The NFL’s rulebook says nothing about player conduct during the pre-game playing of the U.S. national anthem.
The NFL’s game operations manual may contain a policy stating that players must be present on the sidelines during the national anthem, but not that they must stand.
Risking popular backlash by flouting “policy” and cultural norms is an essential part of protest. Playing it safe by respecting cultural totems is not. People in a lather about NFL players sitting- or kneeling-out the anthem are missing the point of the effort.
The national anthem and the American flag are not about military service members, living or dead. They are not about first responders, or anyone’s idea of “heroes.” They are symbols of our country and its culture – about what it aspires to be as well as how far it falls short. What better target of protest against that shortfall could there be?
If people are offended by the players’ behavior, where is their outrage at the use of these patriotic symbols for selling cars, furniture, and other goods, or at the practice of wearing the flag’s likeness as clothing? Selective outrage tells us what’s really on the mind of the outraged. It’s not so much patriotism as it is what the protest is saying to them: you are part of the problem. Your acquiescence or ignorance compounds the issue of long-running ethnic bias and discrimination.
Don’t be angry at the protesters, be angry at what they’re protesting.
Declining to participate in the anthem is and will continue to be a protest against the rotten core of American culture. Once enshrined in our laws, but now simply encoded in the hateful behavior of a minority of the white majority, the treatment of non-white, and particularly brown and black Americans as well as native American Indians steamrolled into near-oblivion has been a four-hundred year disgrace yet to be forthrightly addressed.
That the protesting of this disgrace discomfits some is a bulls-eye.
Consider it a favor, then, that these players risk the ire of their fans and their employers. Take them at their word, which is what I’ve written above, and ask the next question. Why do we not address the core issue? Indeed, why do we cast about for any other reason to be offended?
I’ve read people claim that they’re all for peaceful protest, but not during playing of the national anthem. It’s that little word “but” that tells you all you need to know about the speaker. Injustice is unjust, all of the time, no room for “but”s. It must be addressed and stamped out, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us.
#American #culture #racism #national #anthem #NFL