Wildfires still burning out of control in California. Some border babies still not reunited with their parents. Markets reeling from Turkey’s plummeting economy, pushed further down by Trumpian tariffs.
But thank God President Donald J. Trumpet has made us all safe from kneeling NFL players.
Indeed, the pre-season had barely gotten underway Thursday night when Donnie Two Scoops threw a pass to his base on Twitter:
“The NFL players are at it again - taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem. Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their ‘outrage’ at something that most of them are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love......”
Before we consider the larger issue, let’s address two points. First, I sincerely doubt that it is “’outrage’ at something that most of them are unable to define.” The protesters have defined the objects of their outrage very well – racial inequality and police brutality aimed at people of color. Of course, they’ll now have to add to that outrage grievances over the NFL clamping down on the protests. Commissioner Roger Goodell has decreed that anyone who doesn’t want to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner" will confine himself to the locker room until game time. (Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones has said nothing doing: His entire team will be on the field, standing for the anthem, or else.)
Secondly, the players “may make a fortune doing what they love,” but that doesn’t mean they’re without thoughts and feelings – and civil rights. Understand this: I’m no fan of gesture politics. I find it mostly empty. But these protests are tied to community activism. There’s no flag-burning and no hate speech directed at anyone. Rather, by kneeling, the players have shown themselves to be engaged with the flag and the anthem in a way that many sports fans are not. Recently, I attended a sporting event in which I was one of the few people standing and singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (It is, after all, an anthem, meant to be sung.) While many were standing -- though not at what you would particularly call "attention" -- the rest were getting drinks, buying food, settling their children and, particularly, fiddling with their cell phones.
What does it profit a man if he stand for the national anthem but is mentally elsewhere? It seems to me what matters is not whether you stand up but rather what you stand for.