Take a Knee

This isn’t supposed to be a political blog. My intent has always been just to tell jokes and talk about spaceships and shit. I lasted thirty years without having the slightest interest in politics, and I could have easily gone an additional thirty comfortable in my own ignorant apathy. Hell, growing up I never had any idea who my parents voted for in national elections. I don’t think they even discussed it with each other, because honestly, it didn’t really fucking matter. When the choice traditionally fell between one interchangeable blandly incompetent democratic politician, or another assembly line produced inoffensively evil republican politician, there was really nothing worth talking about. I certainly never would have felt compelled to talk about it. Besides, who was I to share my opinion even if I had one? I”m just some regular jagoff, a dumb stupid idiot, who is not even cool.

Unfortunately, thanks to our wildly incompetent, divisive, offensive and childish POTUS, having strong feelings one way or another regarding the current political landscape is, like getting crabs at UCONN, 100% unavoidable. So what is there to be angry about? Take your pick. Environmental protection rollbacks? Affordable healthcare? Education costs? Women’s rights? Current and potential foreign wars? Civil unrest? Tax breaks for the super rich? All very important topics that we should be concerned about, for sure.

Let’s talk about athletes kneeling during the national anthem instead. THAT’S the one. THAT’S the topic worth fighting about.

Here’s what is going on, for those of you who are lucky enough to be living in an isolated cave or impenetrable jungle, and haven’t had access to outside news for some time. Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat down during a televised performance of the National Anthem preceding an NFL football game, in order to protest and draw attention to the issue of police brutality and the unfair treatment of People of Color, which is endemic in our society. After receiving an enormous backlash for his actions, and discussing the issue with a friend who was a military service member, Mr. Kaepernick adjusted his protest to kneeling, which is an otherwise universally accepted position of respect that hurts nobody, but still quietly and unobtrusively gets his point across. Inspired by his actions, other teammates, players for rival teams, and indeed even athletes competing in different sports began to take a knee as well.

Predictably, people lost their fucking minds. Their arguments were many and varied, but generally followed the same basic themes.

Argument 1: Who do these athletes think they are? They’re rich, their lives aren’t so bad. They have nothing to protest about.

To which I say, I did not realize that you had to be personally victimized by injustice to fight against that injustice. I guess we should go remind the people who protest against animal abuse that they aren’t allowed to, because they themselves are not animals. Or maybe we should make a time machine and travel back in time to remind everybody who fought against the Nazi’s treatment of the Jews that they shouldn’t bother if they’re not Jewish themselves. Evidently, you simply cannot stand up for what is right and just, if you’re not a direct victim of injustice. You’re not qualified to have an opinion on the matter. It’s somebody else’s problem and you should just keep your stupid mouth shut. It’s the same logic, right?

Argument 2: They are paid employees of their respective teams. We don’t pay them to have opinions, we pay those boys to battle for our entertainment. Dance monkey, dance. They can feel feelings in their free time. At home. Alone. Where we don’t have to see it, and it will achieve nothing.

Okay, but here’s a thought. The NFL supports the American Cancer Society by wearing pink apparel during games and raising money for the fight against breast cancer. We don’t pay those darn athletes to fight breast cancer. They probably don’t even HAVE breast cancer, so its like, why do they even care? I hate pink. I think it’s an ugly color and I don’t want to see it. I also hate cancer, and I don’t want to be reminded about it. So why aren’t people angry about #NFLPink like they are about kneeling for the national anthem? Is it conceivable that they’re angry, not, like they’re saying, because they don’t think athletes should show support for an important cause, but actually because they just don’t respect the cause those athletes have chosen? Weird.

Argument 3: Our armed forces members are heroes!

That is…potentially true. Doesn’t have anything to do with the flag though. Yes, I get that the flag and the national anthem are deeply tied to our military and our military service members, but they are not one and the same. So protesting one is not necessarily protesting the other. Gandhi often went on hunger strikes. That doesn’t mean he hated food, or chefs. It means he used his hunger strikes as a vehicle for change on a completely separate issue. Athletes are kneeling during the national anthem. This doesn’t mean they hate the national anthem, or the military. It means that they feel so strongly about an important issue that they are willing to endure anger and ridicule and scorn by carrying out an activity that, although it literally couldn’t be more peaceful, or quiet, or unobtrusive, was always going to be unpopular. So maybe we should be asking what problem is so bad that they feel strongly enough about it that they are willing to do something so unpopular to draw attention to it, instead of just being angry at them for doing the unpopular activity. It’s worth thinking about.

Argument 4: These assholes are disrespecting the flag!

I’m going to tell you a little secret. The flag doesn’t care. It’s an inanimate piece of cloth material literally incapable of feeling anything or recognizing disrespect.

…Well, it’s a symbol of the United States, therefore they’re disrespecting the United States!

Okay. But maybe, just maybe the USA deserves a little disrespect right now. You know what they’re really protesting right? You GET it, don’t you? By kneeling, these athletes are saying, hey, this flag is supposed to symbolize a cultural ideal, that of liberty and justice for ALL. And, right now, it’s not keeping that promise. Our country is not keeping that promise. We DON’T have liberty and justice for all, and we want it.

Real talk, that sounds like a great, admirable, righteous thing to protest for to me.

And, if you don’t think they have a legitimate complaint, you’re actually proving that they have a legitimate complaint. Look at it this way. They’re complaining that young, innocent, unarmed black and brown human beings are being mistreated, beaten, and murdered to death with impunity, and you are WAY more offended about the fact that they are complaining, than that young, innocent, unarmed black and brown human beings are being mistreated, beaten, and murdered to death with impunity.

Logic would dictate that you be more concerned with the suffering of actual, real life, living, breathing, human beings, than with a perceived slight against an inanimate object. So, why aren’t you?

US flag

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About Max T Kramer

Max has been better than you at writing since the third grade. He currently lives in Connecticut, but will someday return to the desert.
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