When a well-known quarterback whose name doesn’t deserve another mention achieved fame of another sort by refusing to stand for the national anthem, many viewed his behavior as disrespect for America. He taught us an unfortunate lesson: propaganda spreads lies that people believe. In this case it was the same lie that inspires violence against the police.
How we react to propaganda is a good measure of what we know, whether it is an anti-American gesture or violently acting out against others. The myth of racial hatred in America has been spread, endorsed, and reinforced and is now widely believed by those who have a need to find fault whether they are activists in search of a buck, celebrities craving publicity, or politicians seeking to make their mark.
Money doesn’t create role models
People who make a lot of money because of a special talent sometimes think that public adulation makes their opinions more valuable. It doesn’t. It just makes them more public.
Hollywood types who make money playing pretend are notorious for shooting off their mouths when they should stick to acting. Professional athletes are also good at making spectacles of themselves. Sometimes that means tripping up by doing stupid things. Guns and drugs show up in cars during traffic stops. Spouses and partners are abused. Confrontations turn violent.
Does this mean that all athletes are violent criminals? No more so than it means that a police officer shooting an African American means racial oppression is a way of life in the U.S.
Can we at least agree to give our lies equal opportunity?
Better lessons than how to show disrespect for America
Discussing how people who benefit so hugely from living in America should have respect for their country is a time waster. Disrespect for America is trendy and will get worse. If there is a concerted effort to attack the black community it comes from within, but money, fame, and publicity can be had from painting the country as racist.
Adults have a choice. If we choose, we can educate ourselves so we know the difference between a smear campaign and the truth. Children don’t always have that option. Their world relies on trust. Cautioning them about a national falsehood endorsed by one of their role models is a hard thing to do.
Children aren’t stupid, though apparently many of their parents are because the outcry after the NFL embarrassment has been mixed. Hopefully they will discover for themselves that disrespect for America is unacceptable even if they learn a different lesson at home or in the classroom.
There are a few other lessons they should learn about how things work in this country that will help to explain the trend towards national disrespect. Smart kids will eventually figure these out for themselves. The rest will grow up to be Democrats.
1. Public figures show disrespect for America because they are starved for attention
Nothing puts you on the front page quicker than a showy display of disrespect. Refusing to stand for the national anthem or making a scene with an anti-American gesture is a sure fire attention-getter for those who value publicity more than the truth.
2. Wealth is not a cure for stupidity
The problem with being rich isn’t that wealth needs to be taxed away. It’s that wealth is not a cure for stupidity no matter how many millions we pump into celebrity bank accounts. Money doesn’t make you smart, just rich. It doesn’t teach you to tell the difference between irresponsible propaganda and the truth.
3. There is no shame in being grateful
The shame lies in denigrating what gave you everything you should be grateful for, like a professional sports contract, millions earned playing pretend on the silver screen, or an overflowing bank account for promoting yourself as an activist reverend who defends the poor.
4. Good people do stupid things, but being stupid doesn’t make people good
Sometimes police misbehave. They make mistakes. Sometimes famous people do stupid things, too. That doesn’t make all famous people bad. What makes them bad is the self-righteousness we have to listen to when they try to justify their actions. Even if the president offers a nod to your behavior because it is your right as an American it doesn’t make you a civil rights icon. You are still just a spoiled, overindulged prima donna.
5. Politicians do bad things
It’s hard to forgive politicians for anything. In this instance Democrats have a lot to answer for. They are in large part responsible for the myth of minority oppression by a white police state.
When it comes to politicians, just teach your children the story about the old woman and the snake. If you raise them right, in time they will understand.
UPDATE September 23, 2017: Trump, NFL redefine respect
It’s football season again and one year since Colin Kaepernick took to his knee during the national anthem. Disrespect for America has turned to a war of words between Donald Trump and the NFL after an injudicious presidential tweet threw fuel on the fire. Would someone please change the password to his Twitter account?
Sports Illustrated reported the rhetorical battle on its website,1 including the pointless retort from the NFL questioning who is disrespecting who.
NFL boss Roger Goodell is wrong about this one. There is a big difference between respect for football, which is a big moneymaker but just a game, and respect for America despite our flaws. The National Anthem isn’t about Donald Trump. Refusing to respect what it represents disrespects America.
If professional athletes don’t like it here they should hop on the next plane out with Hollywood’s complaining cognoscenti. We don’t need them.
UPDATE September 24, 2017: DC’s Redskins are still with us
The NFL isn’t special. Bashing Donald Trump is de rigueur fun for famous personalities in different walks of life. Sometimes celebrities cross the line. When they do, we call them on it.
A little simple respect for a country that allows you to make millions playing a game doesn’t seem like a lot to ask, but it doesn’t seem fair to take the PC stance on one skin color and ignore others.
The debate over the name for the NFL team representing Washington, D.C. has dragged on for years, with members of the House throwing their weight into the argument. ‘Redskins’ hasn’t gone away, a fact not lost in recent remarks by D.C. House member Eleanor Holmes Norton:
The Washington football team name mocks and insults Native Americans and does not deserve to be associated with the proud and welcoming city of Washington, D.C. By kowtowing to Daniel Snyder, the National Football League (NFL) is equally complicit in his team’s shameful use of a racist slur that has no place in today’s society.3
Any players kneeling in protest?
UPDATE September 25, 2017: respect for victim of Tennessee shooting
While Americans obsessed over Trump v. the NFL, a church shooting in Tennessee at the hands of an immigrant from state sponsor of terrorism Sudan left a woman dead. Seven others were wounded. A federal civil rights investigation is in the works, an unusual announcement given that the victim is white and so much public angst is directed at America’s treatment of minority communities.
There are no riots reported from Tennessee last night. I’m not aware of any observances or moments of silence during Sunday’s football games, either. Instead, the nation’s attention was focused on how best to vent our disrespect for Trump.
1. Becoats, Kellen. “NFL Players Respond to Trump’s Comments on Anthem Protesters.” Sports Illustrated. September 23, 2017. https://www.si.com/nfl/2017/09/22/nfl-players-respond-donald-trump-anthem-protesters, retrieved September 23, 2017.
2. “Ahead of Season Opener, Norton Condemns Washington Football Team for Racist Name.” Eleanor Holmes Norton. September 8, 2017. https://norton.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/ahead-of-season-opener-norton-condemns-washington-football-team-for, retrieved September 24, 2017.