Stevie Takes a Knee


No harm is being done to anyone, anwhere, by the NFL players kneeling, or locking arms, or staying in their locker rooms during the singing of the national anthem before football games. There’s plenty of venom being aimed at these players, but the real issue isn’t about kneeling vs. standing.


Colin Kaepernick started this movement last year, sitting on the bench at first, simply not standing for the anthem. Another NFL player and former Green Beret, Nate Boyer, suggested to Kaepernick that he might kneel instead; this is what soldiers do at the grave of a fallen comrade as a gesture of respect.


The way NFL players with differing political views show mutual respect and support in this situation is kinda inspirational, and we could all learn a lot from their behavior. Some guys stand during the anthem, and clasp a hand on the shoulder of a teammate who's kneeling, etc.


We can all have our different opinions and ways of expressing them. That sounds kinda obvious, but somehow it's become all controversial here. Largely because of Trump's crude, undignified remarks, calling these young athletes "sons of bitches" and suggested they (or anyone) should be fired because of their political opinion.


That's what really ignited this whole thing. Trump has no sense of tact or diplomacy, just a fragile ego and a short fuse and a disturbing tendency to give backhanded support and validation to white supremacists. This is the latest in a long line of his racially inappropriate and highly divisive comments.


It really is an important question: when and how should black citizens protest? And who should make that decision? Trump and his backers derided Jemele Hill to hell and back for expressing negative opinions about Trump in her personal tweets. Wanted her FIRED (of course). This was bordering on hilarious coming from Trump, the undisputed champion of obnoxious, ignorant, insulting twitter rants. But it raises serious concerns, and reeks of a gag order.


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Stevie Wonder took a knee during a recent concert, in support of these athletes. Stevie's damn show, and Stevie's damn stage. A lot of outrage and condemnation came his way, too. Ugly, raw racism and a torrent of online venom about "that stupid rich n***** " etc.


And a former Republican congressman, Joe Walsh (NOT the great rock guitarist, folks) tweeted this: "Another ungrateful black multimillionaire."


This is a hideous but revealing statement. Think about it for a minute. "Ungrateful"? Stevie Wonder should be grateful to white Republicans, maybe, or...to whom exactly? Stevie didn't earn every damn thing he's got, with his sheer brilliance and innovation and musical mastery? He didn't spend an entire lifetime on the road and in the studio singing and playing his heart out?


Here's part of the prayer Stevie Wonder offered that night:


“Both knees and prayers for our planet, our future, our leaders of the world, and our globe. I wanted to say that prayer before I serve you my musical meal...All of us are valuable and important and must take care of each other and this planet."


There's no rational way of stretching that statement into "ungrateful." It's clear where Congressman Walsh and all these other motherfuckers stand: No black person should be allowed to protest, no way, no how. There's no "right" place or time.


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Which brings us back to the NFL players.


They're expressing political opinions, which is plainly their right. There are plenty of criticisms they should take their politics "somewhere else", but that's a misdirection from the basic fact that some people don't like what these athletes are saying.


The whole point of a peaceful protest is to get people's attention, and these NFL players have a stage that gives them a whole lot of visibility. They earned it. They worked their whole lives to get where they are, and the bigot-in-Chief has no right to silence their voices.


In the context of staging a protest, the NFL take-a-knee is beautiful. It gets attention, makes people talk, it's peaceful and legal and no one gets beaten up or arrested or shot. That's how these things should happen in America.


And the idea that these young men should be "forced" to stand up during the national anthem is ass-backwards. That's fascism, and besides, you can't force respect. But again, nothing about these protests in any way demeans America or the flag; some people try to paint the situation that way, 'cause they're pissed about the real statement these young men are making.


That statement, thanks to Trump's remarks, has now expanded beyond criticism of police violence. The protests are now also a simple expression of unity, and a refusal to be silenced.

Trump has delusions of dictatorship. He's a petty thug at heart, and despite the damage he's causing to many of our institutions and cherished principles in this country, he can't drown out the voice of the American people.

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