It isn’t About the Flag. Or Football

Peg Game

I’m not a sports fan. The game pictured above is probably as close as I get. No one in my home reveres Sunday football, none of my kids are athletes. So why am I going to talk about Colin Kaepernick, #taketheknee, and the NFL–how am I qualified to do so?  Because it isn’t about football. I’m not a veteran and neither is anyone else in my home. So how can I discuss the flag and the national anthem? Because it isn’t about the flag, veterans, or the national anthem. Maybe I should shut up because I’m not black. Or maybe I’m thinking that is exactly why I should speak up, so this isn’t yet another issue marginalized as “just a black thing.” It isn’t. This controversy-that-shouldn’t-be-but-needs-to-be is what it means to be an American, what exactly do we want and need it to mean when we say liberty and justice for all. Maybe I have a moral obligation to do this, not in an attempt to speak for the black community–I can’t, shouldn’t, and don’t want to–but to say, as someone with light, freckled, and wrinkly skin, I do not condone the continued oppression of fellow Americans, and support peaceful protest.

Social justice.  Call me an SJW, and when you do, snicker knowing that it took me a long time and a visit to urban dictionary to figure out it stood for social justice warrior. Hey, I was weaned on the Village Voice, so I kept reading it as Single Jewish White what? Male? Female? Genderfluid?  No really, go ahead and sneer as you label me a social justice warrior, I’ll gladly wear that label over racist prick, or worse–complicit and condoning through silence.

Maybe you believe this issue is getting too much play in the media; thinking (rightly) this has gotten more air time than the horrendous disaster that is Puerto Rico right now, or the shocking confirmation that our Presidential election was hacked in 21 states. Maybe you’re tired of hearing about it. If so, think about the reason this started, and imagine living it. Kaepernick began sitting out the anthem as a form of peaceful protest, to bring awareness and discussion to the systemic and systematic oppression of black people in the US, the injustice of police brutality without recourse or justice. He began kneeling after discussion with Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret and current snapper (I don’t know what that means, but it’s something football), told him kneeling was a form of respect paid to fallen soldiers. It was never Kaepernick’s intent to disrespect soldiers and veterans, and is not the intent of the players who have joined his protest. Now remember that the injustice being highlighted goes back long before this Presidency, the current fallout of ignoring climate change, and the internet.

95% of the arguments I’m hearing are bullshit, complete logical fallacies. If you want to support veterans, vote for politicians who want to pay them enough to live on and aren’t trying to take away their health care. Give money or food to that homeless veteran on the corner, don’t complain when shelters and residences are proposed in your neighborhood. If you want to get literal about what the flag represents, start protesting all the companies that use images of the flag to sell their products–stop pretending that red white and blue beach towel with matching bikini is what makes you a patriot, stop using paper plates and napkins with flags imprinted on them designed to be thrown away every fourth of July. No, I’m not a football fan, and don’t understand how being one makes someone a “real” American, but I know it makes a small amount of people a large amount of money, and that certainly is the American way. I also know sports offer opportunities for young people who might not otherwise have equivalent opportunities in other areas, same as joining the armed forces does. 70% of professional football players are black, so yes, this is exactly their issue to raise, and the stadium is an excellent place to raise it.

Colin Kaepernick and the other professional players taking the knee did exactly what used to be the American ideal: to whom much is given, much is expected. They are using their platform as public figures to address a public need.

Football players aren’t being paid to sing the anthem, they’re being paid to play football, which they’re doing. The argument of this being a slur on American traditions is again, bullshit. Standing and pledging didn’t begin until 2009, when players were told to be on the sidelines (instead of in the locker rooms) for the anthem before primetime games, in the hopes that it would encourage in young fans a desire to enlist in the armed forces–because the NFL was paid for this.  In May of 2016, the NFL said no thanks, and returned over $700K declining pay for play patriotism.

Many clever and painfully accurate memes have been going around illustrating the inconsistencies and hypocrisy of this faux outrage, so I won’t keep on this track.  Bottom line, I’d like all these people (45 now pouring kerosene on the flames) to stop pretending this isn’t about race. It is 100% about race, equality and the lack thereof.

The song below was released in 1973, and the inequality raised wasn’t new then. It’s older than that flag so many want to worship, and the game treated as sacred.

10 comments

  1. Today I read that Trump was furious for backing Strange and losing to Moore, or was it the other way around? Doesn’t matter. What matters is, I read that and then read that he was so furious because backing the losing horse was, in Trump’s eyes, an affront to his “brand,” and I’m thinking, REALLY? We’re ascribing BRAND to the President of the United States of America? BRAND? As if he’s a commodity. A money-making machine. As if brand matters. As if we should care about the guy and how he views himself.

    I don’t care, not one iota. Everything, every word that comes out of that man’s mouth is spoken to flame the fire somehow. To rile things up. To splinter. To divide. To hurt. To stoke his own insanely bloated ego. There is nothing, NOTHING, Donald Trump says or does that is for the betterment of this country and its people.

    This isn’t about race. Not about patriotism. This is about Donald Trump doing what he does best: destroying the fabric of democracy and decency and fairness. Ruining everything that is–was–good. Fanning a fire that could destroy us all.

    I believe in equity and in freedom of expression, and while I want to respect the flag and all it represents, right now, standing or kneeling during the anthem, or “showing respect” for our flag, are the least of our worries. “Patriotism” is the least of our worries. We have a president who does NOTHING to bridge the gaps that divide us–on the contrary, he is doing everything he can to widen those gaps. His rhetoric, his rants and antics, his choices…they all serve a singular purpose: To build Donald Trump up, in his own sick mind. And because Donald Trump is a small man, a needy man, a man without conscience, creativity, brains or vision, the only way he can do that is by tearing down everything around him, no matter the consequences. No matter the cost.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know we completely agree about 45, and yes, I think he’s thrilled to have any excuse to promote that us vs them mentality.
      That said, I think it’s important we not lose sight that this is an issue of race and equality that long predates him. The stomach turning aspect is that he is making this worse, openly legitimizing hate and oppression, and if we don’t all stand up and say, NO. We will not accept this, our broken country will be fractured beyond recognition, beyond hope.

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      1. You’re right, of course. The serious and pressing issues facing us today, including racial inequality/police brutality, have been issues for a long, long time. We need to to acknowledge those truths. And kneeling during the anthem is one way to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, in a peaceful way that makes a point and steps on nobody’s constitutional rights.

        In retrospect, the problem isn’t Trump. He’s just making the problem worse. The problem is US. Our Us vs. Them mindset. Our mistrust of Other, of Different. Our hate, fear, and greed.

        How can any of that go away when it is being spewed as vitriol by our president, and celebrated by his adoring fans, and regurgitated in the media, and modeled and taught to our children? Unless we, the people get our personal and collective acts together, until we are willing to say, We are all members of the human race first; we are all brothers and sisters first; we need each other; we are all we have. . .

        I don’t know, Mrs. Fringe. I truly do not know.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I don’t know either, kk. I’m a cynical gal to begin with, thinking about the latest insanity who won the nomination there in Alabama makes me wonder if there really is any hope left. Russian help/interference shouldn’t be downplayed, but people *wanted* this. Millions of people. 😦

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  2. The saving grace there is that millions don’t, Mrs. Fringe. Millions care. Millions hope. Millions are willing do what they can to turn the tide. We can’t do it alone so instead, we link arms. We kneel. We write to our elected officials. We vote. We teach our kids to be good people. Thoughtful people. We speak out against unjustice. We refuse to tolerate hate. We extend a hand, open a dialologue, listen to each other.

    It really is all for one and one for all. There are those who get that and those that don’t, not yet. I do apologize for the hopeless tone of my last response. Sometimes we need to step back, take stock, count our blessings. Maybe even have a little faith.

    Telling that to myself tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the way these football guys are using their mediatic power to send a powerful message. far more effective than any word they could say. Like you I’m not a sport fan but so many Americans are that they have to watch these young men and if they can reflect on their choice, this is all good with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. It’s funny, I’ve seen many comments from those pretending this is an attack on the flag referencing “men paid millions to play a child’s game.” As you say, I’m no sport fan, but it seems to me these men are the adults making an adult choice.

      Liked by 1 person

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