Trying to process my own feelings and thoughts around this whole NFL thing. Truck on along if this stuff bores you.
America is genuinely unique in that criticism of and dissent against authority and blind patriotism are a feature, not a bug when it comes to our brand of democracy.
It’s hard to argue that there’s anything more American than protesting injustice and giving voices to the voiceless.
I understand that the NFL is one of our forms of bread and circus. It’s a place where we as Americans come together to find comfort, solidarity and rigorous, but friendly in-group rivalry and competition. It’s a solidly uniting force shared amongst all Americans regardless of race, color or creed. Right?
Taking a knee brings up so many feelings. But I think for many, it’s a forceful imposition of a divisive sentiment into an experience that most people look to for camaraderie and common ground. A protest isn’t just disrespectful to “America” and everything bundled into that concept, it’s polluting one of the few remaining “de-militarized zones” in American culture. Can’t we just play ball?
I think there’s a real value in de-militarized zones in culture, and experiences that are, at their core, unifying and up-lifting to everyone.
I also think that NFL players who want to use whatever platform they have to point out where and how America continues to create and perpetuate injustice to specific groups of Americans, should be given broad leeway to do so.
So, with all that in consideration, I love players taking a knee. I love the American values on display when they do it. I struggle to imagine a tamer version of civil disobedience.
The new rules imposed by the NFL owners are the most cowardly and craven they could have adopted: if you want to protest, stay in the locker room.
If the NFL had the courage of its own convictions it would say “The NFL embraces warriors. These players have dedicated their lives to a sport that demands the most out of them, heart, soul and body. They endure hardships that none of us would face, to do something that we all love. We don’t expect warriors to shy away from addressing the issues their communities endure, or to accept that there is no proper visible commentary they can make without alienating fans. We believe that NFL fans love warriors, and side with people who stand up for what they believe to be right.”