23 May 2018

Only a quarterback can take a knee

The National Football League announced a new rule today to resolve the controversy over players staging silent protests during the playing of the National Anthem. In doing so, league executives have fallen between two stools while trying to address both those fans offended by perceived insults to the flag and the soldiers for which it stands and the players' right of conscience. It has not been made compulsory for players to salute the flag, but those who don't wish to do so must remain off the field or out of public view while the anthem plays. To show perceived disrespect to the flag and to the troops for which it stands by kneeling or any other deviation from accepted anthem etiquette is now to court punishment for yourself or your team. Self-styled superpatriots of the Trumpian persuasion are no doubt happy with this new rule, while many to their left see it as a curtailment of civil liberties. Conservative apologists for the NFL predictably have taken the line that civil liberties don't exist in the workplace, while the other side as inevitably sees a football game as a public event where the principles of civil society should apply. Ultimately the NFL is a business and will do what's best for business, however the owners and administrators feel about the flag and the military for which it stands. People of real integrity will do what they have to do as well, as a matter of conscience and ideally regardless of material risk. We've had a controversy not only because many Americans are intolerant of dissent they equate with sacrilege, but because many other Americans believe dissent should be risk-free all the time. The consequence of such expectations is the nation we have now, where people feel entitled to dissent to anything in spite of everyone, whether their dissent is principled, reasonable, pathological or simply stupid. Our mass political culture is frivolously toxic to an extent that makes kneeling during the National Anthem supremely dignified by comparison. Now, however, we should learn who's done it frivolously and who's still willing to take a stand when it means taking a risk as well. Game on.

1 comment:

hobbyfan said...

I'd think civil liberties do exist in the workplace. Compromised, perhaps, but respected? It depends on what workplace you're talking about.

The way the media spins it, the NFL is catering to the President's manchild whims and tantrums, and shouldn't be doing so just to appease him. All that does is give him more fuel for his ego. They should've met with the players well before this point.