In a somewhat surprising admission, House Speaker Paul Ryan conceded that the protests gripping the sports world in general and the NFL in particular were, and I quote, "misguided". He said that kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem was, in effect, showing a fundamental lack of respect for the ideals of America. Let me respectfully disagree.
No, Mr. Ryan, these protests HONOR the ideals of America. You see, these players aren't protesting the fairy tale, nostalgic America of YOUR dreams Mr. Ryan, they're protesting the REALITY of America. It is a sad fact but true, had we been living up to our ideals, there would have been no reason for protests of any kind in the first place.
You can go all the way back to the very beginning of our history Mr. Ryan, and the reality of American life then made a mockery of the ideals we purported to hold dear. The very Declaration of Independence is a lesson in hypocrisy. It professed a belief that ALL men were created equal. That simply wasn't true then any more than it's true today. At the time he was proclaiming that all men were created equal, Thomas Jefferson, the author of the piece, OWNED human beings as his very own personal property. He espoused personal freedom while denying the same to people of color simply on the basis of the pigmentation of their skin. It took a long and bloody war and the loss of over 600,000 lives to end slavery in the United States of America.
Even the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution couldn't end the blatant discrimination and denial of basic human rights that was Jim Crow law all throughout America. Decades of quiet lobbying and peaceful attempts to redress genuine grievances of African American citizens were systematically ignored and blithely dismissed by the powers that be who thought such efforts were "misguided".
Even now, the White House is controlled by a man who is trying to dismantle those parts of our government that attempt to uphold civil rights in this country. The various departments of government have been told NOT to rigorously enforce those rules and regulations that outlaw discrimination by the President of the United States with the connivance of the party YOU represent in Congress Mr. Speaker. Well known and virulent racists have been appointed to sensitive government positions without a word of protest coming from either the Speaker of the House or any other Congressional leader within the Republican caucuses.
Yes, I will concede that there is an air of the absurd that these profound issues are being raised by young men who play child's games for a living and who are paid obscene amounts of money for doing so. No, professional athletes should NOT be at the forefront of serious social protest. But they are there for two essential reasons. First, no matter how much a young African American athlete earns or how much "respect" he or she is supposed to have, young African American citizens are subject to the same kind of mistreatment as so-called "ordinary" black folks! They have every bit as much right to protest the reality of America as anyone else. They are not immune from abuse and harassment. More to the point Mr. Speaker, at least when African American athletes publicly protest, people such as yourself actually pay ATTENTION to them. A community organizer or a clergyman can march, and picket and protest til the cows come home and THEY are roundly ignored. At least now SOMEBODY is listening!
It is a sad fact but true, we Americans have to own up to the reality of our country. Racism survives and, at least in some quarters, is thriving. Racial hatred still runs rampant, witness Charlottesville. We cannot fool ourselves into thinking that these problems are going to go away simply by ignoring them. Does this make us uncomfortable? Absolutely! Nobody likes to have their faults and weaknesses pointed out to them. It is difficult for us Americans to admit that we are not quite the noble and upstanding citizens we imagine ourselves to be. Yes, Mr. Speaker, we SHOULD feel uncomfortable because if we DO then perhaps one day we'll actually CHANGE, hopefully for the better!!
Filed under: Politics