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Wednesday, September 27, 2017


With a pivotal senate primary race in Alabama, with terrorist incidents erupting on a daily basis throughout the (formerly) civilized West, with hurricanes whipping our southern and eastern coasts and much of the Caribbean and attendant devastation, with hourly threats emitting from North Korea's insane government, along with un-kept promises, a half-century crisis in education, affronts to life itself from the abortion and euthanasia lobby, the debt ceiling and a host of other "back-burner" matters rotting our culture, our press and our president seem to be fixated on what a horde of football entertainers are doing during the pre-game National Anthem. Trump is tweeting about it and using it as an applause line during rallies and other speech-making (if you can call Trump's open-ended word chains speeches) and the press, whether for or against, at network levels, local talk shows and conservative radio, are debating it. Families are arguing over Sunday dinner and it is the abrasive subject of water-cooler conversation all week long.


I think kneeling during the national anthem is about as stupid a gesture as a grown man can make. The symbolism itself is confusing, as kneeling normally indicates submission, veneration and even worship. In this context it is supposed to be a symbol of rejection and protest . . . against . . . something or other. Racism. Imperialism? Disparity of wealth? These players have it all – wealth, celebrity status and all the pleasant frills that go with it. They are hardly symbols of anything else.

They earn astounding salaries and bonuses. One would think that if they are totally inarticulate and incapable of forming independent thoughts or following through on real-world projects to promote their values that they would use some of this vast wealth to fund others to do so or contribute to a charity or cause that better embodied practical progress in their special causes. Or possibly, if able, go forth and lend their celebrity to such efforts. But no. Instead, they take to the field like a flock of sheep and protest in a dumb, speechless "demonstration" of kneeling to disrespect the flag and the national anthem and attempt to coerce or trick or otherwise manipulate all their teammates to join them.

Ben Shapiro, among others, has noted that the flag and national anthem are among the few things we all have in common and Shapiro questions why these men do not claim the flag and the nation as their own rather than separate themselves from it. He has a point. Trump has encouraged firings of the players involved and boycotts of football. In the former I disagree – it looks very unhealthy to me to urge firings to punish expression of thought, however nebulous the "thought" may be. In the latter, this, at least, utilizes the free market and free will to show disapproval and encourage the change we want as a majority of patriotic Americans. And, after all, these football clubs are private enterprises (something to remember when our legislators want to use taxpayers' money to fund their arenas). And we should defend an employer's right to hire and fire. Anything else smacks of the Alien and Sedition Acts that brought John Adams down.

It has even been suggested by someone to me that it might be a good time to nationalize football clubs and run them as public properties. I would hope we never see this. While I fully support popular expression of disapproval given freely via boycott, the idea of seizing any kind of property for political reasons is very dangerous.

Maybe we should just quit paying attention to this. Let them give their party and we don't go. Sure, they might escalate their protest. And if they cross the line that protects speech maybe then it would be appropriate to inflict punishment. In the meantime we really ought to give these people just what they deserve – nothing. Quit attending games. If you must watch it on TV, take note of sponsors and write them with your objections and make absolutely sure you don't buy their products. This is all in accord with freedom – the freedom of the marketplace. This Christmas have football-free gift-giving. Make sure that no one involved in this disgusting display is rewarded. Simply stage a symbolic protest of your own.

We really should get back to the important matters such as Trump's betrayal on immigration or the international threat of violence from North Korea. We should be watching Iran or Pakistan instead of immature or possibly brain-damaged football players. I do not denigrate anyone's right to voice an opinion whether or not I agree with it. But this "protest" is vague, pointless and inarticulate and divisive for no practical reason. We would be right to boycott the game this year in general if we are offended (as I am) by this childish behavior. We would be wrong to punish anyone for making a statement or expressing a thought or opinion different from our own. So, yes, boycott the NFL and all their products if you find this "protest" offensive. Just don't call for nationalizing or punishing or firing. Just start doing something else with your time rather than watching it.

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