If there is one inescapable reality in the United States, it is that racism is so entrenched in American culture that most people are oblivious to its magnitude.
Recently, however, several players in the National Football League (NFL), a league largely controlled by billionaires who support one of America’s most despicable racists, Donald Trump, began to follow the example of “whiteballed” former quarterback Colin Kaepernick and protest racial injustice and police brutality by sitting or kneeling during the ritualistic playing of the national anthem.
This protest had been conducted by African-American players, prompting current player Michael Bennett and former player and current NFL commentator Shannon Sharpe to argue that, for it to be effective, white players needed to join in.
One team, the Cleveland Browns, responded when at least a dozen players, including one white player, knelt in prayer during the playing of the anthem.
The Cleveland Browns team is in Ohio, a state that saw several high-profile killings of African-Americans at the hands of police, including Tamir Rice, a twelve-year-old boy who had been playing with a toy gun; John Crawford III, who was holding a toy BB gun he had picked up in a department store; Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell, who, despite the fact they were unarmed, were shot at 137 times; and Samuel Dubose, who was also unarmed.
What happened after these incidents? No charges were brought against the cops who shot Rice and Crawford; a judge acquitted the cop charged in the Williams and Russell case; and two separate juries failed to reach verdicts in the Dubose case, essentially making the cop who killed him a free man.
Yet, as if to underscore the depth of racial injustice in Ohio, one of its Supreme Court “justices” (a hypocritical title if ever there was one) recently took to Facebook, not to condemn these shootings, but to whine about the Browns’ protest.
Yes, the same individual who swore to uphold the United States Constitution, which includes the right to “freedom of speech,” displayed nothing but contempt for the exercise of this right. And, as if to further emphasize his idiocy, he called the Browns players who protested “draft dodging millionaire athletes,” even though the draft ended in 1973, long before any of these players were born, and despite the fact that the current demigod of racists, Donald Trump, is a draft-dodger himself.
Fortunately, such ignorance did little to deter the protests that Kaepernick had started, as thousands of his supporters recently rallied in New York City to condemn the failure of any NFL team to hire him, when lesser qualified quarterbacks have had no difficulty obtaining jobs.
It would seem that even NFL fans who oppose Kaepernick would still be incensed at this development. After all, what NFL owners are basically saying is, “We know we can put an inferior product on the playing field and you will still obsequiously buy tickets or watch the games on television.”
Conservative media sites gleefully argue that the NFL can’t be racist because 70% of the players are African-American. But this is just like saying that slavery wasn’t racist because 100% of the slaves were African-American.
The reality is all the NFL owners (except for Shahid Khan, who, nevertheless, gave a million dollars to support Trump) are white. And, even though NFL players, unlike slaves, are paid for their work, the plantation mentality still persists, as these owners sit in luxury boxes and profit handsomely while the players on the field turn their brains into mush and their bones into splinters for the amusement of overwhelmingly white audiences.
Recently, much has been made of the fact that Khan stated he would have no problem hiring Kaepernick. But anyone familiar with the machinations of the NFL can see the duplicity in this announcement. After all, if one team owner expresses “interest” in Kaepernick, then it will be much harder to argue, should a grievance or lawsuit be filed, that NFL owners colluded to “whiteball” him.
Still, what these owners really needed to eradicate the protests Kaepernick inspired was an African-American.
Enter Jim Brown, a former player for the Cleveland Browns.
To the delight of racists everywhere, Brown recently condemned the anthem protests as disrespectful to the flag, and, according to reports, was even brought in to address the Browns team prior to its third preseason game. Although several players, according to a report in USA Today, claim that Brown “did not tell them what to do,” not a single Browns player knelt in protest.
Not surprisingly, Jim Brown, like Kaepernick critics Michael Vick and Ray Lewis, has a history of run-ins with the law, including allegations of domestic violence—an issue that, unlike the anthem protests, the NFL and far too many of its fans have traditionally not viewed as a “distraction.”
The irony is that whenever a professional athlete is arrested and/or convicted of a crime, forgiveness seems to be easy for the owners and fans. After all, criminal law and procedure allows for a finality where people can say, “He/she has paid the price. Now let’s move on.” Yet, since Kaepernick committed no crime and violated no NFL rules, there can be no finality, meaning his banishment can continue in perpetuity.
Let’s examine the flag that Brown doesn’t want “desecrated.” This was the flag that flew when African-Americans were enslaved; this was the flag that flew when the United States Supreme Court determined, prior to the Civil War, that African-Americans had no rights that white people had to respect; this was the flag that flew when this same court proclaimed, after the Civil War, that the racist doctrine of “separate but equal” (which, in reality, meant separate and unequal) did not violate the United States Constitution; this was the flag that flew when the Congress of the United States repeatedly failed to pass laws against lynching; and this is the flag that still allows America’s legal system to murder African-Americans with immunity and impunity.
In addition, the anthem Brown so sycophantically defends was not only written by a proponent of slavery, it actually mentions slavery in its lyrics. While historians disagree on whether the anthem condemns American slaves who fought on the side of the British during the War of 1812 in exchange for their freedom, the fact that it speaks of the “land of the free” while acknowledging slavery exists in this land is nothing short of hypocritical.
And what about this freedom the anthem allegedly celebrates—the freedom that critics of the anthem protests allege members of the military have fought and died for? Can it not be argued that if NFL players, fans, or any Americans are compelled, through social pressure, threats, intimidation, or fear of economic retaliation, to stand during the national anthem then they are not free? After all, how is a person free if he/she is denied the freedom of choice and therefore conformity is the only option?
Regular readers of Pravda.Report are undoubtedly aware that my last two articles were about the racism, mendacity, and hypocrisy inherent in the NFL, and, as my colleague Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey so astutely pointed out, one of the problems with sports in general is “it clouds people’s opinions about serious things.”
Still, this is what made the NFL protests started by Kaepernick so important. Today’s world, especially in industrialized countries like America, are replete with distractions, from sporting events, to video games, to smartphones, to a plethora of movies and television channels. “Serious things,” as Mr. Hinchey puts it, can be easily ignored unless they are thrust into one of these distractions.
The NFL protests did that, and with them came a glimmer of hope that maybe America would finally recognize the vileness of an organization that, as numerous Kaepernick supporters have pointed out, is “more comfortable with concussions than conscience.”
But now it appears this glimmer is moribund, if not already extinguished. But that’s not surprising. Just as Jesus had His Judas, W.E.B. DuBois and Monroe Trotter had their Booker T. Washington; Fred Hampton had his William O’Neal; Thurgood Marshall has his Clarence Thomas; Shannon Sharpe has his Jason Whitlock; and Colin Kaepernick has his Jim Brown.
Yet, in many ways, these modern day Judases (with the exception of O’Neal, who was so consumed by guilt over his role in Hampton’s extrajudicial execution that he ended his own life) are more despicable than the Biblical Judas, who at least displayed some remorse. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
When this evil is overtly endorsed by the moneyed interests, it is difficult to defeat. When it is supported by modern-day Judases, it is impossible.
David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Report