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Posts Tagged ‘TAKING A KNEE’

THE EYE VERSUS THE HAND IN “TAKING A KNEE”

In Business, Entertainment, History, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on June 11, 2018 at 12:05 am

To understand the ongoing war between President Donald Trump and the National Football League, you need to first read a crucial passage in Niccolo Machiavelli’s classic work, The Prince

“…For men in general judge more by the eyes than by the hands, for every one can see, but very few have to feel.  Everyone sees what you appear to be, few feel what you are….”

What is taking place is a symbolic war—with football players literally “taking a knee” on one side and with Trump and his Republican minions symbolically waving the Stars and Stripes on the other.

For players, “taking a knee” during the playing of the National Anthem before the start of a football game means protesting against racial injustice and police brutality aimed at blacks.   

For the Right, refusing to stand for “The Star Spangled Banner” is unpatriotic, perhaps bordering on treason. They claim it’s insulting to the military—and especially those soldiers who have died in America’s wars.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first took a knee on August 14, 2016. 

During the 49ers’ first game of the pre-season, Kaepernick sat on the bench during the National Anthem both then and in their next game.  

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Colin Kaepernick

On August 26, he did so again. The next day, he explained his reason for it: “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.”  

The 49ers issued a statement: “We recognise the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the National Anthem.” 

On August 29, Trump—still a Presidential candidate—thrust himself into the budding controversy: “I think it’s personally not a good thing. I think it’s a terrible thing. And, you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try. It won’t happen.” 

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Donald Trump

One year later, on August 12, 2017, Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat for the anthem during preseason, on his first game back post-retirement. 

The next day, Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett sat for the anthem. He gave as his reason the “Unite the Right” rally of white racists in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

On September 17, Trump—now President—told a rally in Alabama that refusing to sing the National Anthem showed “disrespect of our heritage. Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired.'” 

On September 23, Trump, on Twitter, called for NFL players who “disrespect our great American flag” to be fired. Later on in the day, he called for a boycott of the NFL. 

On September 24, infuriated by Trump’s insults, NFL players across the country linked arms, took a knee, or stayed in the changing room during the National Anthem. Every game featured some form of demonstration.

Washington Redskins Kneeling

By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Washington Redskins National Anthem Kneeling) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Since then, the confrontation between players “taking a knee” and Trump and his Right-wing shills has mushroomed. 

Yet these protests have not led one police department to change its “use-of-deadly-force” policies. Blacks are still getting shot by trigger-happy police, often when they’re unarmed and unresisting   

During 2017, there were 987 fatal police shootings; 223 blacks were shot and killed by police (23% of all fatal shootings), and 68 of the victims were unarmed. 

In the wake of the controversy, these shootings have been largely forgotten and it is the kneeling players who are getting the media’s attention

These players’ celebrity could be put to far better use by appearing before legislative committees urging reforms in police “use-of-deadly-force” policies.

Also ignored is that Trump, for all his boasts of patriotism, was a five-deferment draft dodger during the Vietnam war. Four deferments cited academic reasons and the fifth cited bone spurs—which usually result in small pointed outgrowths of bone—in his heels. 

But there is one more factor that overshadows both of these truths:  There is no reason to play “The Star Spangled Banner” at football games—or any other sports event

The song celebrates the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships in Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key, an amateur poet, witnessed the attack and was inspired the next morning when he saw the United States flag still flying triumphantly over the fort. 

Yet there is nothing inherently patriotic about attending any sports game:

  • The country isn’t being threatened.
  • No one is risking anything in its defense.
  • There are no casualties (save those suffered by athletes earning kingly salaries).
  • No one’s life is made any better by watching the game.

And “standing for the National Anthem” is an easy and safe way to present yourself as a patriot. American history is filled with men who “wrapped themselves in the flag” only to betray the Constitutional liberties of their fellow citizens.

This conflict of symbols arouses tempers, but otherwise achieves nothing.

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