No “word of the day” today, because I just encountered yet another opinion piece supporting black athletes who are “taking the knee” during the National Anthem, apparently begun by the 49ers’ bench-sitter Colin Kaepernick, probably to get some attention and prevent people from forgetting he’s still on an NFL roster. Other players have followed his lead, like Brandon Marshall of the Broncos. Two teams, the Seahawks and the Chiefs, demonstrated by locking their arms together during the national anthem this past Sunday. It has also been reported that at least three high school football teams have also taken to making a “stand.” Kaepernick explained his stand thus:
I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That’s not happening. People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody. That’s something that’s not happening. I’ve seen videos, I’ve seen circumstances where men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they fought have for, and have been murdered by the country they fought for, on our land. That’s not right.
First of all, this is obviously quite self-serving. Is Kaepernick implying that all the black men who have been shot by police are former combat veterans in Iraq (I don’t believe we were in Iraq fighting for our “freedom,” but that is not the point)? It must be the case, because, after all, he wouldn’t be getting as much support if he was taking a knee for common criminals. While there probably were a few black service members who have murdered, there is a 90 percent probability that they were killed by people for whom there is a 90 percent probability that they don’t give a damn what America “stands for,” let alone for freedom, justice, liberty and all that. The motives were likely murky variations of what constitutes “respect,” which is something more likely to be missing in every day relations of the person doing the shooting.
Second of all, there is more than a little hypocrisy at play here. These athletes are being paid millions of dollars a year by white owners and a largely white audience. They are not “out” to get them, or any other black male (save for white gender activists who see black male athletes as easy pickings to exploit). They are just like million-dollar black athletes living in their million-dollar homes in high-end, gated communities: they are not afraid of getting shot by police in the “old neighborhood”—they are more afraid of being shot or robbed by one of their “brothers” there.
Now Howard Bryant of ESPN noted that Baltimore Orioles player Adam Jones also took his “knee,” and complained that Adams will be “misunderstood,” the “substance” of his complaints about baseball being a “white man’s sport” being “mauled, chewed and twisted beyond recognition.” First of all, that hasn’t happened, save in the comments section. Bryant claims that “Baseball is a white man's game, and is so by the specific design of the people who run it. In a country full of world-class black athletes, baseball cannot seem to attract many. Nothing Jones said is statistically, factually or anecdotally remarkable except for that he took the remarkable step of actually saying it.”
Bryant went on to say that baseball has not “evolved,” meaning it has few black (or for that matter, Latino) managers, owners or general managers. But is he really talking about why so few black kids show any interest in baseball? Historically black Howard University recently dropped its baseball program for lack of interest, and very few college teams have more than one black player on their rosters, usually only as a “token.” Inner city Little Leagues are virtually non-existent. And if baseball is supposedly a “white man’s game,” then professional basketball certainly can be defined as a “black man’s game,” largely because the game has “evolved” by what Bryant should actually mean—by incorporating the language and culture of the “street.” Is that supposed to be “good”? You tell me. It probably doesn’t help baseball’s appeal to black America in that it is a slow-moving sport with very little “contact.”
The Kaepernick Effect reached its low point in the Washington Post last week, when someone named Zack Linly, a black man who claimed to be engaged in numerous occupations, wrote that it was time to “stop arguing with disingenuous white people” who don’t agree with the usual narrative involving the topic of police brutality on most occasions (although I would fully concur that there are instances when a shooting occurs for reasons existing only in a cop’s paranoid and poisoned mind). Linly was “tired” of whites who did not know what they were “talking about,” even claiming that they had no right to speak to the issue, even though they are being directly accused. Linly went on to write
“We’ve spelled it out for white America a hundred different ways that their beloved police forces are full of officers who are simply more volatile, fearful and prone to harassment and abuse of power when dealing with us – and it’s costing us our lives. We’ve laid out all the statistics and all of our millions of personal testimonies.” Linly then offered a list of statements in which whites “rationalized” the issue of police shootings, like “There must be more to the story,” “All lives matter” and “What about black on black crime?” Linly dismisses these and other pertinent observations as “deflective” responses—to what? Linly’s credibility is “shot” when he dismisses contempt for moral and ethical standards in dysfunctional communities, or any observations concerning them at all. He can “explain” it any way he wishes, but he has no right to complain harshly when people point out the holes in his explanation that a herd of elephants can run through.
The United States may not “perfectly” live up to its creed; I know that as well as anyone. But if it has been “unkind” to Kaperpernick, Adams and Linly, they could try living in the following countries, which according to one health organization list are the top seven “must to avoid” places for “tourists” to visit: Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Niger and Burundi. In countries like these, they’d likely need an entire Army battalion as a bodyguard to protect themselves and their wealth from their innocent “brothers.”