by John F. Di Leo -
Reflections on the meaning behind an NFL insult...
Professional football players started refusing to stand for the National Anthem during the 2016 season, and it began as just a trickle of weirdos like Colin Kaepernick… but by late September, 2017, hundreds of pro football players were kneeling down during the National Anthem that begins the game, or even refusing to leave their locker room for it.
This is obviously an issue for football players, owners, and fans. But some have asked why non-football fans care about it at all, much as theatergoers ask why what happens in a play or movie concerns those who don’t attend, or why childless adults care what goes on in the schools.
The answer is that it matters to us all, because this is about more than a single game or a single event. It is about our culture. And in addition, it matters because this particular activity is based on, and reinforces, a number of absolutely wrong beliefs, so, the longer we tolerate this activity, the more those wrong beliefs will become entrenched.
Everything that these kneeling players believe is backward, or worse. We must correct them, or their actions will continue to reinforce this wrongheadedness across the population.
The Myth of Racist Law Enforcement
This activity – the refusal to stand for the National Anthem at a football game – began as a player’s attempt to inanely demonstrate his disapproval of the imagined crisis in law enforcement with which his political party had filled his head for years. The protests that began in Ferguson, MO and soon spread to other cities, giving birth to Black Lives Matter, the Mothers of the Movement, and other such offshoots, are all based on one belief: that black Americans are routinely abused by the criminal justice system just for being black.
It’s a lie.
In fact, black Americans are arrested for violent crimes, pursued for violent crimes, and occasionally injured or killed by police in hot pursuit after violent crimes… for one reason and one reason only: statistically, black Americans commit such crimes in higher numbers than most other demographic groups. Commit more crimes, you’ll get pursued more often. Want to stop having problems with law enforcement? Stop committing crimes.
It has nothing to do with them being black. It has to do with a community being raised in dependence on government welfare, in “families” without a working father at their head. It has to do with living in government housing, attending dangerous government schools, in neighborhoods filled with drug dealing gangs. It has to do with generational poverty, in a system that rewards sloth and punishes achievement. Put whites, Asians, or any other ethnic group in those conditions, and you’ll see similar results.
In fact, American law enforcement is on the side of law-abiding blacks, more than any other group. Our police are the ones who go into neighborhoods that the rest of us avoid, daring to try to apprehend the robbers, rapists, gang recruiters and drug dealers who terrorize black neighborhoods. Officers don’t see race; they protect the innocent victims from those who would do them harm.
Is there anyone out there who’s actively anti-black? Certainly, but it’s not the law enforcement community. It’s the Democratic Party, which rules the inner cities almost unanimously, and forces the almost-inescapable welfare state upon these communities. It’s the Democratic Party that punishes people who try to break free of public housing and food stamp dependence, forcing them to stay in the dangerous government schools, and worst of all, insists on much-too-short jail terms so that violent criminals are always returned to their communities as soon as possible to terrorize them again.
But that truth would reflect poorly on the Democrats who lead these communities, so they spread the myth, and claim that the law enforcement community is anti-black.
The First Amendment
We are told that these players are merely taking advantage of their First Amendment rights by refusing to stand for the Anthem.
It’s a lie.
This has nothing to do with the First Amendment. Nothing whatsoever.
Nobody is telling them they can't write all the op-eds they want... or give all the speeches they want to their local Rotary clubs or YMCAs... or buy commercial time to run their own ads saying whatever lying leftwing poppycock they feel like spreading.
The First Amendment protects people from fear of the federal government forbidding them from doing any of that. But nobody is denying them that right.
In fact, they're not even TRYING to do any of that.
As far as anyone knows, these players haven't even ATTEMPTED to exercise their First Amendment rights at all. All they've done is to repeatedly hijack their employers' time to publicly insult their audience, their countrymen, and their nation.
The First Amendment protects you on your own time. It doesn't let you politicize an unpolitical job in which you work for someone else. The First Amendment neither authorizes NOR bans this “kneeling” practice.
It's simply not relevant.
There’s much more to this too… and if this were indeed a First Amendment issue, we might spill some ink explaining how the government guarantees your right to buy ad time, to print newspapers, or to appear on your own time before a willing audience, but the government doesn’t guarantee you that audience. The government won’t fund your mailings or pack a hall for you to speak to. That’s all up to you.
What you do on your employer’s dime isn’t a First Amendment issue at all.
In fact, this is nothing but a hijacking.
Hijacking on the Field
Consider a plane trip.
It's perfectly legal to take classes, get a license, and fly a plane wherever you want, if you buy or rent the plane, and obey the rules set by the Air Traffic Controllers.
It's also perfectly legal to buy a seat on someone else’s plane, and go where that plane is scheduled to go.
...but it's NOT legal to buy a seat on a scheduled trip, and then FORCE the pilot to go somewhere else.
This group of NFL players are doing exactly that. They're hired to play football, and they're now hijacking a game to make a political protest that has no business whatsoever at that event.
Now, how the National Football League deals with it is entirely up to the League. The national government has no role in this (and barring some unlikely local city council action, neither do other levels of government). The owners, the players, their broadcast partners, their often heavily taxpayer-subsidized stadium authorities, their sponsors and other marketing partners, need to work together and decide whether they would rather put an end to this quickly (it may already be too late for them), or just sit by while a renegade group of players utterly destroys their fan base and, likely, their entire industry.
Football was already in some trouble, because of the sport’s intrinsic health risks and the incredible cost of tickets… but this hijacking of the opening moments of every nationally televised game has exacerbated football’s already-challenging problems a hundredfold.
(Author's Note: Before anyone declares that this is an outrageous false equivalency... obviously I'm not saying that this is the same kind of offense as terrorists endangering a planeload of passengers. I am merely explaining that these people are taking a legitimate event and twisting it for their own purposes without the approval of either the company or its customers, and the appropriate term for that is "hijacking." - JFD)
The National Anthem
In 1814, American attorney Francis Scott Key was standing aboard a British ship (as a “guest”) during the Battle of Fort McHenry, in Baltimore harbor, during the War of 1812. Watching the battle from the perspective of an outsider, he was inspired to write a masterful poem, which was attached to an existing tune some years later. Eventually, the Star Spangled Banner became so popular as a testament to American patriotism that it was enshrined as our National Anthem.
The players who refuse to stand for the National Anthem claim to be doing so in order to object to some imperfect aspects of the country, but what they are really doing is not honorable but destructive:
Our National Anthem stands for the ideals of America. It doesn’t deny our faults – we are imperfect, as are all things on this earth – but it’s not about them. The Anthem represents the greatness of America: the vision of our Founding Fathers that still stands tall across time and space.
It has now been 230 years since the Constitutional Convention that established our current form of government. The United States of America – as a nation – represents the incarnation of both the libertarian philosophy of the Enlightenment and the best of Western Civilization, the marriage of Judeo-Christian beliefs and a practical economic system in which good, hardworking people can prosper, and be propelled as far forward as their industry and ability allow.
And as the nation represents those high themes, our National Anthem directly represents them as well.
When the National Anthem is played, whether at a sporting event or a political meeting, at a concert hall or a party convention, every American is inspired in the same way that Francis Scott Key was, over two centuries ago.
When Americans hear the Star Spangled Banner, we remember those days, long past, when the nation united to fight for independence from King George III. We remember fighting a civil war to end slavery, a world war to end national socialism, a cold war to end communism. While we didn’t have 100% success in all these efforts, we made great progress, and the brave people of our nation deserve credit for risking their lives and fortune for these worthy causes.
That’s what the National Anthem calls to mind. The soldiers and sailors who fought, the statesmen who led, the workers who struggled, the settlers who planted, the entrepreneurs who invented… the individuals and families, the missionaries and communities who crossed oceans, plains and mountain ranges to build the greatest nation on God’s green earth.
The National Anthem is inspirational, because it stands for our best – for both our greatest accomplishments and our greatest dreams, for the best of our people and the American spirit that lives within every man, woman and child who calls himself an American.
These ingrates in jerseys - these football players paid millions of dollars just to play a game – don’t realize this, and that’s not entirely their fault. Their education has been ghastly; their parents and communities have been derelict in their duty to inspire patriotism in their youth. The quality of public discourse has diminished in the past century...
…But their puppet masters do understand, all too well.
The political masterminds on the Left – the people who run BLM, Occupy, Antifa, and the rest – know exactly what they’re doing. They know that as long as the National Anthem inspires an audience to think of the greatness of America, they will have a hard time overturning it.
But if they can get Americans to unconsciously change how we see America… if they can get us to view our Flag and our Anthem, not as the symbols of the best we stand for, but rather, as the symbols of the worst that we tolerate… then they will be able to break us at last.
If our Anthem is somehow twisted... if it doesn’t stand for the 99% of police who risk their lives every day to save the jogger from the rapist, but for the 1% who sleeps through his guardianship or takes bribes from a barman… if our Anthem doesn’t stand for the workers and entrepreneurs who climb out of poverty into the middle class, but for those trapped in the welfare state… if our Anthem doesn’t stand for the millions we’ve saved from tyranny, but for the poor whom we couldn’t help…
…then the Left will have succeeded in their malicious goals at last.
The cause of the Left is to break down the American spirit, to convince the world that limited government doesn’t work, that people are evil and need to be ruled with the iron fist that only a Leftist bureaucratic state can wield.
That cause is the motivator, behind the scenes, every week as these NFL players get their marching orders.
That cause… the anti-American fervor of the Anti-American Left… is what directs these poor fools in shoulder pads and helmets to disrespect the Flag and the Anthem.
The reason our national reaction is so strong, so fierce, is that the public understands what’s going on, even if the politicians and media do not. These people - and their puppet-masters - are trying to destroy the American love of America that has welled up in our hearts for two and a half centuries.
And we must not let them win.
Copyright 2017 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based transportation and trade manager, writer and actor. His columns are regularly found in Illinois Review. Permission is hereby granted to forward freely, provided it is uncut and the IR URL and byline are included.