Your Right to Protest Does Not Make Your Protest Right

Minnesota Vikings players lock arms during the national anthem before the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Sept. 24, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Brad Rempel / USA TODAY Sports

I found myself thinking of that old Stealer’s Wheel song about being stuck in the middle. The one with line about how there are “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.”

This controversy in the NFL – and now the MLB – over players kneeling or sitting out during the national anthem is frustrating for those of us who would much rather our nation’s attention be focused on much needed policy initiatives like healthcare and tax reforms.

The confederacy of dunces in the sports world are protesting something. It’s hard to tell what. Supposedly it’s “social justice” and “police brutality” (the latter, admittedly, a worthy topic) but the message coming from the athletes is muddled. This weekend the kneeling seemed more a temper tantrum aimed at President Donald Trump. A moment of #resistance perpetrated by people who think all you have to do to be right is disagree with Trump.

It’s hard to even focus on the merits of the argument the athletes are trying to make with their protests, to the extent one even exists, when you can’t see past the inflammatory and insulting form their protest has taken.

These celebrity 1 percenters can’t figure out that, whatever they may say they’re protesting, kneeling during the national anthem has all the appearances of protesting America itself. A country that, while deeply flawed in many ways, has still “provided more freedom, more dignity, and more material benefits to its citizens, and has given more of its blood and treasure for the sake of others, than any nation on Earth,” as Quin Hillyer wrote (the headline is also a line stolen from him).

It’s hard to even focus on the merits of the argument the athletes are trying to make with their protests, to the extent one even exists, when you can’t see past the inflammatory and insulting form their protest has taken.

Yet the vapidity of the #takeaknee argument, coupled with the stupidity of the tactics deployed, do not add up to a defense of President Trump’s antics.

The argument made by the kneelers may be as deep as a puddle, but it was still a debate. Trump took to Twitter and turned it into a sideshow. A sort of professional wrestling beef with heels from both sides jeering at one another in the ring.

Speaking strictly from a political perspective, Trump’s probably going to win this fight. This sort of issue is right up his alley. His political base is eating this up. Meanwhile, the NFL is seeing its brand tarnished with each new protest. That it took protesting the national anthem, and not the epidemic of violence and criminal behavior from its players, to accomplish that is a topic for another day.

Anyway, soon they’ll be calling for an end to playing the national anthem at sporting events entirely, and it might even happen.

What a tragic day that will be.

On a more positive note, maybe a silver lining in all of this will be Americans finally waking up to the scam that is taxpayer subsidies for sports stadiums where teams with millionaire players and billionaire owners play.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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