By Dan Camilli
In yet another attempt to distract from his tumultuous and dangerously dysfunctional presidency, Donald Trump has now targeted the National Football League.
Rather than address serious issues such as healthcare or infrastructure, the Grifter – in –Chief’s latest “attack and distract” target is the practice by some NFL players of taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality, especially the killing of unarmed African Americans. Taking a knee during the anthem was famously started by the courageous Colin Kaepernick, then QB of the SF 49ers, who recently filed a collusion grievance with the players association charging team owners with denying him a job because of his protest.
A textbook example of narrative co-opting, Trump is claiming that the protest is disrespectful of the flag and military, which is, of course, entirely false. In fact, it was former Seattle Seahawks player and Green Beret Nate Boyer who convinced Kaepernick to take a knee rather than sit during the anthem as it is considered a sign of respect for a fallen comrade. “Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect.” says Boyer.
Unfortunately, the “Trumped” up issue has had the desired divisive effect as Trump has hijacked the narrative and pressured NFL owners and other sports leagues to force players to stand for the anthem. Public opinion is deeply divided on the issue as well. However, Trump fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations.
While the accusations of disrespect for the flag are fictional, the issue of police killing unarmed blacks is all too real. According to a 2015 study by The Guardian, unarmed blacks are twice as likely to be killed by police as whites. And minorities make up nearly two -thirds of unarmed people killed by police. (SOURCE: US Census, The Counted, 1 January-31 May 2015).
Many veterans and active military personnel have spoken out in defence of Kaepernick, affirming that they took an oath to defend not the flag, but the constitution and everyone’s First Amendment right to free speech.
An effective protest, according to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., must create “a type of constructive nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.” Making people uncomfortable is the point. This is precisely the kind of tension created by Kaepernick’s simple gesture. If people taking a knee during the national anthem makes you uncomfortable, imagine how uncomfortable it must be to get shot by police when pulled over for a faulty tail light. Rosa Parks was not about the bus. The Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in was not about the food. And Kaepernick’s taking a knee is not about the flag. As always, it’s about calling attention to social injustice and demanding that it be redressed. All people of good will and moral conscience must resolve to take a knee in solidarity with Kaepernick, then rise up in fierce defence of social, economic and political justice and in steadfast nonviolent resistance to this mercurial, prevaricating president. We must not permit a morally malnourished man who won the White House by fanning the flames of division to recklessly pitch our constitutional rights and hard earned civil liberties into the funeral pyre. Defy the lie.
Copyright © 2017 by Dan Camilli All Rights Reserved