Inactivism

I gotta confess, I enjoy watching sports of all kinds. I like to see people doing things that even they might think are impossible. And as a result, I’ve been saddened by the recent controversy with football players refusing to stand for the National Anthem. It started with Colin Kaepernick, shown below, and has spread from there.

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This whole protest seems totally wrong to me, but not for the reason that most folks cite. Most folks seem to think it is wrong because the football players are disrespecting the flag and those who died for it. And while I understand and agree with that objection, it’s not my main objection.

Me, I think it is foolish and wrong because I am a practical man. I’m not so much interested in the theories and the causes, or the motives of the players and what they believe they are doing. On the other hand, I am very interested in the effects … and kneeling during the Anthem has had no measurable beneficial effects.

The problem is that the “kneel when they play the Anthem” movement has no goal. And as a result, their actions as political football activists have accomplished exactly nothing. I’ve invented a new word to describe that kind of people. I call them “inactivists”. Consider:

Are black people and people of color better off because Colin Kaepernick knelt during the National Anthem? Not in any sense.

Has kneeling during the Anthem brought the disparate and often fractious racial groups closer together? No way.

Has it improved the social or economic situation of people of color? Nope.

Has it engendered a dialog about racism in America? Quite the opposite. It has led to increased and often-virulent antipathy.

In short, those inactivists not standing for the National Anthem have made the racial situation in the US worse, not better.

And to cap it off, I see that a bunch of eight-year-old Pop Warner football kids have now refused to stand for the National Anthem. That to me is among the lowest of actions, using your kids to publicly push your narrow political message … but setting that particular horror aside, WHAT IS THE MESSAGE THEY ARE PUSHING?

Look, I’m not blind to racism. The US history of racism is actually pretty amazing, both as to the good and as to the bad. When I was a boy, in several US states it was illegal for black people and white people to marry. Illegal! And across the South, segregated beaches and segregated swimming pools, lunch counters, hotels, clubs, theaters, restrooms, and even segregated public drinking fountains were so common as to raise little comment. Almost unimaginable today, but that was everyday life in my youth.

To have gone from that condition to where we are today, with segregation illegal and people of color in every part of our society including the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the White House, is nothing short of astonishing. And I have fought for that change, and spoken in favor of it, and supported those advancing that change.

Now, does racism still exist in the US? You bet. There are still parts of the US where DWB is sometimes a crime.

But it is nowhere near as bad as people want us to believe. Michael Brown did not have his hands up when he was shot. When Trayvon Martin died, by everyone’s account he was sitting on a man’s chest and pounding the man’s head into the pavement. And the Washington Post data clearly shows that if you are getting arrested in the US, you are more likely to be killed if you are white than if you are black or Hispanic.

The moral of the cops-vs-citizens story has NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE. It’s the same message that my mom told me, and I’m clearly melanin-deficient. What wise moms of all colors tell their sons is, when you have to deal with the cops, be polite, do what they say, and don’t resist arrest. Ninety-five percent of the people shot by cops are resisting arrest.

But I digress. Yes, there are still problems of racism in the US, people of color continue to face hidden barriers … but when someone asks “what did you do to improve the racial situation”, is it enough to answer “My contribution was that I publicly disrespected the US flag”?

Really?

If you want an example of what a football player can do with their wealth, popularity, and public stature, look at what J. J. Watt did last month. Like Kaepernick, Watt is a football player with the National Football League (NFL). While the rain was still falling in Houston, Watt publicly pledged money for the flood victims. Further to that, he set himself a goal of raising two hundred thousand dollars from the public … and at present, the amount donated has topped thirty million dollars.

As soon as the money started coming in, Watt immediately got some semi trucks, enlisted a bunch of his teammates, loaded the trucks with relief supplies, and went to Houston and started delivering the food and blankets and such to those in need.

watt houston relief

I’m sure you can see the difference between doing those good works, and those refusing to stand for the Anthem. One makes the situation better, and the other makes the situation worse. One achieves something, the other achieves nothing. One brings people of all colors together, the other splits and divides people by color.

A few clarifying comments and conclusions.

First, of course, the players have a right to not stand for the Anthem, it’s part of freedom of speech. But what’s going on is not a question of rights, or of freedom of speech. It is a question of effectiveness, or to be more precise, a question of ineffectiveness.

Next, yes, there are many valid racial issues that sadly still need work. However, taking a knee during the Anthem does nothing to move that necessary work forward. Instead, it engenders discord and drives the races even further apart.

Next, the National Football League (NFL) officials by and large have been total hypocrites on this issue. For example, when the Dallas Cowboys wanted to put decals on their helmets to honor the five policemen killed in a cowardly ambush at a BLM rally, the NFL would not let them do it … but it allows the players to dishonor the Anthem and the flag. Go figure …

Next, not all football players have drunk the koolaid. After talking with legendary football player Jim Brown, the Cleveland Browns decided to NOT kneel during the Anthem. Jim Brown said “Colin [Kaepernick] has to make up his mind whether he’s truly an activist or he’s a football player”, and I can only agree.

Jim Brown kneel anthem

Finally, I use the term “drunk the koolaid” deliberately, because this kind of divisive action is suicidal for football. The TV audience is way, way down this year, and when asked why, the most common answer was “Because of the disrespect to the Flag and the Anthem”. Football is already reeling from the issue of brain damage from concussions. The TV networks are the ones paying the players’ salaries, that’s where the big money comes from. The last thing the NFL players need is to personally insult and alienate their core audience.

My vote? Sports are sports, social justice is social justice, and they should never be mixed. When I sit down to watch baseball, I don’t want to be bothered by politics—it’s one of the reasons I’m watching sports, to get away from the political madness.

Now, I’m going back to watching the football games … hey, it’s Sunday, what can I say?

Best to all,

w.

38 thoughts on “Inactivism

  1. Does the anthem divide us, or unite us? Does the Constitution divide us, or unite us? Do the elections divide us, or unite us?

    Shortly after the unexpected election result Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin called a meeting on how to resist. To resist Trump, not the Constitution, or the will of voters. Jesse, how do you resist one and not the other?

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  2. I agree, Willis, that, “…kneeling during the Anthem has had no measurable beneficial effects.” Nor is it likely to.

    But, is kneeling during the Anthem a matter of “freedom of speech”? I may be wrong, but I don’t see that kneeling during the Anthem has anything directly to do with “freedom of speech.” Freedom of speech means the government cannot make laws that make political speech a crime (except when speech directly endangers safety, as defined by the SCOTUS). There are no laws against kneeling during the Anthem, nor is anybody suggesting there should be, as far as I know. However, the NFL could, if it wanted to (and if it could get the unions to agree) ban “political speech” and fire players who engage in it (such as kneeling during the Anthem). Whether that’s a good idea or not I’ll leave to each their opinion.

    I do take issue with sportspeople or entertainers who are widely known by the public using that notoriety to push their political views in an obvious effort to influence people who identify with them. I think that is wrong, but it is their right to do so subject to any contracts they have signed affecting that right.

    I have spent significant time in more than 35 countries around the world in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe etc., and in my view the US is one of the least racist countries in the world by any standard: by its laws, by its current cultural norms, which is not to say that the US cannot be even better in how white citizens treat citizens “of color,” which is the issue at hand.

    So, the core question: Is white racism significantly and negatively affecting the ability of African-Americans (or Hispanics or ….) to live self-fulfilling lives? Is white racism the reason that African-Americans or Hispanics have greater levels of poverty than others? Personally, I don’t see it. Which NOT to say that African-Americans do not face racism from time-to-time and in some cases significantly hindering their ability to realize themselves. But, to suggest that white racism is the primary reason for the social ills experienced by African-Americans? No, all the evidence I see suggests that’s not a reasonable position to take, kneeling or otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, John. I discussed freedom of speech because some have said that the NFL or alternatively the team owners can’t stop the players from protesting because of freedom of speech.

      As to the reasons for poverty, three easy rules for staying out of poverty:

      1. Graduate from High School

      2. Don’t have kids until you are married.

      3. Get a job, any job.

      People who follow those three rules, white or black alike, are very unlikely to be below the poverty line.

      w.

      Liked by 1 person

    • vuurklip September 25, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      This kind of levelheadedness is as scarce as teeth on a chicken (this is a South African melanin deprived proverb: “Skaars soos hoendertande”)

      Thanks for the kind words, vuurklip. We have the exact same saying in English, “Scarce as hen’s teeth”, likely because both have Germanic roots.

      w.

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  3. This is a sensible discussion of players kneeling during the national anthem. Another point is this: the anthem and other national symbols represent the nation and its principles, NOT the current president or government. It is those national principles which have made possible the great advances in equality of race and sex in the last 60 years. Pres. Trump’s approach to this is mistaken: instead of trying imposition, he should be explaining and arguing, as well as reviewing policing policies and practice. It’s worth noting that BLM is inspired by CAIR, the Hamas / MB front.

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  4. My initial impression of Colin Kaepernick was not very good. I felt he was a simple headed self serving lout. So I am biased, maybe not how some people see it but I did have an instant take that was not flattering to Colin. I might have had an even more negative impression if he’d been white.
    I’ve since decided he might be a fine fellow, maybe he has an intellectual side that is at odds with his tattoos. (There it is again, an impression wrongly gained.)
    This whole episode is fairly fitted into a teapot. At least in importance to the world. It seems to have gotten much larger than it should have. Kind of like a balloon inflated beyond designed specs.

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  5. My son was asking me what I thought… I said two things… 1. I don’t think you should mix work and politics, unless you are a politician. 2. The football players kneeling during the anthem isn’t solving any problems. If they are serious about it, they should put their money where their knee is… I don’t have an extra million laying around to work on race relations. But, they do. Or should have a few extra bucks to start a foundation or something that deals with this. Bill Gates has taken his millions and set up a philanthropic organization, so the football players who are kneeling should do the same, but focus on race issues.

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  6. Sadly, the management from some teams have gone to some sanctimonious lengths to decry Pres. Trump’s words as divisive, ignoring the fact that their players have been the very embodiment of divisiveness from the start.

    And I agree … part of the pleasure of watching a sports event is the absence of hateful conflict. If they insist on shoving their views in my face then I can just read a good book.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You nail it! If these “protestors” want to make an actual difference then they should be telling their fellow black men to stop murdering each other. ‘nough said.

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  8. “Football is already reeling from the issue of brain damage from concussions.” Um, kneeling during the national anthem might be a symptom of said brain damage…

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  9. “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind.” Proverbs 11:29

    Professional sports athletes are high salaried entertainers. Those salaries are dependent upon team owners, a large fan base and television revenue. These protesting behavior’s show disrespect for the sacrifice of our military members both past & present. Such self-focused spectacles will reduce these fan’s participation both in attendance and watching on TV.

    The model for my predictions is based upon what happened to track & field after a number of public protests by prominent athletes in high visibility events, for essentially the same reasons. Expect fan based sports to evolve as they seem to be doing right now with decreased attention to football. Professional basketball with elite players making public protests may be next. The protests will accelerate the fan base loss. Enter the economy of scale, i.e., decreased number of fans, dictate a diminution of money for salaries. These professional players will, inherit the wind.

    Most in the military took a pledge: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America…” Its hard to watch a wealthy sports player, who has never served, take a knee. “Turn the damn television off!”

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  10. Colin Kaepernick like a seemingly large number of African-Americans has bought into the urban myth that police murder them in large numbers. Washington Post showed that that was not the case but this is an emotional meme in the Black communities. That was what his protest was about IIRC. Nobody wants to believe that they or their community is the cause of their problems so it’s easier to take a external threat (blown well out of proportion) and focus on that rather than fix their own problems. Even the NFL management jumped on this and I believe for the same reason. The problems with wife/girlfriend beatings, drug and violence are internal and would require them to fire some of their best players. Much easier to “take a knee” and rail about free speech.

    Oh and the NFL operations handbook is quite clear about how the team members should present themselves while the national anthem is played and taking a knee is not an option. I’m all for free speech but on your own time not while your working.

    Meh, pretty much lost interest in most major sports.

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  11. In Tampa, several years ago, Warrick Dunn was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was brought up by his mother, a police officer who was killed in the line of duty while he was young. When Warrick made it in the NFL he quietly went about helping poor, single mother families in Tampa. Each year he would buy 5 families a furnished home. He did this for years. No public accolades, no look at what I am doing self congratulations. Just effective action to help those less fortunate then he. Vinny Lecavalier, a professional hockey player with the Tampa Bay Lightning donated $3 million to build a pediatric cancer ward in Tampa. Vinny was not only a great player on the ice but was and still is a real leader in the community as well which is why they are retiring his #4 this Feb.
    Now, I am positive that many other professional athletes in all sports have done such deeds without any need for recognition. So why are such deeds ignored by the press? Why is it only the divisive actions that get the attention? We all know the answer. Good doesn’t sell news. Now I ask why won’t the press call out those protesters to show real leadership and lead by doing something that actually makes someone better off instead of being the inactivists they expose themselves to be.

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    • It all comes back to “It bleeds, it leads.” Plenty of professional athletes have done good things for lots of people and you never hear about it. It is time to burn them all down, the good ones refuse to stand against the bad.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Tim Tebow was the first to take a knee but not during the national anthem.

    If I recall correctly he was directed not to do it anymore. In the world of ‘political correctness’ it’s not what you do but what the ‘social justice warriors’ think is OK.

    Anyway, I look forward to wearing my ‘Dixie’ hunting tee shirt with the confederate flag with the superimposed big buck on it and having the masses of social justice warriors kneel before me! I will be all smiles at their honoring of my presence.

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    • Tebow “took a knee” in order to pray before a game, a practice he had been following since highschool. Not a protest of anything, simply a common gesture of prayer to a higher being, and he was vilified for it. Talking heads on ESPN sh*t all over Tebow TO THIS DAY simply because he is an open and unapologetic christian. That alone tells you all you need to know about this issue.

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  13. Regarding the issue of police killing Black people, I am still interested in the validity of the conclusions in that study: “A Bird’s Eye View of Civilians Killed by Police in 2015 – Further Evidence of Implicit Bias”

    I have trouble following the statistics; the multivariate regression models. Can we really conclude from this study that there is implicit bias in police shooting unarmed citizens?

    The study claims that the results indicated civilians from “other” minority groups were significantly more likely than Whites to have not been attacking the officer(s) or other civilians and that Black civilians were more than twice as likely as White civilians to have been unarmed.

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  14. Emotions about symbols are merely what we attach. Kneeling or standing are equally ineffective. The US has a litany of real problems. This is really just a re-telling of Swift’s big-enders vs little enders. People seem to care more about what someone else is doing during “the colors” presentation when in the end it’s a piece of cloth and some music.

    One of my favorite lines from Guardians of the Galaxy
    Rocket Raccoon: Well now I’m standing. Happy? We’re all standing now. Bunch of jackasses, standing in a circle.

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    • endthefed = taz1999. I usually use taz on WUWT and related websites. Somehow I got WordUNINpressED

      Anycase the followup is that Americans seem to spend a lot time on what other people are doing and whether we may or may not like it. Maybe it’s human nature

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  15. Another genuine sports hero, Dikembe Motombo.

    He originally came to the US to become a doctor, but played 18 years in the NBA instead and built a hospital in his home city with the earnings.

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  16. The NFL itself is hypocritical and bias. Albeit the National Anthem has zero linkage to racism, in fact, probably the opposite, but not my point.

    These players work for the owners of the NFL teams and the league in general. It is a job. They have very strict policies on behavior in the NFL, and selectively enforce them. I will leave you with one of many examples.

    http://www.dailywire.com/news/21470/nfls-free-speech-kneeling-anthem-fine-fighting-hank-berrien

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  17. Poverty is driven by children having children. freakonomics covered this very effectively.

    Getting married may help but the key driver is age of parents, actually unsurprising.

    The other factors are actually symptoms.

    We in New Zealand have indigenous Polynesian populations who have a history early child rearing the resultant impact is clear to see and the problem is that the Maori celebrate these children born to children, a cultural issue maybe?

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  18. I’ve had enough. I’ve decided to exercise during the time I used to allocate to watching pro football & other sports. I no longer have any interest in what they are trying to communicate to their audience. I’ve flipped the switch. Sorry.

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  19. First, some background:
    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2017/11/how_not_to_get_shot_by_the_police.html
    Ten rules to keep you out of trouble with the police. They should sound familiar to readers of this blog.
    and
    Now watch Chris Rock say it, in a way that only Chris Rock would be allowed to do. It’s from ten years ago, so maybe Chris Rock would no longer be allowed to say it.

    “Chris Rock – How not to get your ass kicked by the police!”
    (Another poster here mentioned this link. Just in case you missed it, here it is again.)

    Now we have Scott Adams making his contribution.
    http://blog.dilbert.com/2017/12/11/black-lives-matter-blm-republicans-natural-allies/
    “Why Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Republicans are Natural Allies (or should be)”

    Some of you might recall that when Colin Kaepernick started the kneeling trend in the NFL, I publicly offered to help translate any ideas he might have for improving the lives of black Americans into “Republican language” so there would be some hope of persuading the group that held the most political power. I never heard any specific suggestions from Kaepernick.

    BLM has come up with some suggestions which Scott thinks have potential.
    Reducing the number of police shootings is a worthy goal.

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