Friday, October 6, 2017

Slant Pattern’s Take on #TakeAKnee

By Kevin Beane

It's super-tempting to just write about the silly stuff and lighter fare that often makes up the bulk of this column, from logo redesigns to answering mailbags not intended for me.

But while I'm nobody, I don't feel comfortable having any sort of forum to talk about sports without weighing in on the NFL protests.

Let me not bury the lede. I absolutely, full-throatedly support the NFL players protests. 100%.

It's important to understand a few things, I think. The first is that no NFL players stood for the anthem before 2009. Before that, all teams stayed in the locker room until after the anthem for nearly every game.

It wasn't until 2009 that the U.S. Military started paying the NFL to turn pregame into a hugely patriotic campaign, with those field-sized flags, jet flyovers, and players on the field for the anthem.

Unless you are mad at the players for not charging out on the field before 2009 with hand on heart, refusing to stay in the locker room for the anthem, you are essentially objecting to the kneeling players' reaction to an ad campaign.

Then there's the charge that, by kneeling in front of the flag, they are disrespecting the military.

As outspoken as some players have been, I haven't heard one bash the military.

That's because their protests have absolutely nothing to do with the military. It has to do with a lot of things, such as a society and national police force increasingly hostile to blacks, and where it seems that cops can murder unarmed blacks at will inasmuch as no cop ever gets convicted of doing so anymore.

That's what Black Lives Matter has set out to address. It hasn't been a play for black supremacy or a call to violence no matter what your racist fever dreams tell you or forwards from your fishing buddies say.

The open season on blacks, especially by cops, is perceived by the protesters (correctly, in my opinion) as symptomatic of a larger, institutional problem society has, which makes the anthem a perfectly reasonable time and place to lodge that (silent, peaceful) protest.

So it boggles my mind that so many people seem to be arguing, "Troops died for your right to protest — how dare you use it!"

It boggles my mind that people can call these players millionaire ingrates while having nothing to say about either the billionaire, pension-raiding plutocrats that employ them or the fact that the players are trying to bring attention to the plights of less fortunate blacks than them.

It boggles my mind that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, with a single press conference, went from most righteous league commissioner to most reprehensible by mandating that players stand for the anthem. I hope to God a player too good to cut challenges him on that every single game night.

The election of Donald Trump has opened up a torrent of divisiveness, nastiness, racism, and authoritarianism to such an extent that I don't know if we're going to come out of it as good as we were (relatively) before Trump.

So keep fighting your fight, big or small, NFL player or not.

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