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Taking A Knee

Much has been made of the President’s comments about the NFL players taking a knee during the National Anthem in protest of the Black lives lost to police violence. There can be no doubt that most police are heroic. But there have been too many instances where their actions have led to the death of Black people who in many cases are innocent of any crime. The criminal justice system has been very slow to hold these officers accountable for their actions often acquitting them of the charges and finding that the actions were reasonable given the predicament the officers were in. It seems preposterous. Colin Kaepernick went from a starting NFL quarterback to one without a job because of his courageous stand (or kneel).

The President feels that the flag is “disrespected” by these silent protests. He is silent while lives of innocent American citizens are lost but he believes those who protest silently should be fired. Isn’t this a right that is supposed to be protected by the Constitution? It is not enough that he would impugn the NFL players and owners, but he was also mad at the Golden State Warriors, champions of the NBA, for voting not to go to the White House and particularly singled out Stef Curry, their supposed leader and a former two-time NBA MVP. This is meddling on steroids.

Owners and players alike voiced their displeasure at the President’s rantings. Many of the owners are Trump contributors and they have amassed hundred of millions of dollars based on public contributions to the arenas and stadiums they play in. Although they are well paid, the players would not be so if they could not run, throw, catch, tackle, shoot, rebound, or block better than the rest of the people in the country. They are not there because they are loved. They are there because they are the best. Owners, coaches and players locked arms to oppose this threat to the enterprise that is not only the most popular entertainment in America but one that pays them awfully well.

But money may not be enough. As Colin Kaepernick has demonstrated, maybe principle is more important than profit. These athletes have eyes and ears. They know what is going on around them. It may be too much to ignore. No money or fame can cause you to ignore what may form your own self-worth. These athletes come from communities. They have families, friends, and teammates who are affected by these actions. Because one is an athlete and is gifted with ability does not mean you can turn your back on things that are happening around you. Some feel compelled to act. To ignore this would be to ignore your humanity. That is too much to ask.

The President fails to recognize these are people first. You cannot treat people any kind of way and expect to be them to be silent. You cannot say anything you want to and expect people not to listen. Maybe this can happen in a fake world but not in a real one. Many people care about not only what happens to them but what happens to others. That is the way it should be especially in a country that wants to be great.

Brad Thompson

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