This weekend saw yet another aspect of American society become politicized. President Donald Trump kicked off the festivities when he called NFL players who were not standing for the national anthem “sons of bitches” and said they should be fired. Many NFL players responded by either sitting or kneeling for the national anthem. Among the players that protested were 10 New Orleans Saints players.
In response, our publisher Scott McKay announced he was boycotting the NFL. So did Hayride alum Dan Fagan in his Advocate column today. While I stand for the national anthem and salute the flag, I won’t be joining a boycott of the NFL. Sports is one of the non-political things I enjoy and I’m not giving it up because Trump and NFL players want to interject politics into this.
The truth is there was no need for these protests to reach this point. This weekend was the result of a lack of judgment by both President Trump and NFL players. There’s not much more I can add to what both Owen Courreges and James Hartman wrote yesterday.
This weekend’s culture war skirmish distresses me for one major reason. It’s a reminder that we as Americans have forgotten how to communicate and persuade one another.
I’m all for protesting against racism and police brutality against African-Americans. Sign me up for helping to improve the conditions of black and brown people in this country. It’s a worthy cause to support. But I do have to ask who seriously believes that protesting the national anthem is an effective means of protest? We’re not talking about police brutality or the treatment of African-Americans, which is why these players are protesting. Instead, we’re talking about the act of not standing for the national anthem. It’s going to be a political loser.
Even this weekend’s protests were not enough for the social justice crowd. Some dolt wrote in the Huffington Post today that white football players who stand for the anthem are white supremacists.
We need to learn how to have hard and difficult conversations as a country. One of those difficult topics is race. We need to realize that for some people of color America has never been great. This nation will not live up to its ideals until it is great for all.
On the other hand, we need to have an honest conversation. The truth is that blacks are more likely to be both the perpetrators and victims of crime. We need to rebuild relations between police and the African-American community. Hopefully, many of these protesting athletes will use their platform to help build those necessary bridges.
Finally, should we fire NFL players who don’t stand for the national anthem? Personally, I don’t think so. Life is all about being subjected to opinions that make us uncomfortable. Besides, I would rather know who is stupid enough to protest the national anthem.
Having said that though, I disagree with calling these players anti-American. I think they do love this country enough to see it live up to its ideals. I just believe they are attracting attention to themselves the wrong way.
What we have is a failure to communicate. We have become a nation of snowflakes who cannot talk to or empathize with each other. As a country, we need to remind ourselves what really makes America great and we need to work towards it together. The only way to do that is to open our ears and hearts to one another as Americans again.