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The NFL’s policy statement about the national anthem protests, released Wednesday, was nothing more than a public relations stunt and an admonishment of ideals consistent with patriotism.
Because of it, I won’t be watching in 2018-19.
The league announced Wednesday that players who knelt during the national anthem would incur a fine for their teams, which the team then could pass on to its players. The league said this was about showing “respect for the flag and the Anthem (sic).”
That’s a simple-minded view of a bigger concept which the bulk of fans, the sponsors and the league have apparently missed. The league, and certain politicians, have complained that the players apparently didn’t support America. One particular politician has even gone so far to imply that those who don’t stand for the anthem shouldn’t be in the country.
Fatal police shootings of unarmed people in general are declining, but that is not what Colin Kaepernick and others have been protesting. Nor have they been protesting the national anthem itself, as they have said repeatedly.
What they have protested is the disproportionate use of force by police against black people. We as a country are created among a number of ideals, and one of the most central ones is that when our government wrongs us, we have a right to petition those grievances via peaceful, nonviolent protest, both of which the protests by these NFL players have been. I dare even say that when we realize we need to fix something about ourselves as a nation, we have not just the right but the ethical obligation to protest it, peacefully and nonviolently of course.
That is what Kaepernick and others have done. They have not taken a stand against the national anthem or the idea of patriotism, they have exemplified both.
It is actually possible to love America and also see there are things we as a culture need to change about ourselves to be better.
It is also possible to support, admire, appreciate and respect our law-enforcement officers, but to also believe that when an officer uses excessive force against an unarmed black person, or against anyone else for that matter, they should be prosecuted like any other citizen.
You can believe America is great, but also realize statistics show there is still work to be done. The Washington Post has been tracking deadly police shootings since 2015. They have a unique little tool you can find by clicking here.
In a recent article, The Post wrote about what statistics say is going on, and their data seems to justify the reasons NFL players are protesting.
“Since The Post began tracking fatal police shootings, blacks have been shot and killed at rates significantly higher than their percentage of the overall U.S. population. Blacks make up about 13 percent of the population but 23 percent of those fatally shot by police since 2015. For shootings of unarmed people, blacks were 36 percent of those killed,” according to the article.
Yet certain politicians and the NFL seem to believe there is no issue here, or if there is one it’s a secondary priority.
League officials seem to believe that because their fans consider these protests about the national anthem instead of the actual issue, it needs to infringe upon the ethical obligations of its employees to protest.
As a private business, this is perhaps their legal right, but it certainly isn’t their ethical one.
No amount of public-relations showmanship, not even announcing this ahead of Memorial Day weekend, can change the fact that this has everything to do with money, and nothing to do with patriotism.