I’ve been thinking about the NFL players disrespecting our flag and our country. Apart from the fact that I find their chosen form of protest extremely offensive, I have several other problems with it.
I decided to do some research about what precisely they are protesting, and by precisely, I mean something more than vague references to racism and oppression and police brutality. Obviously, as an all-American slice of Wonderbread, I have no way of knowing what it means to be a black man in America today, or what day-to-day issues black people face, so I decided to rely on what the players themselves had to say. Unfortunately, there is very little to find.
Colin Kaepernick has a website for his foundation that has the following mission statement: “The mission of the Colin Kaepernick Foundation is to fight oppression of all kinds globally through education and social activism.”
While that is laudable on the face of it, it is unfortunately so childishly and hopelessly vague as to be completely meaningless. It’s like saying you support world peace. Who doesn’t?
Other public statements I was able to find by other players are also equally vague, so I fell back on an article from Sports Illustrated that condensed Mr. Kaepernick’s stance down to protesting racism and oppression and police brutality, which left me very little better off than I was before I tried to do my research.
I’m not going to address the racism because these days it works both ways and I find both equally offensive. The white people who feel, show, or express racism are just as crude and moronic as the black people who feel, show, or express racism, and both manage to create their own belief support system to carry them on, so nothing I might say is going remedy that.
Oppression I have a hard time taking seriously (to “oppress” means to persecute or subjugate by unjust use of force or authority) in the wake of eight years of a black president, and with three black incumbent US Senators and forty-five black incumbent US Representatives in Congress, especially when that word is used by men with an average salary of $2,000,000.00 per annum.
So that brings us to police brutality, which I what I suspect the NFL players mean when they use the word “oppression.” Again, I have no way of judging what it means to a black man or woman in America today, but I am not interested in anecdotal evidence. We all have our various personal experiences, pro or con, that color our view of the world, but personal or second-hand stories do not equate to reality or to society as a whole. So what we all have to fall back on are the statistics for law enforcement compiled by the FBI and available to all in their Uniform Crime Report.
The percentages break down into 68.9% of all arrests, for all crimes, are white people, while 28.3% are black people, with native American, Asian, and “other” making up the negligible rest. In fact, in all categories of crime, with the exception of violent crime, whites comprise the majority of arrests. Since, as of 2016, whites are still the majority in America, with blacks being the largest racial minority with 13.3% (Latinos and Hispanics are considered a white ethnic minority) that isn’t too surprising. Unfortunately, the paradigm shifts when it comes to violent crime, with young black men accounting for 52.2% of all arrests for murder and non-negligent homicide and 56.4% of all arrests for robbery. However, when it comes to police shootings, almost twice as many white men are shot by police than black men. If you adjust for population percentages only, yes, a greater percentage of black men are shot by police, but if you also adjust for violent crimes by race, it skews the rate back again. Police go where the crime is.
But apart from the disparity between perception and reality by black football players, what really bothers me about this is the NFL’s reaction to the protests. In 2016, when five police officers were murdered in Dallas, Texas by a black racist who stated he wished to murder white people and white police officers in particular, the NFL ruled that the Dallas Cowboys could not honor the five murdered officers by wearing decals on their helmets. Yet now, they deem it acceptable for players to kneel or sit or otherwise disrespect the American flag and the men and women in the service that flag represents, who have given or risk their lives for all of us, including football players black and white. The reason given by the NFL is the First Amendment right of freedom of expression. What happened to freedom of expression when the issue was honoring five murdered police officers? I would like someone to explain what nicety allows one form of freedom of expression, but not another, because either the NFL must decide expression ends in the workplace for everybody, or it is allowable for everybody.
Until then, as I follow sports specifically to get away from the constant hateful and divisive political ranting and posturing that has invaded every aspect of life in America, I will boycott the NFL and go back to watching nothing but boxing.