NFL Players Should Think Hard Before They Take A Knee
With the George Floyd protests and riots, feelings and emotions have inevitably diverged with statistical fact more than ever. The narrative is rammed down our throats at a rapid rate, while the statistical data is inevitably more complex and requires part of an afternoon to digest. In the age of high-octane social media, part of an afternoon is no longer on the table.
So as this battle over Floyd is fought — although in reality, it’s a unanimous agreement, not a battle at all — the sub-battles of the culture war ensue. One of these battles is our great national anthem.
The anthem has been a topic of contention since Colin Kaepernick took a knee. Fortunately, nothing too crazy followed. Some players took knees, many did not, and most of America moved on with life.
But now, as passions are hot, the left has decided to get some “woke contracts” signed ASAP. One of them directly asks players to declare if they too will kneel for the national anthem.
Drew Brees recently gave one of the most eloquent answers on this topic, declaring what our anthem means to him and honoring his family. His explanation was nonpartisan and from his heart, and it was going to help pave the way for his team and many others to follow suit with pride. Less than 24 hours later, the thought police attacked him, and he released an immediate apology. His “taking a knee contract” has now been signed, and you had better believe he will be kneeling from here on out.
Conservatives such as myself who reside in liberal cities understand the pressure leftist peers and colleagues apply so we will agree with them, like a leftist pick axe slowly chipping away at a rock of integrity. One exhausting battle after another, it can be so tempting to grant a couple wins to keep good relations. Often we are tempted to concede to preserve our own livelihoods.
You see conservatives like George W. Bush falling into the trap and contributing to the rhetorical nonsense of our “nation’s disturbing bigotry and exploitation.” This short-sighted strategy to gain unity and ease tension is really a long-term infliction of damage that only reinforces the false media narrative, which seems to have no end.
The last two weeks have exhausted us emotionally. It’s easy just to capitulate and say the words that make the leftists happy. Is the anthem the hill we really want to die on? Yes, it is.
Not only does kneeling for the anthem have its own symbolic importance for the heroes and defenders of our great nation, but another issue is at stake here: The kneeling is for police brutality-related deaths in the black community, which in 2019 resulted in exactly nine deaths of unarmed black men within a black population of 30 million.
No matter how you feel about that number, do you ever really think it will get lower or go away, given there are 375,000 interactions with police every year? Do you think with human error and the occasional outlying bad actor that number could ever possibly drop to zero?
Here’s a message to NFL players facing this decision: If you fear the media blowback for not declaring now that you’ll take a knee, just think how much press you will get hammered with if you declare you will take the knee and decide later you want your national anthem back. You will have signed a deal with the devil, and you will be on that knee the rest of your career. Think very hard about this decision.
Emotions are high, and kneeling now is very tempting. We all just want to be good people, and we are being told this is the way. Just know this: Once you kneel, you will never get up again. Do not give up on our national anthem.
Chris Morton works in tech and resides in Santa Monica, California. Follow him on Twitter @cmorton_works.