I really did. I thought to myself, “Self, I’m not gonna say anything about it. There’s no sense wading into political waters because you’ll just drown in them.”
But I can’t ignore it. Everyone is talking about it. It was all over the news today. And yesterday. And the day before. All over my Facebook feed. It’s everywhere I fucking look. I can’t escape it. It’s like trying to run away from the sun.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag,” Trump said, “to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’ ”
Unfortunately, many people agree with him. They are going to quit watching the NFL if players don’t stop protesting, apparently. They are going to boycott the games. The NFL will no longer get their money.
It’s funny. A majority of right-leaning folks refer to “social justice warriors” (which is one of the dumbest terms I’ve ever heard) as snowflakes, which infers that they overreact to every little thing and are insanely sensitive. Yet here are these same people threatening to boycott the NFL and rallying around their huge tangerine leader as he calls for NFL owners to fire players who kneel during the National Anthem.
That’s right, our president is advocating private citizens to fire other private citizens for exercising their freedom of speech.
Of course, it’s an NFL owner’s prerogative to do so, if they so choose. After all, freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequence. Still, it is a highly unprofessional act from someone occupying the most prestigious office in the world. But that’s how it goes with Trump. He’s all class.
For the last year this debate has raged on. Colin Kaepernick was caught sitting during the National Anthem and people went beserk. He’s disrespecting the military! He’s not oppressed! Keep politics out of football! He’s disrespecting the soldiers who died protecting the flag!
Kaepernick then started kneeling as a concession. He respected that people in the military have a high regard for the flag and anthem, but he still didn’t feel okay with honoring the symbol for a nation whose claim of “liberty and justice for all” rang hollow. He wasn’t going to stand for an anthem that didn’t ring true for all Americans. Several players joined him. Several more have carried on this season. And people are still losing their shit.
And I don’t get it.
He’s disrespecting the military!
No, he’s not. He and the other players are protesting social injustice and police brutality.
I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder. – Colin Kaepernick
That is why he was protesting. That is why other players continue to protest.
He’s not oppressed!
He never claimed to be.
“This stand wasn’t for me. This is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice, people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard, and effect change. So I’m in the position where I can do that and I’m going to do that for people that can’t.” – Colin Kaepernick
Keep politics out of football!
He never meant to bring them into football. He was just sitting on the bench during the anthem when a picture of him sitting went out on Twitter. Twitter then blew it up. And the media ran wild with it.
Keep in mind, though, that NFL players are American citizens, too. They have political beliefs. They have causes about which they care. They have the same rights as you and I. These players are protesting for the cause of equality, and I just can’t understand how anyone can have a problem with that. After all, don’t all of us “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal?”
He’s disrespecting the soldiers who died protecting the flag!
This is the one that gets me. The American flag belongs to our entire nation. It represents every citizen. It represents the rights and freedoms we’re all (allegedly) supposed to enjoy. It does not strictly belong to the military. It does not strictly belong to the police. It doesn’t strictly belong to anyone who serves this nation in any capacity, but rather all citizens of this nation.
It belongs to every homeless person wasting away on our streets.
It belongs to every rape victim whose attacker was never brought to justice because he was a celebrity.
It belongs to the slaves who built the foundation of this country.
It belongs to every person (black, white, or otherwise) unjustly killed by a cop who was then acquitted of murder charges or, even worse, never even charged.
It belongs to every woman told to get back in the kitchen.
It belongs to every veteran who can’t get the health care he or she needs from the VA after they’ve served.
It belongs to every victim of child abuse.
It belongs to every college graduate suffocating under a blanket of student loans they’ll be paying off the rest of their lives.
It belongs to every victim of domestic abuse.
It belongs to every recipient of a racial slur.
It belongs to the Native Americans butchered by our military so we could take their land.
It belongs to legal citizens born in another country who are told to “go fix your own country.”
It belongs to every homosexual bullied right into suicide.
It belongs to every baby born with a drug addiction.
It also belongs to the privileged who’ve never endured any sort of hardship because of their gender, race, or sexual orientation.
It belongs to us all.
I completely respect the sacrifices of every person who has served this country whether it be in the military, police force, Coast Guard, or fireman. It takes a lot of guts and dedication to put their lives on the line to protect the lives and rights of us all, and they should be commended for that and their efforts celebrated. Having said that, however, the American flag isn’t their sole property. It belongs to every…American…citizen.
One of the rights so many of our soldiers fought to protect, or died protecting, is the right to protest. Or peacefully assemble. Anyone who claims to respect the military in any fashion should understand that and respect those exercising that right. Protesting injustice is not disrespectful. It’s American. Our nation was born out of protest. That tea didn’t dump itself into the Boston Harbor…
So let’s get a little perspective here, shall we? In the grand scheme of things who are the handful of players who kneel during the anthem hurting? Why all the outrage? Are you upset to see the unity from a minority? Is it the fear of white domination being threatened? And where, exactly, was all this outrage a month ago when we saw actual Nazis marching the streets of Charleston? I mean, a lot of people criticized president Trump for not condemning them, but why weren’t the American people condemning them? I mean, we had Nazis in our country, on national television, a month ago and there wasn’t even a quarter of the outrage about that as there has been for some folks who play a game for a living protesting during the National Anthem. What the fuck?
Dear white people, as one of you I’m asking you to shut the fuck up and listen to what people of other races have to say. It’s not all about you. Just because you don’t see something happening doesn’t actually mean it’s not happening. If a black man tells you he’s being discriminated against, odds are he probably is. When a cop uses excessive force to kill a citizen we should all be concerned whether that citizen is black, white, or other. That is not a police officer’s job. And I hear you when you say that a police officer has a right to defend himself if he’s being attacked, but in these high-profile, media-crazed situations that’s rarely been the case. Police officers are trained, or should be, to subdue people without shooting them. Pulling out a gun is the very last thing an officer should resort to, but it seems like one of the first things many of them do.
Let’s change the tone of the conversation around these protests from “quit doing that” to “how can we make this better?”. Minorities are trying to tell us there’s a problem and we’re not listening. Not only are we not listening, we’re bitching about their concerns. Imagine for a second that someone mistreated you and you confronted them about it. Imagine when you did so that person shrugged and said, “Not my problem. I don’t wanna hear about it.” Boy, that would suck, wouldn’t it? That’s what we’re doing, collectively. So let’s, as they say in kindergarten, put on our listening ears. Less talking, more listening. Through listening we can reach understanding. Through understanding we can resolve differences. When differences are resolved we can live in harmony. And things just sound much better when they’re in harmony.