We failed to educate the players of “flag” football
I passed all of the American history courses in Morrison County District 54, Little Falls High School, and Moorhead State Teachers College, but I’m often appalled about what I don’t know about the history of race relationships in this “shining city on a hill.” I had never heard of the 1873 Colfax, Louisiana Massacre of blacks that took place eight years after our American Civil War killed 750,000 until I read a September 4, 2018 Atlantic article “The Supreme Court Is Headed Back To The 19th Century.” A few paragraphs and chapters in history books about slavery and race relations in that war didn’t help.
The Reconstruction period after the Civil War was one of the most violent times in our history. Southern Democrats were continuing to disenfranchise and restrict the civil rights of former slaves. Klu Klux Klanners and White Leaguers killed over 100 blacks protecting the Colfax courthouse. Whites who had come to watch the killing plundered and mutilated the bodies—and left them to rot on the grounds. Finally days later, federal troops called in by President Ulysses S. Grant shoveled the bodies into a mass grave. Grant called it “a butchery that in bloodthirstiness and barbarity surpassed savage acts of warfare.”
I thought of Miranda’s response in Shakespeare’s The Tempest when she describes her fellow men: “How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world/ that has such people in it!” Her father Prospero knew better. He responded: “Tis new to thee.” I would change two words in her exclamation: “How savage mankind is! O depraved new world/ that has such people in it!”
My interest in race relations increased quickly in the 1950’s when after college I and Corky spent four years in the South while I was serving tours in the Marine Corps at Quantico, Virginia, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and Parris Island, South Carolina. About a third of my two commands, a machinegun platoon and a rifle company, were black, and my NCOs were decorated black veterans of the Korean War. I learned quickly how blacks lived under about 200 Jim Crow laws in the South.
This is why I’m buying a Colin Kaepernick football jersey from Nike
Kaepernick did not pick the anthem and the American flag to protest racial injustice. No sense protesting at the national domino championship. He picked pro football because the National Football League has one of the biggest TV audiences. He knew he would reach more people with his protest of systemic racial injustice in “the land of the free” and of police brutality against people of color. The history of racial intolerance from 1620 to 2018 is clear. It is a litany boiling over into hatred and murder. The partial list…segregation in public accommodations and schools…over 200 Jim Crow laws to suppress blacks in Southern states…over 4,000 lynchings of blacks over that period of time…the hooded-white-sheeted Klu Klan Klanners marching down the streets of Washington, D.C. and Fargo, North Dakota…white flight to the segregated suburbs…rioting cities where we have black ghettos…Chief Justice John Roberts decimating the Voting Rights Act by writing in his majority opinion that there was no racial discrimination left in the country…the gerrymandering of voting districts into white and black…forcing the poor to have expensive voter-IDs…the passage of thousands of local and state voting laws regarding districts, electronic equipment, number of precincts, early voting, and hours of voting…the list of unarmed black men and children killed by police grows almost every day: among hundreds these names stand out…Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Jamar Clark…none of the cops who killed these unarmed blacks have spent a day in prison..Need I go on?
When the shooting of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe attracted more attention in the United States than the killing of 12-year-old black Tamir Rice walking in a park by a Cleveland cop, black writer Roxanne Gay tweeted: “I’m personally going to start wearing a lion costume when I leave my house so if I get shot, people will care.” This is why Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the anthem. His protest had nothing to do with the flag.
How do all those billionaire white owners feel about their laborers?
The NFL owners have been increasing their percentage of black players to over 70% since the professional game was organized. A few white men can grow big and gain weight—but very few can jump high or run fast. The attitude of the white owners has not changed since the now dead Tex Schramm of the Dallas Cowboys told the now dead black Gene Upshaw, the Hall of Fame offensive guard and executive director of the NFL Players’ Association: “You guys are cattle and we’re the ranchers,,,and ranchers can always get more cattle.” Upshaw played in 217 games over 16 seasons for the Oakland Raiders, playing in three Super Bowls in three decades (1967, 1976, 1980). That old black bull lasted a long time. He was celebrated for a fine blocking game against Alan Page, another black Hall of Fame defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI.
I see a white-bull-cattle named Ron Yary, a Minnesota Hall of Fame offensive tackle, is very angry at black-pretty-good-quarterback Kaepernick for taking a knee to protest treatment of ordinary blacks in our society. Yary seems to forget that many black soldiers, sailors, and Marines lost their black asses in Vietnam defending his white ass while he cavorted on a football field. These blacks couldn’t get five deferments for bone spurs like Donald Trump or five deferments like Dick Cheney “because he had better things to do” than fight in Vietnam. They aren’t called chickenhawks for nothing. Why didn’t Yary go to Vietnam? It was a great place for a big tough offensive tackle to block and tackle the Cong. I must quote Yary’s comment about protests: “There’s only one place in America where you cannot take your grievances with you and put them on display, and that’s on your job site. You can do it in front of your government, you can do it in your church, you can do it in any other place. But, the one place in this country that is sacrocanct from presenting your personal dislikes and grievances is the job site.” My God, didn’t this Hall of Fame tackle ever go to elementary, middle school, high school, and college history classes? Did he ever study the Constitution and the history of the labor movement and the power of strikes and walkouts? If he didn’t, he’s the perfect Trump voter.
The Trump cult and the jeweler who takes a knee
Evidently taking a knee during the anthem to Trump’s cult is like reacting to a Pavlov’s dog response. The Garieri Jewelers, a small family business in a small New England town, has a reputation for using humor in its advertising on local billboards. On one billboard they had a young man with an engagement ring kneeling in front of a girl proposing to her. The billboard ad had this caption: “If you’re going to take a knee this season, please have a ring in your hand!” That’s rather cute, right? It’s a play on words, right? Not to the Trump cult. Scott Garieri and his daughter Alexandria who came up with the ad were deluged with death threats. So sad. So Trump-like. The Trump voter, lobotomized after listening to his endless rants about Mexican rapists, M-13 killers and Mexican gangs, calling Nazis “fine people,” his encouraging roughing up people in the audience, calling the press the “enemy of the people,” telling people in his rallies he would pay for their legal expenses if they attack protesters, and countless other very personal insults, salivate to his responses like the dogs of Pavlov in his experiments about unconditional behavior.
Why did Nike make Kaepernick part of Their 30th anniversary of “Just Do It?”
It’s simple. Nike wants to sell expensive sports shoes and clothing. But why pick a guy who has been blackballed by 32 NFL owners and a psychopathic president, who not only wants the son-of-bitch fired, he wants him deported to Africa? The big boys at Nike evidently felt that a lot of Americans, both white and black, sympathized with a courageous young man who makes this statement: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything. Just do it.” After all, Colin is an excellent quarterback in his prime who took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl--while making in the neighborhood of $8 million a year. He was willing to sacrifice everything to make things better for his race and country. He picked the anthem time to take a knee because it would put him on TV shows and on the front page of most newspapers to talk about Jim Crow. Oh, and about the police shooting and killing unarmed black men and boys. He wasn’t “disrespecting” the flag. He wanted his “flag” to just do something about race discrimination in America. He contributed $1 million of his own money to civil rights organizations. Nike has evidently guessed right about attitudes in America. After it added Kaepernick to its ad campaign, Nike sales went up 31%! Heck, I might even buy two Kaepernick jerseys.
Where did Kaepernick get the idea to “Take A Knee?”
NBA great Kareem Abdul Jabbar, who had joined Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and other great black athletes in civil rights protests years ago, blasted the NFL owners and politicians in a letter: “It’s been two years since Colin Kaepernick first took a knee to protest systemic racial injustice, especially police brutality, against people of color. The worst thing about that isn’t that two years later we are still debating whether players have the right to protest, it’s that not much has changed regarding what Kaepernick was protesting.”
Fox News has managed to find a few veterans who think Kaepernick hates and disrespects the flag. Actually Kaepernick got the idea of taking a knee from Iraq and Afghanistan Army Green Beret veteran Nate Boyer, who told him he should consider going to his knee to “respectfully” protest the police killings rather than just sitting on the bench. Boyer played football for the University of Texas and was later signed by the Seattle Seahawks. Boyer told him: “Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect. When we’re on patrol, you know, and we go into a security halt, we take a knee, and we pull security…People take a knee to pray. So for me it was a common ground, at least to start from.”
A veteran’s wife answered for most veterans in an Alternet article: “As a veteran’s wife, it’s galling to me that taking a knee continues to be miscast as “protesting the anthem” or “disrespecting the military” when Kaepernick and the other athletes who have followed suit have been clear that they are protesting the brutalization of black Americans. And the military, in defending and upholding the Constitution, protects the right to protest. When you refute Kaepernick’s protest, even in the name of “supporting the troops,” you are refuting everything my husband fought for, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the peaceful pursuit of justice.” Beautifully written!
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