KEVIN LEVY, PUSHING FORWARD
Betsy Ross is often credited with stitching the first American flag that flew in the American Revolutionary War. Throughout the centuries, that great flag and its many variants would be flown on Government buildings, military bases, personal homes, and car dealerships around the world.
Recently, the subject of flag protests has become reinvigorated after President Donald Trump overlooked ongoing humanitarian issues around the country and instead tweeted out that basketball player Stephen Curry was no longer welcome to the White House to celebrate the recent Golden State Warriors championship win.
After President Trump attacked Curry, a slew of athletes came out to voice their support for the basketballer, most notably LeBron James who called Donald Trump a “bum” and said that “Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”
LeBron James is right. Donald Trump is a bum. He’s a bum for attacking an athlete who is (rightly) worried that attending a White House celebration with Donald Trump might damage Curry’s brand. He’s a bum because he noticeably forgot to attack Tom Brady, a white athlete, when he refused to attend a similar White House celebration.
And finally, Donald Trump is a bum because he finds protesting perverse racism more upsetting than protesting multiculturalism and advocating for white supremacy. When the tragic events unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia over a month ago, President Trump lamented that there were “very fine people on both sides, on both sides” of the carnage and violence that left one protester dead at the hands of a white supremacist. Black athletes are “sons of bitches,” but white supremacists are accompanied by “very fine people.”
Yesterday, I attended an event in New Jersey where a white radio announcer addressed a nearly all-white crowd following the playing of the national anthem. He boldly announced that “freedom is not free, and that the Constitution allows any American to take a knee for the playing of the national anthem, but it also allows me throw you out of here.” He said that he “stood with President Trump” against those overpaid athletes in the NFL who continue to take a knee in “great disrespect” to the American flag.
I felt uncomfortable. This self-congratulatory statement was incredibly tone deaf. It was also ignorant. The announcer doesn’t understand the nature of the NFL protest. One man present at the event wore a t-shirt emblazoned with a picture of the Confederate battle flag with the message “If this flag offends you, then you can get the f*** out of my country.”
Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the national anthem to protest the ever-prevalent extrajudicial killings of black Americans. The NFL protests (that have begun spreading to other sports) are not about antipathy to President Trump. They began to serve as a red flag to ongoing racial tensions around the nation. Those tensions are continuing to spread in the United States at an unacceptable level in 2017.
I stand with #TakeTheKnee in the NFL because the full gamut of white supremacists and neo-Nazis have been able to take to the field for too long and because the Trump Administration has shown that it has no interest in policing the police. Donald Trump has fanned the flames of yet another culture war. And I sincerely hope that the better among us triumph.