By: Ed Brodow
The president’s criticism of NFL athletes’ refusal to stand for the national anthem has come under attack on the grounds that (a) the players are calling out systemic racism, and (b) the president’s comments are racist. Conservative pundits are defending the president’s position with good arguments. Here are a few of them:
• If professional athletes want to complain about racial inequality, they should say so instead of attacking the country and its flag. If, as they say, they want to complain about how the police treat black suspects, protest THAT. Don’t presume to take down the whole country as the object of protest.
• Athletes do not have a constitutional right to express their political opinions on the field. The First Amendment imposes restrictions on the federal government but not on individual employers’ right to censor political expression by their employees while on the job. When you put on that uniform, you are representing the team, not your personal political viewpoint. If you have a gripe, get an interview on CNN. I’m sure they would love to have you.
• The NFL’s policies are not consistent. It has imposed many restrictions on athletes’ freedom of speech, not the least of which was denying the right to commemorate 9/11, but it selectively allows them to kneel during the national anthem. This is self-defeating, as it incurs the wrath of millions of fans. By insulting the president, Hollywood actors are doing the same thing and the movie industry is going to pay a heavy price as well.
These are good arguments, but the most compelling reasons for criticizing the protests are being overlooked. They are:
• Systemic racism does not exist in the United States. Individual instances of racism are occurring and will always occur—against both blacks and whites—but to suggest that racism is institutionalized is to deny the colossal changes that have occurred since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. It was a big deal when Jackie Robinson broke the color line in baseball. Today, however, 70% of NFL players are black. We elected a black president TWICE. African-Americans are accorded special privileges—what I have referred to as “black privilege”—in every nook and cranny of our country. When an African-American athlete earning $10 million a year attacks the system that is responsible for his incredible success, he is both ungrateful and hypocritical.
• The Leftist canard that racist police and the justice system deliberately discriminate against African-Americans is a lie. In 2017, it is ridiculous to suggest that white police are gunning for blacks. “The fault lies primarily with the black criminals,” says political commentator Dennis Prager, “not with a racist society.” The bulk of responsibility, agreed former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, is on African-Americans who “commit murder eight times more per capita than any other group in our society.” Ignoring the obvious connection between black criminality and black incarceration, the Left continues to point a finger at the police. “Numerical disparities result from differences of offending,” said black talk show host Larry Elder, “not because of racism.”
• The president’s criticism of NFL athletes has nothing to do with race. Introducing the race card is purely a contribution of the Left as part of its assault on American values and institutions. The mainstream media are attempting—unfairly—to portray Trump as racist, sexist, misogynistic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, etc. The chief strategy of the Democratic Party, says Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, “is to use character assassination, otherwise referred to as ‘the politics of personal destruction,’ as the weapon of choice.” The same lie was offered up by the Democrats to explain away the failure of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. It comes as no surprise that Mrs. Clinton has accused Trump of attacking black athletes. The weakness of the race card is that it is a feeble attempt to cover up the absence of any real arguments by the Left.
To the president’s credit, he takes the offensive by calling out the media for what they are: fake. I like to contrast Trump with George W. Bush, whose silence allowed the media to portray him as intellectually deficient. Trump has a substantial portion of the country behind him because people are figuring out that they can’t trust what they hear on CNN or read in the New York Times. They also understand that NFL athletes are showing contempt for the nation that enabled their success. The average American has difficulty swallowing the argument that millionaire athletes are being oppressed. Woe to the NFL as its ratings drop and fans find other pastimes to worship. Tennis anyone?
Ed Brodow is a political commentator, negotiation expert, and author of Tyranny of the Minority: How the Left is Destroying America.
Copyright © 2017 Ed Brodow. All rights reserved.
Here is the inestimable Doug Giles with his take on the anthem protest: