Thursday, September 28, 2017

Taking a Knee

Someone asked yesterday how I felt about the "taking a knee" controversy among football players and entertainers in the United States. (In case you've been living under a rock: It's become a method of protest for some NFL players to kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Our esteemed president has suggested that doing so ought to get players fired.)

My blog pal at 37Paddington has already addressed this far more eloquently than I ever could. I'd suggest you read her short post, because it's basically how I feel.

I don't understand why kneeling offends people so much, honestly. I'm not a very nationalistic person and actions like waving the flag, saying the pledge of allegiance and singing the national anthem have always made me a little uncomfortable. What are we, zombies?

When I was a reporter and I attended public meetings that began with the pledge, I always left out the "under God" sentence, and considered it my right to do so -- just as anyone has a right to say or not say the pledge, kneel or not kneel during the anthem, express themselves (or not) however they like.

I remember being at a baseball game in the late '80s with a friend. As we stood for the national anthem, my friend was wearing a baseball cap, and an older man behind us snarled: "Take off your damn hat!" We both thought it was so absurd, but my friend complied. Admittedly, that's not like kneeling -- we were simply being careless, not speaking out against injustice -- but it illustrates how touchy people get about these things, and how perplexed I am when they do.

The fact is, the United States has some real, lingering problems with race and justice, and acknowledging those problems seems pretty patriotic to me. Pretending the problems don't exist, on the other hand, and falling in line to pose single-file, hand-over-heart, identical and mute doesn't really do anyone any favors -- does it?

So I say, kneel away. Speak up. Protest.

The most bothersome aspect of all this is the President's use of the issue to throw red meat to his (white, racist) supporters and call for retribution against the protesters. That's what should offend us.

(Photo: A door in Hampstead, last weekend.)


  1. I completely agree and it is wonderful to see some young people taking the knee, despite the threat of reprisal, as well.

  2. Well said Steve. Inwardly, I nodded in agreement with your suggestion that "taking the knee" is in fact a patriotic gesture that is designed to encourage movement further along the track to that fabled land in which there truly is "Liberty and justice for ALL".

  3. If anything, taking a knee seems to me to be a respectful way of showing your resistance..

  4. At a local high school football game last weekend, a kid brought a huge Confederate flag and waved it. I'm sure it's no coincidence that the team they were playing was at a traditionally African American high school (it's probably 70% black kids). School officials confiscated the flag and the student got disciplinary action, which has set off bitter debate around here.

    This country has gone crazy.

  5. I'm taking a knee as I type this.

    I didn't care one way or the other until der Drumpf called for the firing of "those sons of bitches". Now I want everyone to take a knee in protest to our white supremacist President.

  6. I'm sure you know how I feel. I have nothing to add here.

  7. I am not very patriotic. I just don' show much outward patriotism. But then that's how Canadians are.

  8. Thank you for writing this. I completely agree.

  9. Thank you, Steve. I wish I could also "like" all the comments here.

  10. I totally agree with you and 37 Paddington. I heard several reports after some of those games where the reporter asked people at the game what they thought. The vast majority said things like "they get paid millions of $$ the least they can do is stand for the anthem". What I actually hear is "we pay you millions you don't really deserve so do what you are told and quit complaining". It's racist. It's the exact same reason that Republicans are trying desperately to wipe away any Obama legacy no matter who it hurts.
    I read the best statement I've heard so far to describe the latest senate debacle yesterday in the NY Times by Thomas Friedman. He says:
    "Surely one of the most cynical, reckless acts of governing in my lifetime has been President Trump and the G.O.P.'s attempt to ram through a transformation of America's health care system - without holding hearings with experts, conducting an independent cost-benefit analysis or preparing the public - all to erase Barack Obama's legacy to satisfy a few billionaire ideologue donors and a "base" so drunk on Fox News that its members don't understand they'll be the ones most hurt by it all." To me that sums up the situation perfectly.
    Our President is a liar, a racist and a white supremacist. I say we should all be protesting.

  11. It is a respectful protest in my eyes.
    Quiet and dignified and very very visual

  12. At first I was a bit angered by the 'take a knee' stance, then read up on what it really means. It's not a show of disrespect to the flag or the military, but to the inequality in this great country. Then when His Assholiness made his stupid remarks, I was determined not to fall into lockstep with his sheep.

  13. Meanwhile the President's comments are taking attention away from the things he should be dealing with -- and according to an article I now cannot find, that is not by accident. Apparently he has a long history (before the White House) of creating a firestorm to divert attention away from real issues. Another misuse of power.

  14. Amen Steve. And to all your commenters as well.

  15. I am in complete agreement with you and your commenters.
    Protests and the honest press have to keep the truth in front of this dreadful president and his supporters.