Being a great police officer is likely one of the most troublesome, harmful, idealistic jobs on the planet. The character of police work is such that harmless individuals, together with regulation enforcement officers, will typically be killed.
Inside that framework, America has an issue. Some police shootings are unjustified. And a disproportionate variety of these unjustified shootings have concerned white cops and black victims.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has intensified the nationwide debate on this situation. His first open act of protest was to take a seat whereas the nationwide anthem was performed previous to an August 26 pre-season recreation towards the Inexperienced Bay Packers. Thereafter, Kaepernick informed NFL.com, “I’m not going to face up to take pride in a flag for a rustic that oppresses black individuals and other people of colour. To me, that is greater than soccer, and it will be egocentric on my half to look the opposite method. There are our bodies on the street and other people getting paid depart and getting away with homicide.”
Kaepernick later modified his protest by kneeling on one knee as an alternative of sitting whereas the nationwide anthem is performed. His protest is now being emulated by different athletes, in different leagues, and in different sports activities.
I am conversant with the problems concerned. Years in the past, I wrote a guide about Thomas Shea, a New York Metropolis cop who shot and killed a ten-year-old African-American named Clifford Glover. Shot him within the again. Later, as Muhammad Ali’s biographer, I noticed what one man can accomplish by standing up for his beliefs within the face of an unjust system. I used to be tangentially concerned as an lawyer in litigation towards state authorities after two Jackson State School college students have been shot and killed by members of the Mississippi Freeway Patrol in 1970. And in 1971, I skilled the felony justice system in Selma, Alabama, firsthand.
One thing bothered me when Colin Kaepernick started his protest. At first, I could not put my finger on it. Then I learn what Jim Brown (one of many biggest soccer gamers of all time and an outspoken civil rights activist for many years) needed to say.
“I might not problem our flag,” Brown declared. “I might not do something that has to do with [dis]respecting the flag or the nationwide anthem. I do not assume it is applicable.”
I am inclined to agree with Brown. A part of that sentiment springs from the assumption that we’d like extra unifying symbols on this nation, not fewer. The nationwide anthem, just like the flag, has the potential to be certainly one of these symbols.
I felt extra snug with Kaepernick’s protest when he selected to kneel fairly than sit whereas the anthem is performed. Sitting appears too dismissive, whereas kneeling is extra respectful. And I can see the profit in standing at consideration with an upraised fist within the method of Tommie Smith and John Carlos with its highly effective imagery of talking out for what is true.
Why is Kaepernick doing this? His detractors say that he is an unpatriotic second-string quarterback who’s making an attempt to attract consideration to himself. However it’s simpler to assault Kaepernick than it’s to constructively handle the problems that he has raised. Individuals who protested towards the invasion of Iraq have been attacked as unpatriotic too.
One may additionally query why enjoying the nationwide anthem earlier than sports activities occasions has develop into all however obligatory in america. We do not play the anthem earlier than theatrical performances or live shows. And I have never heard anybody query the patriotism of followers who begin shouting midway by way of the anthem.
Does it hassle Kaepernick’s detractors when, across the time the vocalist will get to the rockets’ purple glare, followers are screaming. “Go, Cowboys! F——, go!” Are they involved that the majority telecasts minimize to a business quite than televise the enjoying of the anthem?
That stated; kneeling through the enjoying of the nationwide anthem – like burning one’s draft-card in an earlier period as a protest towards the struggle in Vietnam – is simply a symbolic act. Gamers who kneel and do nothing extra have – within the phrases of Khizr Khan (the daddy of slain struggle hero Humayun Khan) – “sacrificed nothing.”
Additionally, whereas kneeling through the nationwide anthem may draw consideration to the difficulty of unjustified police shootings, it does not apply actual strain on the powers that be. Like sporting a hoodie in solidarity with Trayvon Martin, it accomplishes subsequent to nothing until extra is completed.
It does not interrupt company America’s money move.
Suppose Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers took the sector a half-hour late for his or her nationally televised Thursday night time recreation towards the Arizona Cardinals on October 6?
Suppose Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets took the courtroom a half-hour late for his or her house opener towards the Boston Celtics on October 29?
There’s power in numbers. Workforce gamers who stand collectively have much less to worry in the best way of retaliation than athletes in particular person sports activities.
If a whole workforce is thirty minutes late for the beginning of a recreation, would NFL commissioner Roger Goodell or NBA commissioner Adam Silver advantageous all the gamers and danger a widespread insurrection from their work drive? I do not assume so. Goodell has sufficient picture issues of his personal in the meanwhile. And Silver is not about to danger the good points he achieved when he introduced the guillotine down on Los Angeles Clippers proprietor Donald Sterling following revelation of Sterling’s over-the-top bigoted remarks. Neither league needs that confrontation with its work pressure.
And there is a extra radical various that the gamers can pursue.
Suppose the 2 groups that make it to the subsequent Tremendous Bowl threaten a piece slowdown or the potential for a last-minute refusal to play the sport? Do you assume that FOX Broadcasting Firm, which is slated to televise Tremendous Bowl 51, may take a second take a look at its institutional stance on the difficulty of police shootings if its telecast of the sport have been threatened?
Muhammad Ali gave up the heavyweight championship of the world for what he believed in. Skilled athletes in staff sports activities may give up a day’s pay.
It may additionally be famous that the anti-war motion of the 1960s was fueled by outrage on school campuses. That outrage wasn’t solely selfless. School college students in these days have been afraid of being drafted. And I do not imply by the NFL.
School campuses have been comparatively quiet in recent times as a result of nobody is being drafted to struggle in Iraq. However that does not imply school college students ought to sit on their butts. It might definitely get the eye of the powers that be if ESPN’s telecast of the semi-finals and finals within the upcoming School Soccer Playoff was threatened.
What is the NCAA going to do about it? It may well’t superb the gamers.
Presidential election campaigns supply a singular alternative to teach the general public and have interaction in an clever dialogue on problems with nationwide significance. That course of has been sorely missing this yr, so different types of expression (resembling kneeling for the nationwide anthem) have crammed the void.
This results in crucial factor that Colin Kaepernick and everybody else who’s involved concerning the street our nation is taking can do.
I am sufficiently old to have lived by means of a time when Martin Luther King Jr, Medgar Evers, Viola Liuzzo, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and others died so individuals of shade might vote.
Individuals who assume there’s “no actual distinction” between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are as ignorant because the individuals who thought there was no actual distinction between George W. Bush and Al Gore sixteen years in the past.
Not voting is disrespecting one of the best of what this nation stands for.
Furthermore, there are native elections throughout the nation that may decide who appoints police commissioners, which instances are prosecuted, and who makes coverage on regulation enforcement issues for years to return.
North Carolina is an important swing state. Is Carolina Panthers Cam Newton registered to vote?
Ohio is an important swing state. If Cleveland Cavaliers celebrity LeBron James needs to make a distinction, he ought to urge individuals to vote.
Colin Kaepernick ought to be telling individuals to register to vote.
The great thing about voting is that one does not need to be an elite athlete to do it. And anybody can work in help of a political marketing campaign.
Thomas Hauser might be reached by e mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. His most up-to-date ebook – A Arduous World: An Inside Take a look at One other Yr in Boxing – was revealed by the College of Arkansas Press