STAND UP OR SHIP OUT

Recently, I’ve analyzed the origins of the NFL’s national anthem controversy. I reiterate: When Colin Kaepernick started this, he told NFL.com kneeling was deliberately to NOT show respect for the flag of America.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has sent a letter to all 32 teams pleading for a league-wide resolution to get players to stand for the anthem, less than a month after Goodell orchestrated a weekend of NFL “unity” that encouraged players to do whatever they felt like doing at the moment.

There’s little reason to even try to spin this change in Goodell’s approach as anything other than a surrender to reality.

Weeks ago, Goodell was pushing back against statements by President Donald Trump, noting that the comments showed a “lack of respect” for the NFL.

You might not have seen it then, but that was the moment Goodell lost the debate. He explicitly said the problem was a lack of respect for the NFL, when the President and most Americans were more concerned about the NFL’s lack of respect for the United States.

People who support NFL kneelers have no shortage of excuses for the behavior. And they all fall short.

This is because of what the anthem means. It is symbolic of a dedication to America. In the United States in 2017, there is great diversity in terms of of our worldviews, experiences, and abilities.

Only one thing truly unites us: Honoring America.

This requires respect for the nation, which United States citizens are expected to believe is the greatest country in the world. The honor is so profound that even citizens of other countries will stand for our anthem showing respect.

This is precisely why stadium announcers ask the spectators to “rise to honor America.”

Spectators are asked to rise. Players are expected to rise.

If you kneel in protest during the anthem, you are not honoring America. That’s why America has turned against you.

It doesn’t mean your concerns and grievances don’t matter. But today you have unprecedented access to the people. You can run for office if this matters so much to you.

If you cannot articulate your message to Americans through direct engagement, you won’t communicate it by not rising to honor America.

You’re going to start standing when the national anthem plays before your game, or one way or the other, you’re not going to be playing the game.

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UNITE OR DIVIDE PART II

Consider this the second part of a blog I wrote in 2011 when Gabby Giffords was shot. It was the one where I appealed for “unity.”

That question has long been answered. There is no “unity.”

President Trump has address the shooting in Las Vegas and offered words of compassion and comfort. If you seek those things, hear him. He can offer you those things. I cannot. Not in this world, in this life, at least.

Consider the reality that media has portrayed to you recently.

They were talking every day about Nazis and fascism, using them to try and define restrictive limits on freedom of speech (“You can’t yell ‘wolf’ in a crowded theater” as Nancy Pelosi observed).

They went from that to endorsing the free speech of athletes. This was because NFL players were kneeling during the anthem in protest of police shooting unarmed citizens.

From there, it was all about Puerto Rico. Wall to wall theatrics in a thinly (if at all) veiled attempt to portray it as “Trump’s Katrina.”

Today, the media is pushing gun control (again). They are mocking “thoughts and prayers” which is common expression of sympathy used by public figures during tragedies.

Most of the trends on Twitter this morning were related to the Las Vegas shooting directly or indirectly. Puerto Rico hashtags and trends disappeared completely, leaving the mayor of San Juan without places to do interviews wearing custom printed hats and shirts.

So the recent narrative went just like this:

1) Criticize freedom of speech because fascists might use it.
2) Advocate freedom of speech because athletes might use it.
3) Raise awareness that police officers might shoot unarmed citizens.
4) Tell Trump that Puerto Rico is his Katrina whenever he questions people kneeling for item #3.
5) Forget Puerto Rico exists and advocate gun control, which would increase the likelihood of police officers shooting unarmed civilians that was undesirable in item #3.

The “party of science” has abandoned all the logical underpinnings on which science depends. They are angry because they can’t win elections anymore. Their best idea is to double down on the things that keep costing them elections.

If we really wanted unity, we’d ban the Democrat party. Wherever there has been strife in America since the mid 1800’s, they’ve been right there creating or promoting it.

We won’t ban it. For the same reason we didn’t use the first nuclear weapons to prevent anyone else from ever having them.

It’s not in line with the ideals of America. Even though the Democrat Party will attack those core ideals if that’s how the morning coin flip goes. Even when all they have to offer is resistance and obstruction, we suffer their existence.

At some point, that might very well be the death of us all.

There is no unity with those who don’t want to be united with America in 2017 any more than they did in the 1800’s.

Misery persists until they are completely and permanently defeated.

FLAG ON THE FIELD: WHY THEY KNEEL

A black hockey player from Canada was asked if he would kneel during the United States anthem. His answer was NEVER, citing respect.

NHL gained a lot of fans this week because several notable hockey personalities were respectful to the United States. The kindness and professionalism hockey players demonstrated means a LOT to us.

Contrast this with the behavior of Jaguars and Ravens players Sunday in England. They honored that country when they stood for “God Save the Queen.”

But they knelt during AMERICA’s National Anthem.

American citizens, in another country, embarrassing the United States. That set the tone for the disastrous and divisive weekend that followed, as their misguided cohorts on other NFL teams would soon find progressively inflammatory ways to offend our patriotism, our character, and even our intelligence.

Why? Why did they kneel?

Several reasons have been offered:

1) PROTEST

The first time that Colin Kapernick knelt during the anthem in 2016, he was asked by NFL.com why he was doing it and what it meant.

He answered: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

More elaboration specified police brutality, and Kaepernick wore socks depicting cartoon police pigs.

So the Kaepernick position cannot be rationalized with respect for the country or its institutions. Kaepernick specifically told us he was kneeling to dishonor the flag and country. IT WAS THE ENTIRE POINT.

2) SOLIDARITY WITH KAEPERNICK

Many of the kneelers sported shirts or used hashtags online to say “I’m with Kap” because Kapernick was not signed by any teams for 2017, despite NFL.com pushing so hard for him to be.

When the alternative locking of arms was used, Kapernick supporters often mocked them. It was always known and explicitly stated that this was a PROTEST.

Whether someone kneeling to support Kaepernick intends the same deliberate dishonor he did is irrelevant. If the flag and country don’t mean more to you than the employment of a man EVERY NFL team REFUSED to sign, then your disregard for the flag and country is of no more value to the nation than Kaepernick’s explicit anti-American sentiment.

3) KNEELS FOR FEELS

Mike Tomlin, who raised funds for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary, told the media Sunday that some of his players wouldn’t stand because of “the comments of the President.”

If you can’t make your players do something important that they’ve always done because their feelings got hurt, maybe they shouldn’t be playing, and you probably shouldn’t be coaching.

Just like the “I’m with Kap” angle, this demonstrates such a callous disregard for America that it is functionally no better than active disrespect.

I would remind Tomlin that so many of us hated Obama and Hillary. Obama and Hillary routinely targeted us with a litany of insults. We didn’t desecrate the national anthem ceremony. Unlike Kaepernick, we responded on Election Day.

4) EVERYONE ELSE WAS DOING IT

It’s interesting that the most common complaint of kneelers is the criminal justice system. Because some of the players who were kneeling this weekend are not in prison because their court trials went in their favor.

One of those was Ray Lewis.

Lewis said he knelt Sunday because the young guys were doing it. Yes, he said that.

Previously Lewis had discouraged Kaepernick’s actions, so his kneeling on Sunday against the anthem was especially noteworthy, and not received well by many longtime Kaepernick supporters.

In an attempt to elaborate with some substance, Lewis cited concern for mothers of black men killed by police (I think), describing them as “families who sacrificed everything.” If that wasn’t an intentional stab at military families, I wonder what words he would have chosen if such WERE his intent.

So Lewis did it because young players were doing it. Some of them were doing it because Kaepernick did it.

And when Kaepernick did it, he called it NOT “standing up to honor” a country’s flag.

So it doesn’t really matter WHY you feel or say you are kneeling.

The act always was, and always will be, perceived as the dishonor Kaepernick intended.

FLAG ON THE FIELD: THIS BLACK LIFE DID NOT MATTER

It was 2013.

Much of the nation’s attention was on Obamacare, which had entered the phase of true implementation. Democrats had literally accepted a government shutdown in order to prevent Republicans from changing the law or even delaying the implementation. During the shutdown, there was wall-to-wall media coverage of various things Democrats were doing to highlight the shutdown and blame it on Republicans trying to prevent Obamacare’s implementation. So ALL eyes were now on the implementation.

The disastrous implementation made most Americans forget the shutdown. It ultimately cost the HHS Secretary her position. It forced President Obama, angry and annoyed, to walk out and address why people were having their health insurance cancelled, after being promised they could keep them “no matter what.”

Around this time, a young black mother who worked in health care, drove up to the White House, with her small child in the back seat.

She was told to stop the car, but instead she pulled out and drove away from the White House.

She was shot and killed by Capitol Police. Her child survived.

The late woman’s name was Miriam Carey.

Media acknowledgement of this incident lasted about a day. Then, except for a few brief scattered followups, all acknowledgement of it disappeared, and Miriam Carey was forgotten by everyone except people who knew her…and people like me, who that maybe a citizen with a small child in her car being shot dead by police in DC deserved more attention than it got, and maybe a little discussion.

But no politicians demanded investigations. No Democrats wore hoodies. No journalists put their hands up. There were no theatrics over Miriam Carey. She was simply forgotten.

And NO NFL players kneeled during anthems to remember her.

Which leads to my primary question: When Colin Kaepernick started kneeling (because, in his own words per NFL.com, he REFUSED to SUPPORT A COUNTRY that mistreats blacks), did he think of Miriam Carey? Did he know who she was?

The only time I know of Carey showing up in any #BlackLivesMatter lists on Twitter was when I trolled them and added her name and tricked someone into retweeting it.

Al Green, a Democrat in Congress, plans to try to IMPEACH President Trump, specifically for using language that offended mothers of anti-American protesters like Kaepernick.

Why does one black woman’s feelings justify impeachment of a President, while the killing of another black woman by police in DC mean absolutely nothing to Green and other members of Congress?

FLAG ON THE FIELD: WHY IS KNEELING OFFENSIVE?

Someone asked if I could explain why kneeling during the anthem to “protest systemic racism” is somehow “offensive.”

Let me try…ready?

1)
The announcer says “Please rise to honor America.”

We good?

2)
The NFL rule book says players must be on the field and do as the announcer says. Ok?

Perhaps a possible improvement could be that the rule book needs revision, or it could just be renamed “suggestions book” or “recommendations book” but such revisions haven’t yet been made.

Got all that so far?

3)
Neither the rule book nor the announcer says “rise to honor America if you aren’t opposed to systemic racism.”

Actually, the announcer doesn’t really give ANY valid reason for not rising.

Those are two really important facts that you may have overlooked. You might already be close to your “a-ha” moment.

4)
If not, then pay close attention to this point:

IF YOU DELIBERATELY DO THE OPPOSITE OF “RISE TO HONOR AMERICA” the only rational perception is that you are DISHONORING America.

Let me know if any part of that is still tripping you up.

5)
If kneeling ISN’T dishonoring America then the announcer should say “please stand OR kneel to honor America.”

Note: South Park already visualized what that might look like. It’s on YouTube. Hope that helps!

Wait…what’d you say?

They knelt…BEFORE the anthem played…?

Interesting…

Did the announcer say “please respect the ownership and players as they kneel together against institutional racism” or some such?

Because if he didn’t, I’m guessing that most people didn’t see it as kneeling against systemic racism.

The “breaking” tweets were NOT going to say “Jerry Jones kneels PRIOR to the anthem.”

Twitter is 140 characters. Less with images. There’s not much room for fine print and disclaimers.

No, after the stunts pulled by other teams that blew up in their faces, people didn’t expect “Jerry Jones kneels” to be trending. A lot of eyes were on Jones, because he had previously warned players that if they didn’t stand for the anthem, they (or at least one body part) would be off the team.

Instead, people saw Jones kneeling as “unity.”

Unity with Colin Kaepernick who depicted police as pigs on his socks.

Unity with Goodell who shamed the owners for not hiring Kaepernick after that.

Unity with those who knelt for America’s anthem but stood up for England’s.

You know, I’m starting to think that if you have to spend so much effort explaining WHY you’re not kneeling for the reasons most people watching a game are likely to perceive that you are…maybe kneeling anywhere close to the anthem isn’t the best avenue for your message.

Which is exactly what many of us have warned for a while now.

FLAG ON THE FIELD, PART FOUR

Note: I may have repeatedly spelled Colin KAEPERNICK’s name incorrectly.

I think I got confused about the spelling because there was a hashtag #ImWithKap that was going around.

Given that people are now saying so many contradictory things to justify the #TakeAKnee debacle now that it’s blown up in their face, it’s quite fitting that those #WithKap should unwittingly encourage the misspelling of his name.

As I pointed out in my last blog, the entire controversy over Kapernick’s unemployment is entirely the result of the NFL universe operating as normal. No person who puts their life on the line for these players or even pays to see them play should have to suffer through this ridiculous drama because 32 NFL teams wouldn’t hire Kaepernick and Goodell felt like he needed to shame them into it…and after all of this…still COULD NOT DO IT.

So just to recap, the entire Kaepernick controversy started because Colin and his teammate Eric Reid began kneeling during the anthem to protest blacks being killed by police. Eric Reid got to explain in a New York Times op-ed that “faith” led them to do this.

Today we’re being assured that it’s not a slam against the military or the national anthem. The Cleveland Browns recently locked arms with police and I’m assuming none of the players were wearing Kap-inspired police pig socks at that time.

It’s difficult to tell where the players doing this to protest against police leaves off and solidarity with the still unemployed Kaepernick takes over.

And for every single thing you read on Twitter about “we aren’t doing it as an attack on the military (or police when they’re holding hands with you?) or the country” YOU WILL FIND PEOPLE EXPRESSING SUPPORT FOR #TakeAKnee BECAUSE THEY SAW IT as a protest against America, the military, and whatever else their grievance was.

You simply cannot reasonably do the deliberate opposite of what the announcer says asks you to do to “honor America” and think it won’t be construed as dishonoring America. PERIOD.

I want you to take note of the volumes of text that have been pressed and propagated to explain the “real reason” for the kneeling.

WHY didn’t they spend that effort reaching out to people with their ACTUAL message from the start?

The only logical explanation is that these rationales being offered are simply retroactive continuity for damage control after the backlash.

FLAG ON THE FIELD, PART THREE

Kapernick’s plight began because he failed to observe the governing equation in his universe. That equation compares a player’s on-field value to the trouble he creates. A net positive value can make you a gridiron legend. A net negative likely makes you a footnote in a stat book.

On-field value is measured…on the field. Wins. Stats. Tangibles of that sort. The noteworthy part is that NO ONE remains in the league because of what they do OFF the field. Once you’re no longer contributing more tangibles than those behind you on the depth chart, you’re history. Players can create no tangible value off the field.

But players can easily create trouble that negates their value ON and OFF the field.

Last night we say Richard Sherman acting like a maniac and creating a fight on the field. He’ll probably get fined a negligible amount. Anything more than a one-game suspension is unlikely. Sherman was trending on Twitter because of that, but he was also trending because of his commentary regarding President Trump, saying if you don’t condemn Trump’s action, you condone them. Does Sherman apply that same standard to himself? Unlikely. Sherman recently trended for saying he was better at life than Skip Bayless.

But the net result of all that is minimal, because Sherman is still a productive player.

It’s important to note that Kapernick’s team, the 49ers, has suspended players for offending people with speech off the field. They suspended at least one player for comments about gays…a decade before gay marriage was legal everywhere.

With all these things in consideration, realize that the 49ers were probably trying to determine if Kapernick’s antics regarding police were helpful or hurtful in their community. So Kapernick’s “trouble” potential was being evaluated. His value as a player was also being calculated.

At the end of the season, the 49ers made the decision every team makes about every player’s net value. They determined he was not valuable enough to keep and did not re-sign him.

The offseason generated reasonable questions: If a city like San Francisco doesn’t value Colin enough to hire him…would any others?

We know the answer now: No, they wouldn’t.

Enter Goodell and his desire for absolute control.

The NFL and its media spent an extraordinary amount of attention to Kapernick. While it occasionally took the opportunity to taunt Tim Tebow for his baseball progress, it spent the vast majority of its inactive player attention on Kapernick. In daily updates they shamed the teams for not signing him. One often-repeated headline actually contained the phrase “that’s a shame.”

So any debate about Kapernick’s productivity versus his negatives
is irrational. The 49ers answered it by not re-signing him. Then 31 other teams confirmed that finding.

None of that had to do with Trump. None of the issue with Kapernick’s status has to do with anyone outside the league.

More than anything, this situation that has exploded upon the NFL is the result of Goodell’s autocratic attempts to force teams to do what he wants.

FLAG ON THE FIELD, PART TWO

Continuing our theme, we need to be clear about the two men who have brought to the NFL the troubles currently plaguing it: Colin Kapernick and Roger Goodell.

Sure, the President gets credit for bringing the situation to head, but it’s been brewing for some time. If anything, President Trump shortened the proverbial war and saved millions of proverbial lives by utilizing his position to force the NFL to reckon with its brazen hypocrisy on the matter.

That Kapernick and Goodell are to blame is beyond debate, because both of them did their part BEFORE Trump was elected.

As a standard-bearer for a cause, Kapernick is no more reliable than he was an NFL quarterback. While many people have since latched onto Kapernick, it’s important to remember that he was on record rejecting Donald Trump AND Hillary Clinton as worthy of his vote for President, so he didn’t vote. Couple that with his potential to inflame the situation
by depicting cops as pigs with his socks, and you begin to see clearly that he was merely bringing the controversy around police onto the field. That was often in view of police who had never been charged with anything except being ready to risk their lives for his safety if necessary. So Kapernick was only ever grandstanding for his own whims, doing whatever he wanted, not caring about consequences.

Kapernick’s ENTIRE message can be resolved down to a simple axiom: “Due process is not sufficient to achieve justice for black men.”

However, he forgets that Ravens legend Ray Lewis was once on trial for killing someone. There was definitely a time it appeared he might be convicted. He wasn’t. Around that same time, Rae Carruth was convicted and sentenced for shooting his pregnant girlfriend. Two black men playing in the NFL. Two men accused of crimes. One was convicted. One was not.
Rae Carruth was released by his team and it’s possible this is the first time you ever heard his name. Ray Lewis was welcomed back to the Ravens and became their most iconic player.

The due process system seemed to work fine for the NFL back then. Because it determined which player the NFL reveres and which one it forgot, in the case of Lewis and Carruth.

The NFL accepted justice by due process.

But Kapernick wasn’t actually facing any charges himself. He was simply creating controversy.

But he was also charging full speed to unemployment…

FLAG ON THE FIELD – PART ONE

As you may know, I spent time over the summer building a website to track the success of two fantasy football teams. After this weekend’s theatrics by the NFL, I have suspended that endeavor indefinitely, likely permanently.

There was not a shred of political anything on that site. I once considered making the statement that experts making predictions should have not split their time between the predictions and “trying to find a job for Colin Kapernick.”

I didn’t.

Even so, politics came crashing down on the league, and my site, as a result of the seed Kapernick planted in the league.

I should have seen it. The current NFL leadership sees the league as one part business, one part social justice advocacy. And by “social justice” it means the “right person wins.” To hell with the system, laws, and with you if you disagree with the Commissioner, who decides who the right person is.

If the NFL is opposed to “fascism” that opposition isn’t based on philosophy. It’s territorial. The NFL will not accept other fascism to encroach on its own fascism.

Strong words? Yep. Can I back them up? We’ll see.

Notice I didn’t say the NFL were Nazis. I said current NFL leadership uses an approach that is mechanically similar to a fascist approach of brutal autocracy that does what it wants, when and how it wants, without any consideration for reason or tolerance of dissent.

Of course my reaction is to the NFL’s full-throated endorsement of Colin Kapernick. He WAS an NFL player who last season garnered headlines for kneeling during the National Anthem. He said he did it to protest injustice. Specifically that injustice meant police killing black people, the origin of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Kapernick was seen socks that featured pigs with police hats.

The NFL had a decision to make. It made an unforced error. It could simply have enforced its own rule book that says players must participate in the anthem. The announcer says at the beginning of the anthem “please rise to honor America” with a display of the flag in what has become a very military-oriented display since 9/11. If you deliberately do the opposite of rise, you can’t be viewed as “honoring America.”

None of the owners hired Kapernick this season, despite daily demands from the NFL and media.

That’s how we got to this point over the weekend that you had a Steelers team cowering in a tunnel behind veteran Alejandro Villanueva, who became a national hero for simply refusing to dishonor the flag for which he fought.

The videos of people burning Steeler jerseys can all be traced to the the behavior of two men: Colin Kapernick and Roger Goodell.

We’ll explore this in more detail this week.

THE DOTARD PRINCIPLE

Today I want to introduce you to something I’m calling “The Dotard Principle.” The name I chose for it is is new, but the principle itself is very old.

The leaders of North Korea have been explicitly threatening the United States and staging demonstrations of the country’s progress toward backing up their threats for at least two decades. Both the 43rd and 44th American Presidents directly acknowledged the North Korean threat by name.

The 45th President took a bit of a harsher tone, referring to the cure leader of North Korea as “Rocket Man.” Rocket Man responded by calling POTUS 45 a “dotard” which basically means “crazy old man.”

Critics of POTUS 45 took to social media to join in and propagate the insult, as well as to congratulate and thank Rocket Man for introducing them to a brand new word they could use to taunt people who disagree with them.

That is “The Dotard Principle” in action. It’s born of a worldview that you, or some person you consider enlightened, is the rightful arbiter of reality itself.

What happened is simple. Rocket Man threatened the United States. The United States responded. The Supreme Leader of North Korea is called that for a reason. He believes he is right to do what he wants and is above reproach. Critics of POTUS 45 can relate to that, because that worldview syncs nicely with their own.

Currently, those same critics are busy trying to prove that Russia influenced the outcome of the 2016 election. This has always been an interesting narrative.

First, these critics have no issues with past examples of some of their most revered politicians seeking help from other countries, including Russia, to try and defeat opponents they couldn’t beat alone. Further, they not only accept, but welcome, perhaps even demand that American media and corporations get involved in the election on behalf of the “right person.”

Second, the “Russia hacked us” narrative was a prominent theme of the 2016 campaign. Voters unaware of that message were likely not plugged into society enough to come out and vote. The narrative was rejected by a majority of American states. It only mattered then, as it does now, because the establishment candidate lost.

But that’s The Dotard Principle, which the American “resistance” shares with a North Korean dictator…it means only what I want matters, and to hell with anyone who disagrees.