicans I wanted to take on a field trip to see the results of their policies. That rally went viral before going viral was a thing. There was no social media or Twitter back then, but soon the story of the rally was everywhere.
All the criticism leveled at Kaepernick takes me back to those days and the hate mail delivered to me at the then MCI...