I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired of hearing about the NFL and the national anthem protests. Unfortunately, it’s driving most of the talk about the league now. We don’t primarily see highlights of amazing feats of strength and agility, we instead talk about who is or isn’t standing on the sideline for the national anthem. Yesterday, many teams chose to sit out the traditional pregame ceremony completely to “avoid distractions from the game”. You can decide if you believe that excuse or not. Personally I do not care one bit if Colin Kaepernick or anyone else kneels, sits, or jerks off during the national anthem. As is the case with many controversial issues today, the worst part is the public reaction.
You might expect a right-leaning person to complain about some alleged disrespect for veterans or our country–but that’s not going to happen here. I think Kaepernick and others have made it clear they were meaning to highlight what they perceived as racial injustices in America. If there were truly systemic racial oppression, the only criticism Kaepernick should receive is for putting on such a weak form of protest. That is a serious issue and one that would need correcting. Alas, many right-wing pundits leapt to direct attacks of Colin, rather than his argument. People lunged to boycotts of the NFL for allowing such an ‘atrocity’ to occur.
If you’re one of those people who are so utterly outraged by a player kneeling in protest of injustice, let me ask you some questions. Does this really affect your life in any way? Even if the protests are based on some bogus cases (“Hands Up Don’t Shoot“), does that mean there aren’t real cases of discrimination? Should black people not be allowed to care? Even if you are a veteran and spent your life defending what the flag stands for, do you not support a citizens right to free expression and protest? Even the supreme court has ruled (Texas v. Johnson) that flag burning is protected by the first amendment. By comparison, this is such a mild act. I truly cannot believe it has gained so much media attention.
Of course the president couldn’t just let this go, he couldn’t say something rational. Why would we expect that at this point? Instead he chose to blast off on Twitter about it, which caused many teams to respond.
I’m not Politico or Snopes, but the fact check here should read “Pants on Fire”. The thing about America is that we don’t force anyone to stand for anything. We don’t fire people based on political beliefs–oops, sorry James Damore. That is to say, we shouldn’t. It seems like Trump is taking these protests personally. But really, they started before his presidency. His ego has made things so much worse. Where before it was only a few players choosing to kneel, now entire teams are making a statement by absenting themselves from the ritual completely.
NFL players are entitle to their own opinions, and you are entitled not to like them. If you choose not to attend games, buy merchandise, or watch on TV– good for you. But by attacking individual players and adding to the culture of reactionary politics, you are not solving anything. You can think Kaepernick is wrong and still recognize his right to protest. You can enjoy the game of football without the players conforming to your idea of patriotism. You can recognize that while most instances of police violence are probably not racially motivated, they are still outside the bounds of what we would expect from our law enforcement officers. You can even turn off your television and go outside, maybe spend time with your family instead of parked on the couch.
The constant overreactions are what has made tuning into a game unbearable, not the protests. In recent history the tantrum-throwing attempts at control of others’ actions have been a staple of the left. Now conservatives have put the left back in the right. I hate it when the left is right. What used to be a nice escape from the real world, a uniting force in a polarized world, is now an eye-roll-inducing mess. The NFL continues to earn its nickname of the No Fun League, and this time it’s the political right that is doing the damage. The faux-outrage just escalates emotions and hurts your cause, whether you believe the protests are right or wrong.
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