Rosa Parks was a hero. On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to give up her seat in the “colored section” to a white passenger. The resulting Montgomery bus boycott changed things and made this country a better place. That was a productive protest.
Last Sunday, a very different protest took place when more than 100 NFL players knelt during the singing of America's national anthem. I see nothing productive about it. It was 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick who started the trend last year to protest police brutality.
The Heart of the Protest
The kneeling turned into a much larger protest directed at President Trump who said at a political rally in Alabama: “Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now.' "
If I were president—don’t worry, I have too much laundry to find time to campaign—I would have acknowledged that racial harassment is never okay, but let’s unite against it instead of disrespecting our flag.
Some people and groups hold that there is widespread police violence in the U.S. against black and brown people. A study by Harvard African-American Professor Roland Fryer looked at four urban areas in the US, which resulted in what he called, “the surprise” of his career. Despite his expectations, Fryer found that American police officers showed no racial bias when it came to deadly force. However, he did find that police are more likely to be physically rough with black and brown Americans. So, there is a problem that should be addressed. Yet, instead of looking for solutions, protesting by disrespecting our country is foolish for a number of reasons.
- You don’t get respect by showing disrespect.
- Disrespecting our country inflames racial tensions rather than moving towards harmony.
- Studies show there is racial stereotyping (even among minorities) beyond the criminal justice system. The protest does not address the real problem.
- There is peer pressure being put on NFL players to take sides during an activity that should unite them and their fans.
- Sports stars have a great life so why show contempt towards a country that makes it possible?
- This protest actually separated like-minded people. That is a fail!
- Not one single person, behavior or law is changed by football players refusing to stand for the anthem.
- It corrupts the usually fun and patriotic atmosphere before a football game.
- It’s a slap in the face to people who risked their lives for our country or lost loved ones doing so.
- There is no measurable successful outcome.
On Sunday, my friend, Theresa Thomas shared her strong opinion about the protest on her Facebook page.
When Obama was president, I hated every second…. But that had nothing to do with my love for America and gratitude for living in this great nation. I stood and sang at every sports game I attended. Not for the then president but for MY COUNTRY.
They dishonor the real MEN who fought for our country and DIED so these boys could act like the babies they are.
…. I have listened to story after story of my late father-in-law, a WWII vet, talk about friends of his, only 19 or 20, who had hoped and dreams for families, careers, travel, love and life, who were shot down by Nazis, or otherwise killed in the line of duty so YOU AND I could enjoy the freedoms we do.”
I hope we can move past this to higher ground as in standing when our national anthem is played.
The next day for Monday night football, Dallas and Arizona stood during the anthem and locked arms to show unity. I loved that. They made a powerful message without disrespecting anyone.