A soliloquy by Abraxas
I tell you my little cretins, the silly season is upon us. I pondered long and hard on the state of things in America today and my learned conclusions are not encouraging. Stupidity reigns supreme; we have reached the highest and last stage of unadulterated idiocy. And just when I, Abraxas the All-Wise, thought that I could not be surprised or, as they say, miffed, at the asinine shenanigans of the great fools masquerading as policymakers, I was taken aback at the breathtaking lunacy of the National Football league (NFL).
So, I pondered: NFL leaders can turn a blind eye on wife-beating, also called domestic violence, and many other issues, and now take a stinky dump on the United States Constitution’s First Amendment. Yep. Just like our president who creates his own version of reality, the NFL has cowardly capitulated to his man-boy whims. I fail to see the logic of this. That’s because these bozos NEVER, EVER LEARN. Sure, the NFL will get a short-term win and the political establishment bragging rights. But in the end, say I Abraxas, the All-Knowing, this too SHALL FAIL.
History tells us that Black athletes have engaged in unpopular protests before. After United States sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in a black-power salute during the United States national anthem after winning medals at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, they were thrown out of the Olympic Village, and suspended from the U.S. national team.
A year before that, in 1967, when Muhammad Ali refused to fight in the Vietnam War because of his religious convictions and his questioning of United States racial hypocrisy, he was also banned from boxing for three years. Yet when he died the man was on the right side of history. In the light of the NFL’s decision we can now look back at those seminal moments as signifiers of the times. I, like many of you, regard those athletes as heroes and see those who didn’t support them as obstacles and stumbling blocks toward racial equality.
I, Abraxas, declare that the NFL owners stupidly picked a political side. In their idiocy, they also picked the wrong side of history. A new policy, which overwhelmingly targets Black athletes, requires players either to remain in the locker room or stand and “show respect” during the playing/singing of the U.S. national anthem.
Teams with players who do not comply can face a fine and have discretion on how to discipline those players. You stupid ninny! About 70 percent of NFL players are black. Obviously, those who genuflected to President Trump on this issue received big plaudits. And not to be outdone by the NFL’s doing a Benedict Arnold, the president took to Fox News – where else?- in the wake of the new policy, saying that who use their platform to spark awareness about racial injustice by kneeling: “Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”
Yikes! Them’s fighting words. There followed the usual Tweets about “winning.” Okay. So who the heck is losing? The policy and the Trump administration’s triumphalist chest-thumping distracts — perhaps purposefully — from the very reason players such as Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the anthem: to call attention to the many black men brutalized and killed by police violence.
In a grim irony the same day that the NFL chose to publicly release this policy was on the same day Milwaukee police released sickening video footage of Bucks player Sterling Brown, a black man who remained calm while being intimidated and ultimately stunned with a Taser gun by police officers over what should have been a simple parking ticket.
Yeah, the Silly Season is on. Americans just don’t want to get it. Forcing black athletes’ protests behind closed doors isn’t neutralizing or bidding the issue farewell. Threatening punishment is a flawed method of silencing. It’s choosing a side – the wrong side – that will be historically chronicled as anti-justice and anti-black.
A December Washington Post-Kaiser poll conducted last winter showed that 53 percent of Americans (and 58 percent of whites polled) said it is “never appropriate” to kneel during the anthem. Verily I say to you: Remember that I, Abraxas, the All-Wise and All-Knowing, call attention to the fact that two-thirds of Americans disapproved of Dr. martin Luther King, Jr and his actions, and the man himself, in a 1966 Gallup poll.
Yet, to suggest today, especially during this Season Of Silly, that the NFL is an American game/pastime free of political, racial and cultural influence is patently ignorant. Should Muhammad Ali have just shut up and boxed? Or Carlos and Smith just remained silent and run? They did voice their opinions before that medal stand, but what do people remember even today? That image of black clinched fists in the air.
So I, Abraxas, now hereby pass my verdict on this issue: The NFL has a checkered history of getting things wrong – many things. But in the recent history of this now beleaguered league, it has gotten fewer things more horribly, disgracefully, stupidly, terribly wrong than what it decided to do in trying to half-heartedly stop mostly black players from protesting during the national anthem.
In essence, the NFL is trying desperately to shove these protests out of sight, out of public view, by putting them in the locker room. They’re doing this to placate its ultra-conservative, white supporter base and white political power establishment. And by fining players who publicly protest, the league is also trying to make this a financial decision for players.
So because of the NFL’s utter ineptitude, the anthem controversy will be around a long time. I predict that it will be messy, ugly, and divisive. The union and the league will likely go to war, and swaths of America will fight over it.
Why has the NFL handled this so badly, crafting a knee-jerk policy based solely on fear, not practicality? The answer is crystal clear: an intense, chronic fear of President Donald Trump. This is the unadulterated basis for the NFL’s jittery decision. So I asked myself: exactly what does the NFL fear? It fears boycotts of games. It fears people not watching on television. It fears people will not buy its products and merchandize.
Yet there is absolutely no evidence that these things will come to pass. But the essential takeaway from the NFL’s action goes to something deeper and scarier in America today. Every thing is transactional – social justice, civil and human rights, fairness, tolerance and the rights of American citizens.
All that runs a distant second to money and the looming abject fear of an equally transactional president. The NFL’s bottom line is not in jeopardy. The league recently signed a $2billion deal with Verizon. And nobody is closing concession stands anytime soon.