It is no surprise that today’s political and social climate is filled with high tension and polarized sides. It’s cliche and repetitive, but the root of many of these issues revolves around misplaced judgment and hypocrisy. One of the highlighted issues right now is players kneeling during the national anthem.
During the 2016 NFL season, quarterback Colin Kaepernick (now unemployed) began kneeling during the national anthem as a symbol to remind the nation of the oppression and prejudice minorities face in this country every day. While he has been criticized, players from most teams joined him in kneeling for the anthem. Across the country, from the NFL to JV High School football sidelines, players were kneeling for the anthem.
Those who disapprove letting the players kneel during the anthem have started grand motions to boycott the NFL. The Facebook page, “1,000,000 Americans Boycotting the NFL” has built up a cult following with 101 thousand followers (ironic, but that is beside the point). Publications such as Breitbart push for similar movements boycotting the NFL. The highest liked comment on a Breitbart Facebook post regarding players kneeling during the anthem went as far as calling the NFL the “N***** Football League.”
People are up in arms in the protest against the kneeling of the anthem. A majority of these so-called “boycotters” are predominantly older white men and women. The fierceness and passion they have exhibited against the anthem kneelers is almost to the point at which it is admirable. But my question is- why fight for this?
These NFL boycotters and protesters claim to fight for a better and more proud America. However, where were these people when multiple videos of unarmed minorities were slaughtered at the hands of poorly trained police officers? Where were they when white supremacists were marching down the streets of Charlottesville? Where were they when our President called several predominantly black countries, “s***hole countries?” Where was their uproar and vocality when clear injustices were happening on a seemingly regular basis?
The fact that so many people are willing to get so much more fired up about NFL players protesting the anthem as a reminder for the oppression against minorities in this country is outright disturbing. If one thinks that white privilege is not a thing and that minorities are not treated fairly here then they need to get outside of their bubble of ignorance.
Luckily, our President of seemingly unprecedented moral character had the opportunity to unify this increasingly polarized nation with one thing we can all agree on: Nazis and white supremacists are bad. But wait, Mr. Trump tossed the American people a curveball with his comment that there were “some very fine people on both sides,” when talking about the marches in Charlottesville. In such a time where political parties are so polarized and tensions are flaring regularly, one would hope that the leader of the nation could at least unify the nation with the disapproval of Nazis.
The President was at least able to use some strong words against one controversial group: Anthem protesters, calling them “son of a b****[es].” Some of these players have overcome unbelievable hardships and upbringings to succeed at the highest level of the sport they love. But it is nice to know that our President has stronger words for those protesting for equal treatment in this nation than literal Nazis.
Political activism, especially from both sides, builds our democracy and often leads to change for the better. I think it is fair to argue that there are more effective and compelling ways to be a catalyst for social change than kneeling at a football game. But when people are so focused on attacking the moral character of those who feel oppressed in the very same nation they call home, then problems arise.
Everyone is not going to agree on everything. But when it is on the matter of social justice and fair treatment of all, then there should be no argument.