Tuesday, September 26, 2017
The Right to Be Stupid in Public
I've heard it said that freedom is the right to go to hell in a hand-basket of your own design and choosing, and the current flap about the NFL players' protest is a splendid example.
Just why the assorted football players decided all of a sudden that the US was a "racist" country, oppressing Blacks in particular, and that they should protest by kneeling rather than standing during the national anthem isn't much of a mystery; 'twas inspired by the same Democrat all-out anti-Trump campaign that's insisting that Trump Is A Racist So Are All His Voters. Now, a moment's thought -- or an hour's thoughtful Internet research -- would readily disprove this theory. As I've mentioned elsewhere, according to the FBI/DOJ there are fewer than 100 real neo-Nazis and something less than 7000 hardcore active White supremacists of any stripe in the whole country.
Nonetheless, there are a lot of Blacks (and, inexplicably, Whites) who almost desperately want to believe this political myth, and absolutely won't listen to -- let alone look for -- any facts to the contrary. For example, I've got a Black neighbor who was particularly entranced by my new sword-cane, so I gave him a copy of the BUDK catalog I ordered it from; next day he threw it out and refused to speak to me, convinced that the catalog's staff and everybody who read it -- including me -- were all racists. Why? Because three of the items advertized in it were decorated with Confederate flags. Never mind that easily 50 of its items featured US flags, a couple dozen sported computer-game characters, another 40 were modeled from the Lord of the Rings movies, and another 100 had no decorations at all -- doubtless reflecting the tastes of its known buyers. By that logic, less than 3% of the catalog's fans were racists, and the rest were elves, zombies, Union soldiers, and indifferent. Ah, but no: that -3% magically contaminates all the rest, so everybody's a "racist" by contact -- even people whom you know perfectly well aren't. Just why so many people want to believe this is a good subject for several books, documentaries, and Ph.D. theses. My guess is that it's an easy excuse for everything that goes wrong in the life of anybody with a skin-tone one shade darker than an Icelander's.
Well, lazy excuses aside, the whole idea of the NFL players making a big noise over it -- and choosing to protest by kneeling during the National Anthem -- is just plain stupid. For one thing, after Tebow's much-publicized kneeling to pray before every game, 99+% of the fans/audience/viewers would have to have the action explained to them, or they might just assume that the players had gone through a mass religious conversion. For another, once it was explained, it made the players look like a bunch of spoiled brats. As the public sees it, professional football players make multi-million-dollar salaries (plus more for product endorsements), earn eternal fame, and are treated like heroes almost everywhere; who are they to whine about being oppressed?
This was a stupid tactic. It earned them the animosity of a lot of fans -- particularly veterans, who complained about "insulting" the flag that gave them the right to say what they pleased, a right that had been "bought with other men's blood". It got them worse criticism from long-established Black civil-rights organizations, which pointed out that it would create resentment among both White fans who certainly weren't racist and Black fans who had no chance of ever earning a pro-ballplayer's income. Trump's comment of "ungrateful" is forgettably mild by comparison.
To be fair, the working life of a professional football-player is short -- four years, on average, last time I looked -- and always ends with some sort of permanent physical damage. It's understandable that players would insist on getting salaries that will compensate for that damage (if possible) and support them and their families for the rest of their lives. And yes, they do earn that money by extreme (and dangerous) physical labor. In terms of permanent injuries and deaths, being a pro football-player is more dangerous than being a cop (Dept. of Labor stats). They do earn that money. And yes, they have the same rights as any other Americans to express their opinions -- and to make fools of themselves in public if they want to.
If that stupid tactic costs them money, as annoyed fans stop viewing or attending their games, well, that's often the price of voicing an unpopular opinion. Heaven knows, there are worse.
One of the worse effects of this dumb move is that it makes supposedly intelligent, well-educated, certainly successful Blacks look like bigoted fools. If anything is likely to arouse White animosity toward Blacks, that is.
Of course, one of the better effects is that cooler heads (and there are a lot of them), Black and White -- and all other colors as well, don't forget -- will sit down and ask, just how did intelligent, well-educated, successful people get stampeded into such stupid attitudes and tactics? The FBI and DOJ will be firmly asked to provide the real evidence on all this supposed racism, which will reveal the hoaxes and propaganda as well. That will leave a lot of people asking: who profited by deliberately fanning the flames of racism, and why? --which is a far more important question.