Editor’s Note: Kevin Patrick Kelly’s “Towards A Millennial Revolution” is published every Monday OR Wednesday.
This was evident in a recent public opinion poll, which was amazingly broken down by Shannon Sharpe. Among those polled, 47 percent opposed the Quarterback’s protest, with just 32 percent supporting his decision to kneel during the National Anthem.
The original intent of the protest was to help project a spotlight onto America’s epidemic of African Americans being unnecessarily killed at an alarming rate by police officers. Again, just recently, helicopter and dash cam video revealed the death of unarmed African-American motorist Terence Crutcher at the hands of Tulsa Officer Betty Shelby. His only crime was pulling off to the side of the road in an attempt to fix his automobile.
Crutcher’s death appeared to harden the Quarterback’s belief in his protest: “This is a perfect example of what this is about.”
Crutcher’s murder, combined with Kaepernick’s kneeling has furthered the conversation about the need to erect a new criminal justice system. In my observations of the athlete’s protest, one of the unintended consequences of Kaepernick’s activism has been the following: Exposing some character flaws in America.
Within the same poll dissected by Sharpe, 44 percent asserted that they would boycott the NFL if the demonstrations became widespread. Where were the boycott campaigns when Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice physically assaulted his fiancée and the NFL Commissioner only wanted to give the young athlete a two game suspension? Where was the boycott when the NFL attempted to silence medical personnel and other whistleblowers who exposed the concussion epidemic?
Answer: there was none.
In the same week as the Crutcher murder, former Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka told Kaepernick to “get the hell out of the country” if he cannot stand during the National Anthem. In prior weeks, some have claimed that Kaepernick’s activism is sympathetic to Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group commonly known in the West as ISIS or ISIL). Some police unions have suggested withdrawing protection from some of the San Francisco games until the backup Quarterback decides to stand.
What does it say about a nation that is so numb to the scandals of “the game” and the murder of an African-American motorist, but in the same breathe engages in character assassination against an athlete trying to raise our collective conscience?
It seems that the critic Dwight MacDonald was right when he wrote:
We have grown callous to massacre. King Mithridates is said to have immunized himself against poison by taking small doses which he increased slowly. So the gradually increased horrors of the last decade have made each of us to some extent a moral Mithridates, immunized against human sympathy.
Kaepernick’s activism is attempting to awaken America from her comatose state, which is full of too many modern-day Mithridateses. For too long, too many Americans have become maladjusted to injustice. Only by unsettling them is there any hope. It is as Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, “People wish to be settled, but only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.”
Thankfully, enough NFL athletes are joining the San Francisco 49ers Quarterback in his demonstration. Millions of sports fans are now seeing images beamed into their homes of players from opposing teams either kneeling or raising their fists and bucking the various corporations that have signed endorsement contracts with them.
It is just as actor and activist Jesse Williams advised African-American entertainers during his BET Award speech when he said:
Now the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money – that alone isn’t gonna stop this. Alright, now dedicating our lives, dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back for someone’s brand on our body when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies, and now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies.
Brushfires of protest are spreading outside of NFL arenas to high school and college football stadiums. Student athletes are kneeling in solidarity with Kaepernick. It reminds one of what Twain wrote, “In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.”
A spark has been lit and as a result, more patriotic athletes will light fires in the minds of spectators across the country.
Content posted to MyMPN open blogs is the opinion of the author alone, and should not be attributed to MintPress News.