Conservatives Are On The Wrong Side Of The N.F.L. Anthem Debate

Conservatives claim to support freedom of speech and freedom of expression, but they've utterly failed that test when it comes to their reaction to players who peacefully and respectfully kneel during the National Anthem.

In an Op-Ed in The New York Times, David French argues that conservatives are putting themselves on the wrong side of the debate over the National Football League’s new anthem policy:

The United States is in the grips of a free-speech paradox. At the same time that the law provides more protection to personal expression than at any time in the nation’s history, large numbers of Americans feel less free to speak. The culprit isn’t government censorship but instead corporate, community and peer intimidation.

Conservatives can recite the names of the publicly shamed from memory. There was Brendan Eich, hounded out of Mozilla for donating to a California ballot initiative that defined marriage as the union of a man and woman. There was James Damore, abruptly terminated from Google after he wrote an essay attributing the company’s difficulty in attracting female software engineers more to biology and free choice than to systemic discrimination. On campus, the list is as long and grows longer every semester.

It is right to decry this culture of intolerance and advocate for civility and engagement instead of boycotts and reprisals. The cure for bad speech is better speech — not censorship. Take that message to the heartland, and conservatives cheer.

Until, that is, Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel. Until, that is, the president demanded that the N.F.L. fire the other players who picked up on his protest after he was essentially banished from the league.

That was when the conservative mob called for heads to roll. Conform or face the consequences.

On Wednesday, the mob won. The N.F.L. announced its anthem rules for 2018, and the message was clear: Respect the flag by standing for the national anthem or stay in the locker room. If you break the rules and kneel, your team can be fined for your behavior.

This isn’t a “middle ground,” as the N.F.L. claims. It’s not a compromise. It’s corporate censorship backed up with a promise of corporate punishment. It’s every bit as oppressive as the campus or corporate attacks on expression that conservatives rightly decry.

French is absolutely correct, of course. For the better part of a decade, if not longer, conservatives have been decrying the efforts of some groups on the left to prevent conservatives from speaking on college campuses, attacking people who argue in favor of conservatives point of view, and calling for boycotts of companies that have either distanced themselves from conservative causes or provided public support to liberal causes. Most recently, this has taken the form of people who have called for boycotts of retailers such as Dick’s Sporting Goods due to their decision to stop selling firearms to anyone under 21 years of age, and even calls for a boycott of Netflix for their decision to enter into a business relationship with former President Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama under which the couple will produce content for the streaming service. Going back even further, one can point to the attacks that the right unleashed on the Dixie Chicks for their criticism of President Bush and the Iraq War or, as French notes in his tweet, the conservative reaction to the case of Brandon Eich, who was forced out as CEO of Mozilla when it was revealed that he had donated to the campaign in favor of Proposition 8, the California referendum that reinstated the Golden State’s ban on same-sex marriage.

As French notes, in many of these cases voices on the right have loudly condemned what they see as the efforts of private companies and public universities to cave into the demands of liberal activists to shut down conservative speech such as when Rutgers University caved to students and rescinded the invitation it had granted to former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to deliver the Commencement Address in 2014, an action that even President Barack Obama criticized. That case, of course, was just one example of many instances in which a small group of student and outside activists have tried to stop conservative and libertarian voices from speaking on campus. Others who have been impacted by this activism have included Charles Murray, Ann Coulter, former writer for Breitbart Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Ingraham, and others. In several of these cases, of course, most especially Coulter and Yannopoulos, the protests were motivated in no small part

As French notes, though, that commitment to freedom of expression disappeared entirely when Colin Kaepernick and other N.F.L. players began respectfully kneeling during the National Anthem. After President Trump inserted himself into the debate by calling the players who were kneeling sons of bitches and calling on team owners to fire players if they kneel, the right reflexively, and rather predictably, abandoned any pretext of standing for freedom of expression. Instead, when the protests spread as player and owners united to support the players who chose to kneel, many on the right called for boycotts of the entire National Football League until the protests stopped. As French correctly points out this is at best hypocritical and at worst yet another sign of the extent to which Trump is changing the Republican Party and conservatism for the worse.

In his Op-Ed, French points approvingly to the Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. In that case, during the height of World War II when patriotism and national unity were seen as highly important, the Justices were asked to deal with a state law that required all public school students to salute the American flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The case was originally brought by two sisters who were, along with the other members of their families, Jehovah’s Witnesses who objected to being required to salute the flag. Writing for a 6-3 majority, Justice Robert Jackson said this:

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

As French goes on to note, the National Football League isn’t the government, and neither are Google, Dick’s Sporting Goods, or private universities that have been the subject of conservative criticism for the instances of apparent censorship or punishment of people for expressing conservative points of view. Additionally, private citizens are free to criticize or shame whoever they wish because of what they say publicly. That being said, he’s also correct when he points out when he says that the debate shouldn’t end there:

But what should they do? Should they use their liberty to punish dissent? Or should a free people protect a culture of freedom?

In our polarized times, I’ve adopted a simple standard, a civil liberties corollary to the golden rule: Fight for the rights of others that you would like to exercise yourself. Do you want corporations obliterating speech the state can’t touch? Do you want the price of participation in public debate to include the fear of lost livelihoods? Then, by all means, support the N.F.L. Cheer Silicon Valley’s terminations. Join the boycotts and shame campaigns. Watch this country’s culture of liberty wither in front of your eyes.

The vice president tweeted news of the N.F.L.’s new policy and called it “#Winning.” He’s dead wrong. It diminishes the marketplace of ideas. It mocks the convictions of his fellow citizens. And it divides in the name of a false, coerced uniformity. Writing in the Barnette decision, Justice Jackson wisely observed, “As governmental pressure toward unity becomes greater, so strife becomes more bitter as to whose unity it shall be.”

As French goes on to say, the N.F.L. should let players kneel during the National Anthem if they choose to. They aren’t doing anything disruptive and, as I’ve stated before, they are trying to bring attention to important issues that have largely been swept under the rug. The new policy is made even worse by the fact that it was implemented in the face of obvious pressure from the top official in the Federal Government who has shamelessly exploited the issue to rile up his base and stoke racial tensions. The league, and the owners have proven themselves to be spinless, and conservatives have once again proven that their rhetoric about individual rights and freedom of speech and expression is nothing but words. The hypocrisy is obvious, and it doesn’t look good on them.

FILED UNDER: First Amendment, Media, Sports, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. teve tory says:

    Good post, doug. And the Robert Jackson quote is excellent.

    Good Jim Wright essay on Kaepernick

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  2. It is true that the NFL is not the government, and I certainly understand the First Amendment implications of that fact.

    Having said that, I think that this decision is actually far more sinister than left-wing activists on college campuses–not to defend the heckler’s veto that they have employed, but the reality is that ultimately have very little power. Yet, here we have billionaires making decisions at least in part at the behest of the POTUS. It also is not unimportant, from a symbolical POV, for this action to be undertaken by a bunch of old white guys who have the title of “owners” focusing on the behavior of predominantly African-Americans.

    The relative power of the actors matters, as does what kind of speech is being criticized.

    Not to mention: I am constantly amazed that the group that shouts “political correctness!” at every corner, and that loves to call their opponents “snowflakes” who need “safe spaces” can’t abide by some people kneeling during a song that most viewers are ignoring anyway.

    Further, again not defending the behavior, but protesting Milo’s attempt to spread hateful rhetoric is a different discussion than peaceful kneeling to protest police violence.

    (BTW: not really a critique of the post, but rather some additional thoughts on the subject).

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  3. James Pearce says:

    Do you want corporations obliterating speech the state can’t touch? Do you want the price of participation in public debate to include the fear of lost livelihoods? Then, by all means, support the N.F.L. Cheer Silicon Valley’s terminations. Join the boycotts and shame campaigns. Watch this country’s culture of liberty wither in front of your eyes.

    This all sounds terribly familiar to me….

    Without getting into who started it or who does it more, can we just stop?

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  4. Another thought: surely boycotts are different than corporate policy imposed on employees.

    (And I say that as one who thinks boycotts tend to be pointless).

    But isn’t a boycott the consumer determining with whom it will do business?

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  5. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    but protesting Milo’s attempt to spread hateful rhetoric is a different discussion than peaceful kneeling to protest police violence.

    It seems to me that a reason “both sides” have converged on this idea that unpopular speech is actually intolerable and must be shut down is this idea that things are so “different.” I mean, I obviously think racism is much worse than insufficient flag-waving, but that’s just my personal opinion. I know people who think insufficient flag-waving is worse than racism. So how do you reconcile those two views?

    It seems to me that one way we figured out how to resolve that was to say, look, your personal opinion doesn’t matter. You don’t have to like it or agree with it or even listen to it, but you have to tolerate unpopular speech. You have to.

    Too many people these days think that unpopular speech is literally intolerable and must be squashed. It’s not a good thing.

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  6. teve tory says:

    Worth keeping in mind that Americans support free speech more than any other people in the world.

    Pew Research poll.

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  7. @James Pearce: Yes, the Nazis and the Klan get to have marches and published newsletters. I accept that as the appropriate thing to do. And no, not everyone is going to agree on the contents of speech.

    However, I think that it is nonetheless important use my free speech to point out that, no, racism is not the same as insufficient flag-waving.

    I am not suggesting different legal standards, but I am suggesting that there is a profound power-difference between what the wacky college students have done versus the president and NFL owners.

    I don’t think that shrugging it off is a good position to take, but that is, in the spirit of the conversation, simply my opinion.

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  8. I am, in general, frustrated by the fact that a lot of pro-free speech sentiment on the right seems to be protection for those who want to be “politically incorrect” about women and minorities while, in this case at least, they are interested in squelching protests against real injustice.

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  9. Mikey says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I am, in general, frustrated by the fact that a lot of pro-free speech sentiment on the right seems to be protection for those who want to be “politically incorrect” about women and minorities while, in this case at least, they are interested in squelching protests against real injustice.

    Because–and this goes directly to your very good point about power relationships–the pro-free-speech sentiment on the right is aimed directly at maintaining the superior position of white people, and especially of white men, in American society. So, of course, they’re going to push for being “politically incorrect” (a stupid euphemism for being able to express racist and sexist views freely) while at the same time working to keep Americans of color, and especially black men, down.

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  10. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    I mean, I obviously think racism is much worse than insufficient flag-waving, but that’s just my personal opinion. I know people who think insufficient flag-waving is worse than racism. So how do you reconcile those two views?

    You recognize that insufficient flag-waving hurts nobody, while racism inflicts true harms on real people, and you speak to that truth.

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  11. Gustopher says:

    The fact that the President is trying to limit the speech of the players should probably concern those small-government conservatives. But, this is something we have heard from them before every time a Republican is president — any dissent is unpatriotic.

    Those who marched to protest the pending Iraq war in the George W. Bush presidency were “giving comfort to the enemy”, and not “supporting the troops”.

    I pity the NFL which has somehow got itself dragged into this political war, and which has no way out that doesn’t piss off 20% of their fans — I assume 60% just don’t care one way or the other.

    I think their current stance is shit — something like this might have been fine without government interference, but the owners and the players should be united against government interference.

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  12. Todd says:

    Reading this headline reminds me of one of those choose your own adventure books. “Conservatives are on the wrong side of ________” (fill in the blank).

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  13. JohnMcC says:

    I think it is terrific that you have realized that ‘conservativism’ has morphed into ‘what Trump says’.

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  14. MarkedMan says:

    Back in my programming days I learned that if I was having trouble making my code work with a certain construct it was likely that I had chosen the wrong construct. I think trying to figure out how “conservatives” justify this, or even saying “conservatives” are wrong about this, is just a category error. If instead of “conservatives” you substitute “people who get angry when dark skinned people get above their station”, it makes perfect sense and is logically consistent. If you use this construct it has real predictive value. Sure, these types of people have for the most part decided to call themselves conservatives, but people adapt labels for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with reality.

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  15. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I am suggesting that there is a profound power-difference between what the wacky college students have done versus the president and NFL owners.

    I share the concern about the profound power-difference, which is why I feel comfortable telling both the college students and the NFL owners, “Sorry, dudes, you don’t have to endorse it or like it, but you’ve got to at least tolerate it. You can’t shut it down.” There is no power-difference because everyone’s equally powerless.

    If we move to a world where you can shut it down, well, we know just who is going to do the shutting down, don’t we? Powerful folks like NFL owners or the mob, made “powerful” with their pitchforks.

    @Mikey:

    You recognize that insufficient flag-waving hurts nobody, while racism inflicts true harms on real people, and you speak to that truth.

    Well, I don’t feel comfortable saying “insufficient flag-waving hurts nobody.” I have to assume the butt-hurt is genuine, even if I personally think it’s ridiculous. (The backlash, at any rate, will be very real.)

    How about we stop trying to justify the squelching of “bad” speech and just accept it as the price to pay for living in a free society?

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  16. MBunge says:

    French is a sucker and that’s only confirmed by some of the replies on this thread. Freedom of speech, both legal and theoretical, has to apply to everyone or no one. But you don’t make that happen by wringing your hands and polishing your sense of self-righteousness. You do it by actually forcing people to live by their own rules and doing it good and hard.

    Rush Limbaugh was fired from ESPN for expressing an explicitly political opinion. How is that any different than this anthem situation? What if this were not about largely black players kneeling for the national anthem but largely white players wearing MAGA hats?

    If you go looking in the world of comics, there’s a recent case where it sure looks like a small publisher has been bullied and threatened into not publishing the work of a certain creator solely because people don’t like that creator’s politics. Not the politics of the work in question, mind you, but just the creator’s politics in general. Well, that and he’s also kind of an ass. It’s blacklisting, with the victim being a right winger and the perpetrators being left wingers.

    The problem facing us isn’t conservative hypocrisy on free speech. Conservatives have ALWAYS been shaky on free speech. The problem is that liberals, the traditional defenders of free speech, have been infested with people who only believe in freedom for the speech they like.

    Mike

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  17. MarkedMan says:

    @MBunge:

    Rush Limbaugh was fired from ESPN for…

    … being racist against blacks and hispanics while working for a company that needs access to the 60% or so of players in major sports that fall into those categories and who represent something like 15-20% of their viewing market. (Edited for accuracy)

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  18. NW Steve says:

    @MBunge: @MBunge:

    It’s blacklisting, with the victim being a right winger and the perpetrators being left wingers.

    You seem to be arguing that supporters of free speech are somehow obligated to buy the artistic emissions of people they find abhorrent (either the people or their oeuvre). That to not do so is somehow hypocritical.

    Is there some other way to interpret your comment? If I have it right, which lefty authors are you buying just to confirm your support of free speech?

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  19. An Interested Party says:

    Isn’t MBunge supposedly black? And yet he supports open racists like Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump…how pathetic…

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  20. Yank says:

    @Mikey: Bingo. A lot of pro free speech advocates have been arguing in bad faith when it comes to this issue. This has always been about protecting the free speech rights for mainly white men, who say terrible things on college campuses that make mediocre and insecure white men feel better about themselves. They could care less about the rights for minorities or anyone different.

    All of this was fairly obvious from the start and it is pathetic that it was college kids who realized this sham, but smart liberals, moderates, and the media allowed themselves to be scammed by bad faith actors on the right.

    We as a society have to do a better job of sniffing out BS and stop elevating those who are clearly not arguing in good faith. The free speech debate isn’t the only issue where this happens. You see it in every major issue in this country (healthcare, immigration etc.)

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  21. TM01 says:

    Does anyone care what David French says? Seriously?

    But anywho… One big problem with the NFL is the way they are selective in their stands on speech.

    Kneeling is perfectly ok. But you want to remember 9/11? Nope.
    You want to put stickers on your helmets honoring the cops assassinated in Dallas? Tough.

    People see that and get mad.

    Add if they weren’t losing viewers because of it you can be sure they wouldn’t have come up with this rule.

    Add if anyone wants to talk about corporate suppression of speech and viewpoints, let’s talk Facebook, shall we?

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  22. James Pearce says:

    @NW Steve:

    You seem to be arguing that supporters of free speech are somehow obligated to buy the artistic emissions of people they find abhorrent

    It may seem like that if you ignore this from his first paragraph:

    “Freedom of speech, both legal and theoretical, has to apply to everyone or no one.”

    The en vogue argument that “free speech doesn’t apply to [insert bad people here], because they are so very, very bad.” And hey, that seems to work….until the winds change and suddenly you’re the bad one.

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  23. James Pearce says:

    @Yank:

    This has always been about protecting the free speech rights for mainly white men, who say terrible things on college campuses that make mediocre and insecure white men feel better about themselves.

    I just love it when people think they can reduce an entire group of people to a couple of adjectives… Mediocre and insecure?

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  24. Kathy says:

    Dissent may or may not be patriotic. Tolerating dissent certainly is.

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  25. Yank says:

    @James Pearce: I am sorry, but the truth hurts.

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  26. James Pearce says:

    @Yank:

    I am sorry, but the truth hurts.

    It’s not the truth. It’s a stereotype.

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  27. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    I just love it when people think they can reduce an entire group of people to a couple of adjectives… Mediocre and insecure?

    Not all white men are mediocre and insecure, but to those who are, Trumpism and its associated pathologies have significant appeal.

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  28. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    How about we stop trying to justify the squelching of “bad” speech and just accept it as the price to pay for living in a free society?

    Because some of that “bad” speech leads to things like what happened in Charlottesville. In case you’ve forgotten, someone was murdered.

    Butt-hurt isn’t really hurt. Getting crushed to death by a speeding car is.

    And your framing isn’t really accurate. I’m not arguing for squelching bad speech, just for calling it out for what it is and shaming those who use it to perpetuate racism.

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  29. Tyrell says:

    Attendance and viewer numbers have been in decline for the last years. Owners and tv sponsors are getting nervous. There are various reasons that have been discussed. This all started before Trump came around. The kneeling has certainly not helped. The fans are fed up and are filing out. College ball is the thing now.
    These are talented, skilled athletes to be sure. They need to be more grateful for the opportunity they have been given.
    Look at the actions of player J.J. Watt in helping people. That is what people want to see more of.

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  30. @Tyrell:

    College ball is the thing now.

    Well, Media Circus: College Football Ratings Are on the Decline

    The decline of NFL viewership has rightfully been one of the biggest sports media stories of the past two years but less has been written about where college football stands in aggregate viewership. College football is a tougher game to analyze for ratings experts given a number of factors including the innate regionalism of the sport, and the massive number of national windows between ESPN’s multiple networks, Fox and FS1, CBS and CBSSN, NBC and NBCSN and others.

    One of the best analysts at making sense of sports television and digital ratings is Austin Karp, the assistant managing editor of Sports Business Daily. Last week Karp examined the 2017 regular season viewership for college football and found that CBS, ABC, NBC and ESPN all posted significant declines this season. Fox was the one outlier, with record-high viewership thanks to its new Big Ten deal. Karp said ratings were not available for conference channels like SEC Network, Big Ten Network and Pac-12 Network.

    That is from a December 2017 article.

    Indeed, I will believe that College Football has overtaken the NFL when the national championship game is treated like a national holiday and is not on basic cable.

    Football’s decline is likely more about concerns over concussions and the general fact that nothing could have remained quite as red hot as it had been. I honestly do not think most people really are making viewing choices over the kneeling issue.

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  31. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey:

    Not all white men are mediocre and insecure, but to those who are, Trumpism and its associated pathologies have significant appeal.

    While I think a lot of Trump supporters are, in fact, mediocre and insecure [cough-Kanye], I don’t think you can trace that so cleanly to race or gender.

    Butt-hurt isn’t really hurt.

    Yeah, I’m not so sure about that anymore. It’s easier to empower individuals these days, which means butt-hurt now has a little boost in status.

    I’m not arguing for squelching bad speech, just for calling it out for what it is and shaming those who use it to perpetuate racism.

    What if the “shaming” part of that is counter-productive?
    @Tyrell:

    They need to be more grateful for the opportunity they have been given.

    The athletes? No. They’re given opportunities, it’s true, but they also have to endure years of unpaid exploitation and basically the destruction of their bodies for them. The owners should be grateful, not only to the athletes who provide them their product but to the cities that host them.

    I will agree, though, that JJ Watt is a mensch.

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  32. Gustopher says:

    @MBunge:

    The problem facing us isn’t conservative hypocrisy on free speech. Conservatives have ALWAYS been shaky on free speech. The problem is that liberals, the traditional defenders of free speech, have been infested with people who only believe in freedom for the speech they like.

    You might be onto something here…

    I think that Nazis have the right to speak, but I have no desire to spend my time, energy or money defending their right to speak. It’s why I haven’t renewed my cat’s membership in the ACLU (every month they send her mail that they claim is my final membership reminder, and I think “if only”)

    After a decade of being told that I’m not a Real American by prominent members of the Republican establishment, I kind of don’t give a shit if they get driven out of college campuses and are forced into some backwater ghetto of inbreeding.

    It turns out that if you attack people for a decade, and proclaim them to be The Other, those “other” people aren’t going to defend you. Spite is the most powerful human emotion.

    If the right wing wants to start acting like adults again, I’d come around, but while they are a bunch of spoiled babies having a temper tantrum because god forbid they have to accept that other people exist… well, fvck them.

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  33. al Ameda says:

    @MBunge:

    The problem is that liberals, the traditional defenders of free speech, have been infested with people who only believe in freedom for the speech they like.

    Those players who kneeled? They quietly and peacefully called attention to their cause – and yet many White folks have a big problem with it. This issue breaks very strongly across racial lines. Why do you think that is? Is it because of widely different life experiences between White and Black people?

    Be that as it it may. Go to any professional ballgame, and often during the Anthem, you’ll notice, you’ll see people chatting to each other, looking about, not singing the Anthem, some don’t place their hand over their heart. Me? I quietly stand and face the flag – I’m sure some would say that I do not follow protocol. In fact, 3 years ago at a baseball game, and older gentleman (probably a veteran) standing next to me chastised me for not putting my hand over my heart. I

    Do you consider all of that that to be disrespectful behavior? I don’t. Also, I do not see why it’s necessary that every game – professional, college, high school – somehow has to be sanctified by the playing of the Anthem.

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  34. An Interested Party says:

    This issue breaks very strongly across racial lines.

    That point can’t be stressed enough

    Also, I do not see why it’s necessary that every game – professional, college, high school – somehow has to be sanctified by the playing of the Anthem.

    Patriotism sells

    2015: Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake released a report revealing that the Department of Defense had spent $6.8 million between 2012 and 2015 on what the senators called “paid patriotism” events before professional sports games, including American flag displays, honoring of military members, reenlistment ceremonies, etc. The DoD justified the money paid to 50 professional sports teams by calling it part of their recruiting strategy. However, many teams had these ceremonies without compensation from the military, and there was nothing found in the contracts that mandated that players stand during the anthem.

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  35. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Another thought: surely boycotts are different than corporate policy imposed on employees.

    Thanks, Steven — you beat me to it.

    Then again, a lot of conservatives can’t seem to tell the difference between a strike and a lockout, either, if the industry involved is a professional sport.

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  36. Yank says:

    While I think a lot of Trump supporters are, in fact, mediocre and insecure [cough-Kanye], I don’t think you can trace that so cleanly to race or gender.

    You can if you aren’t blind or obtuse.

    The group that has bought into Trumpism were mainly men who bought into the MRA movement, which is predominantly white men. Yes, there are guys like Kanye who support Trump, but for the most part the average Trump supporter is a white male.

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  37. Gustopher says:

    @Yank: White women too, just not as many. And while MRA types strongly supported Trump, that does not imply that most of the Trump supporters are MRA types.

    Trump gathered a coalition of angry white racists, MRA, incels, Nazis, Clinton-haters, culture warriors, frustrated working class people, and folks who had been voting Republican for years and just kept it up without thinking about it.

    Probably a 50-50 split of deplorable and non-deplorable.

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  38. teve tory says:

    I spent Christmas Day 1994 in the dorms at Lackland AFB outside of San Antonio. They didn’t make us do anything that day, and they put an NFL game on a 30” tv as a treat. If Colin Kaepernick had taken a knee at that game, and anybody complained, we probly would have shoved him out the door and made him polish his boots with the scorpions.

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  39. James Pearce says:

    @Yank:

    Yes, there are guys like Kanye who support Trump, but for the most part the average Trump supporter is a white male.

    This seems like a limited perspective to me, like the people who hear “black male suspect” on the news every other night and think all black males are criminals.

    Yes, there are a lot of white male Trump supporters. And there are a lot of white male Hillary supporters, too. It’s reasonable to assume that one or the other might have more support, but what does that say about white males?

    The correct answer is nothing. It says nothing about white males.

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  40. Mister Bluster says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:..Football’s decline is likely more about concerns over concussions and the general fact that nothing could have remained quite as red hot as it had been. I honestly do not think most people really are making viewing choices over the kneeling issue.

    Anecdote:
    Last fall one of the owners of a chain of 6 or 7 Buffalo Wild Wings franchises in Southern Illinois and Southeast Missouri told me how people are “boycotting the NFL because of all this kneeling by the players! Our business is down!”
    Of course as he was saying this I was sitting in a booth at his chicken shack chomping on some Traditional Wings and Asian Zing Wing Sauce.
    “Well I’m still here watching the Bears lose as painful as that is. I’ll do all I can to help you out boss.”
    I ordered 6 more wings.

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  41. Tyrell says:

    I went to an NFL some years ago with a free ticket given by a friend. After paying $10 I had to walk several blocks. A drink and hot dog cost $7. I left in the third quarter.
    A couple of years ago I went to a game at a small college up the road. Parked on the street for free. People could take in their own drinks and snacks. Admission was $5. People could sit in the bleachers or on a grassy area. After the game many players stayed around and talked to their families and people. Some had to get on back to hit the books. That was more real to me. A lesson there somewhere.

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  42. @Tyrell: I am curious: what level was the college game? D3?

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  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: You only paid $7 for a drink AND a hotdog? That must have been quite some time ago. A drink and a hotdog at a Seahawk’s game cost more than that when I still lived in Seattle, and I haven’t lived in Seattle for over 30 years!

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