Anthemgate

Rich Galen begins by telling the story of how we got to yesterday:

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to sit during the traditional playing of the National Anthem during last year’s pre-season games. Kaepernick said, when asked about his then one-man protest:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Over time, as happens so often, it is not the issue Kaepernick was protesting that has become the source of dispute, but the fact that he and others are protesting at all.

The thing about protests is, they don’t do much until they do become the focus of the discussion.

Rosa Parks first got thrown off a bus in 1943 for entering through the front, and not the rear, door.

But, we didn’t know about that at the time. In 1955 she was arrested for having violated Alabama law by refusing to give up her seat to a White man when the bus was full.

“I did not get on the bus to get arrested; I got on the bus to go home.”By then she was a member of the NAACP which took up her cause and the Civil Rights movement in the United States got a huge boost. And, the 1943 incident became part of the Rosa Parks story.

For the half-century since Rosa Parks was arrested, the Civil Rights Movement has been at least as much of a point of disagreement as civil rights themselves.

Is Colin Kaepernick the NFL equivalent of Rosa Parks? Those are the kinds of things you can’t know until well after the fact.

We do know that Kaepernick was not released by the 49ers for his actions. He, in effect, released himself this past March when he opted out of his contract to become a free agent.

Whether he is still a free agent because of his actions is a matter of some discussion on sports talk programs across the nation.

The other night – also in Alabama – Donald Trump told a political crowd, according to CNN’s report:

“Team owners should fire players for taking a knee during the national anthem. Trump added that if fans would ‘leave the stadium’ when players kneel in protest during the national anthem, ‘I guarantee, things will stop.'”

Sounded just like Voltaire.

Before Sunday’s early games just about every team had some players who stood, some who kneeled, some who sat on the bench and one – the Pittsburgh Steelers – stayed off the field until the Anthem was finished.

In the NFL game played in London (9:30 AM Eastern time) several players on both sides knelt for the National Anthem, but they all stood for “God Save the Queen.”

SIDEBAR

Maybe that’s the answer. Play “God Save the Queen” before every NFL Game just like they did before 1776.

END SIDEBAR

… Unlike Rosa Parks – and many other Civil Rights leaders – no NFL player is likely to be arrested, attacked with a fire hose, or lynched.

For his part, Donald Trump got back on Air Force One after his speech, glowing with self-appreciation on the ride back to Washington, DC, reinforced by his staff chattering like a group of bad angels perched on his shoulder: “You were terrific, tonight.”

Thus, reinforcing Trump’s bad behavior.

Do I agree with these protests? No. Nor, do I agree with Donald Trump’s taunting the players because of them.

I have, in fact, put my life at risk to defend the players’ right to protest, and for Donald Trump to be able to continue acting like Donald Trump.

And, so have many of you.

As far as Kaepernick and his lack of employment are concerned: Every time I see someone saying the NFL needs to stop blackballing Kaepernick, I ask whether that person would want his team to sign him. I have yet to get an answer.

This could be said to be one giant diversionary tactic on the part of Trump and the NFL. Trump is trying to rev up his base, perhaps to divert attention on what he hasn’t accomplished — the Mexican wall, immigration reform (whatever his position is on that today), ending ObamaCare, cutting taxes, cutting the federal debt, ending the North Korean and Iran threats, stomping out radical Islam, and all the other things he promised and has so far failed to deliver upon. (Those are Congress’ fault? That’s not something a leader would complain about.) Trump accomplished nothing to Make America Great Again through inserting himself into something he should have stayed out of.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said this …

“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month,” Goodell said in the statement.

“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”

… perhaps to get everyone’s attention away from the claim by the attorney for NFL tight end-turned-murderer Aaron Hernandez that he had severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which doesn’t put football in a very good light. The NFL is also being cynical by making players stand on the field for the National Anthem when it could deflate this issue by having the players in the locker room while it is played (as used to be the case).

Facebook Friend Kevin Binversie says:

No doubt most Americans agree with Mr. Trump that they don’t want their flag disrespected, especially by millionaire athletes. But Mr. Trump never stops at reasonable, and so he called for kneeling players to be fired or suspended, and if the league didn’t comply for fans to “boycott” the NFL.

He also plunged into the debate over head injuries without a speck of knowledge about the latest brain science, claiming that the NFL was “ruining the game” by trying to stop dangerous physical hits. This is the kind of rant you’d hear in a lousy sports bar.

Mr. Trump has managed to unite the players and owners against him, though several owners supported him for President and donated to his inaugural. The owners were almost obliged to defend their sport, even if their complaints that Mr. Trump was “divisive” ignored the divisive acts by Mr. Kaepernick and his media allies that injected politics into football in the first place.

Americans don’t begrudge athletes their free-speech rights—see the popularity of Charles Barkley —but disrespecting the national anthem puts partisanship above a symbol of nationhood that thousands have died for. Players who chose to kneel shouldn’t be surprised that fans around the country booed them on Sunday. This is the patriotic sentiment that they are helping Mr. Trump exploit for what he no doubt thinks is his own political advantage.

American democracy was healthier when politics at the ballpark was limited to fans booing politicians who threw out the first ball—almost as a bipartisan obligation. This showed a healthy skepticism toward the political class. But now the players want to be politicians and use their fame to lecture other Americans, the parsons of the press corps want to make them moral spokesmen, and the President wants to run against the players.

The losers are the millions of Americans who would rather cheer for their teams on Sunday as a respite from work and the other divisions of American life.

I understand that this is not technically a First Amendment issue, because the NFL is the employer of all the protesting players, and the First Amendment protects us from government abrogation of free expression. It is certainly an issue in the spirit of the First Amendment, however. (How many people would like to be fired from their employer for doing a non-work activity on work time, such as picking up a child from school, making a personal phone call, or, heaven forbid, making a social media post during work hours?) I also understand that the First Amendment doesn’t include protections from the consequences of someone’s free expression. But on the other hand, the First Amendment doesn’t protect anyone from being offended or feeling disrespected at someone else’s free expression.

Trump fails again here because, unlike everyone else in this idiocy, the president swears to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” That includes the First Amendment rights of those who disagree with him.

It is also true that the U.S. flag is not Donald Trump. (Thank heavens.) I don’t think kneeling is necessarily disrespect. Sitting, as four Packer players did during the National Anthem before Sunday’s Bengals–Packers heart attack — I mean football game — is disrespect, intended or not.

The U.S. flag and the National Anthem frankly are less important than the U.S. Constitution is to this country. Ask yourself this question: What if the United States of America was a Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton/Charles Schumer/Nancy Pelosi wet dream, where the government took every dollar of our work, gave conservatives no right to free expression, allowed us no gun rights, gave us no rights against unreasonable search and seizure and self-incrimination, and didn’t let us elect our leaders? Would you still love your country if it wasn’t worth loving?

Facebook Friend Michael Smith lays out the myriad stupidities:

Fact 1: The “kneeling” fad started with the San Francisco 49ers and this “protest” has spread to the NBA via the Golden State Warriors and MLB’s Oakland A’s. What do all these teams have in common? They are all from California, specifically the San Francisco Bay Area, where social justice warrioring is less of a hobby and more of a full time job.

Fact 2: The paradox of the wealthy progressive is at play. The “protesters” are by and large, a very privileged group – being millionaire athletes. Their very existence disproves their premise that America is inherently racist.

Fact 3: These “protests” are narcissistic. The leader of the Golden State Social Justice Warrior basketball team’s opposition to “racism” is Steph Curry – the son of a millionaire former NBA player, Dell Curry. Steph went to private schools as a kid and to college on a full ride scholarship (even though his family was of significant financial means) due to his on-the-court skills and who, in June of this year, signed a 5-year, $201 million dollar deal. People accuse Trump of being a narcissist (with good reason) but these protests by highly compensated athletes reek of narcissism as well.

Fact 4: The “protesters” cannot seem to articulate what it is that they are actually protesting other than to mumble a bunch of generalities ending with the word “Trump.” The “protests” are also dripping in hypocrisy – athletes feel free to directly attack certain people but when they catch a little return fire, they claim to be the victims. Yesterday, Curry was quoted as saying:

“It’s surreal, to be honest. I don’t know why he feels the need to target certain individuals, rather than others. I have an idea of why, but it’s kind of beneath a leader of a country to go that route. That’s not what leaders do.”

These “protests” aren’t principled – they are purely political. Curry quipped, “I’ve played golf with President Obama,” Curry said. “I’m pretty sure I won’t get a tee time invite during this regime.”

No doubt where Steph stands.

Look, I sort of agree with Curry about one thing – that this is beneath the Presidency – what Steph Curry, Colin Kaepernick or Bruce Maxwell think should not occupy one second of his time. By and large, the professional sports market is just that, it is a market for people with very specific talents, primarily talents possessed by minorities but other than for entertainment, professional sports is inconsequential to the pressing issues of this country. That is why I think it was beneath the office for Trump to engage in a petty and stupid fight with privileged millionaire pro athletes about fake issues.

Facebook Friend Devin Rhys adds three more points:

1. A lot of people whining about have never been in the military and are using the military to justice their snowflake whining. We didnt serve to protect speech everyone loves. We served to protect the speech everyone hates.

2. A lot of people supporting the protests (players and such) arent brave. Doing something that everyone else is doing is being a sheep, not being brave. The Army ranger in Pittsburgh is more of a hero than anyone kneeling could ever be. …

4. President Trump was a jackass for making this bigger than it was. This entire weekend was his fault.

(Yes, the order was correct. Devin is a 49ers fan, and points three and five were about his sad-sack team.)

It was pointed out in our own house that all the NFL Anthem kneelers are accomplishing nothing by their protests. And they’re not. In fact, as Kennedy Democrat Vince Lombardi put it:

“Our society, at the present time, seems to have sympathy only for the misfit, the ne’er-do well, the maladjusted, the criminal, the loser. It is time to stand up for the doer, the achiever, the one who sets out to do something and does it. The one who recognizes the problems and opportunities at hand, and deals with them, and is successful, and is not worrying about the failings of others. The one who is constantly looking for more to do. The one who carries the work of the world on his shoulders.”

Protesters aren’t really doing that merely by protesting.

The real bottom line comes from Facebook Friend Nathan Schacht:

The Packers made $441 million in revenue last year, $244 million came from national TV revenue. Until those advertisers care, the NFL won’t.

Facebook Friend Jason Wisniewski adds (capital letters his):

Out of 1696 players in the NFL only 43 protest the national anthem. That is less than 3%. Over 97% of players DON’T protest. Teams like the VIKINGS, COWBOYS & LIONS to name a few have ZERO players protesting.

I am not going to let less than 3% of players ruin the sport I grew up on and love that keeps me sane. I will NOT boycott the entire NFL over this.

He lost his way by rooting for a Packer rival after that, but he started in the right direction. There is already too much politics in our world, and it’s quite unfortunate that Trump decided to insert more politics into sports.

My Facebook feed was full of promises Sunday to never watch the Packers or the NFL again. Why do you care? Why do you care what Kaepernick thinks, or any of the Packers, or Trump, or Goodell, or what any other celebrity (and politicians are unfortunately celebrities) thinks on this or any other issue? I honestly do not care what NFL players do during the National Anthem, or their reasons for standing, kneeling, sitting, raising fists or anything else.

This is the latest sad example of where we have sunk to as a country, when someone else’s free expression is an affront to yourself if it represents a point of view contrary to yours.

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