Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Let's rip the band-aid off, America.

From the day this country was founded, it has always been more acceptable to be a racist than to protest racism.

Think about that.

The founding principle of this country wasn't freedom for all. We all know that. It's still not a basic principle of this country.

It never has been.

So when NFL players kneel during the national anthem to protest the cancer that rots this country, and people are angry at them, I go thermonuclear. Which is why I haven't written about this until now, because I just couldn't do it with any sense of control.

What's interesting, to me, is how the sequence of events unfolding now has been the same for centuries in America. Let's have a look, and note that the language used isn't that different from what was used during the civil rights protests in the 1960s.

Step One: NFL players protest racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. Very simple.
Step Two: The response totally avoids even mentioning the reason for the protest, and will always focus on three words:

These three words are so sadly inept that I almost burst out laughing while I typed them. Let's explore.

"Disrespectful"--Wait, what would "respectful" protest look like? I'm certain that very few people who have this objection could even formulate a response to that question. It's ludicrous on its face.
"Inappropriate"--This is certainly a magic word, because anything can be labeled inappropriate, no matter the action or the venue. Why is protest supposed to be "appropriate", anyway?
"Unpatriotic"--This is the best. This is when the deepest strain of ugly authoritarianism that we have in this country rears its head. Look, it wouldn't have to be kneeling during the national anthem for a protest to get this label. For many people, the act of protesting is, by definition, unpatriotic.

Another word that gets bandied about is "ungrateful", which has serious racial overtones when used about African Americans (or any other minority group).

What's particularly disturbing is that so many people don't seem to understand that protest is, in its own way, a form of patriotism. That's how this country is supposed to work!

I've seen so many NFL owners and commentators use these buzzwords to describe the protest, and not one of them has, at any point, addressed the substance of what's being protested. The criminal justice system, from police to prosecutors to judges, is savagely unequal in this country, and there is overwhelming evidence to support that belief.

But hey, that's not the problem here. The protest is the problem.

There's obviously a racial component here. Some of the comments Jerry Jones has made, in particular, sound like a barely-disguised version of "The help is gettin' uppity here." This is the same Jerry Jones who played on an all-white Arkansas Razorbacks team that won the national championship in 1964.

Would they have won that championship with an all-white team if college football had been integrated back then? Hell, no. Jones himself has been a gigantic beneficiary of white privilege, of not having to compete on an equal footing.

Something else worth noting here is that silent protest can be very, very powerful, and deeply unsettling. Why else would so many people totally lose their shit over people kneeling during the national anthem, but not be upset by the persistent, endemic racism that has plagued this country for centuries?

At this point, with what has happened in this country's history, and with what's happening now, I'm not surprised that people are kneeling.

I'm surprised that people are standing.

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