Barton Swaim on how Kaepernick fails to make his point

barton

Columbia’s own Barton Swaim has yet another nationally published opinion piece out there, headlined “Kaepernick’s symbolism misses the point,” in The Washington Post today.

And unlike Kaepernick, Barton hits the mark.

You know how I’m always blathering about how I think street protests, among other unseemly forms of expression, are generally unhelpful? That’s what Barton’s on about. And the problem, as he identifies it, is imprecision. Quite right.

Noting that Kaepernick now protests that he was misunderstood, Barton writes:

He was right. It was a misunderstanding. And that’s precisely the problem with symbols and symbolic gestures in the realm of political debate — they’re understood by different people in different ways, and not always in ways consistent with original intent. By choosing not to stand (he sat on the bench during the anthem for the Aug. 26 game against Green Bay and knelt during the anthem for the Sept. 1 game in San Diego), Kaepernick wants to say something about racial injustice. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told the NFL Network after the Packers game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”

Kaepernick evidently has some strong views on this subject, but what are they, exactly? Does he believe, say, that most Americans are racists? That most police officers target African Americans for harassment? That the United States as a whole deliberately and systematically persecutes African Americans? Somehow I doubt he would agree with any of these things without qualification — and yet they are all rational inferences from his refusal to honor the flag of a “country that oppresses black people and people of color.”…

Indeed. Barton is a wordsmith, and seems to share my horror at the thought of expressing oneself without being specific and explanatory.

And yet we are surrounded by people doing precisely that, from tattoos to grand public gestures. Harrumph.

In an age when there is no barrier to blogging, for instance, there is no excuse for failing to explain oneself — especially when one has done something that shouts only one thing clearly: “Look at me!”

As young mothers tell toddlers, use your words.

Now, changing the subject slightly, Barton’s piece goes on to say:

When pressed further to explain his views after the Chargers game, he wasn’t helpful. What was he trying to convey? “The message is that we have a lot of issues in this country that we need to deal with. We have a lot of people that are oppressed. We have a lot of people that aren’t treated equally, aren’t given equal opportunities. Police brutality is a huge thing that needs to be addressed. There are a lot of issues that need to be talked about, need to be brought to life, and we need to fix those.” President Obama reinforced that message on Monday. “If nothing else,” the president said, “what he’s done is he’s generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about.” Reminding Americans that they need to “talk about” and “deal with” a problem that already consumes them is not, perhaps, the wisest of political exhortations. And in any case, one wonders what nation in the history of the world has not had dire “issues” that needed to be talked about and dealt with. Has there ever been a nation sufficiently issue-free to merit Kaepernick’s reverence?

I call your attention in particular to this bit: “Reminding Americans that they need to ‘talk about’ and ‘deal with’ a problem that already consumes them is not, perhaps, the wisest of political exhortations.”

I’ve been told for all my adult life that we need to “talk” about race in America. And you know me; I have generally obliged without hesitation. I can talk all day and all night about such a thing, and on occasion can even bring myself to listen.

But I bring the point up now because, right after reading Barton’s piece this morning, I saw this other opinion item in the Post, headlined, “It’s time to stop talking about racism with white people.” Excerpts:

Why are we losing solid hours out of our day, wearing our fingertips numb on keyboards and touch screens in an attempt to explain to some dense dude-bro why “All lives matter” is a messed up and functionally redundant response to “Black lives matter”?…

If Colin Kaepernik’s decision to stand against social injustice by sitting during the National Anthem has shown us anything else, it’s that much of white America is more bothered by our methods of protest than they ever will be about the injustices we’re protesting. Let’s dispel the notion that if we only protested better, white people will miraculously become more receptive of our message and less scornful of our audacity in speaking out….

Black people, it is long past time for us to start practicing self-care. And if that means completely disengaging with white America altogether, then so be it….

Zack Linly seems to have given up on making himself understood at a fairly early age (I’m going more by the way he expresses himself in seeing him as young, but for all I know he could be as old as Brett Bursey). Which is sad. Because as Barton suggests — even though he, too, seems a bit weary of the conversation, we need to communicate better about these things.

But there’s hope! Mr. Linly and Mr. Swaim seem to have some promising common ground, judging by the cover photo the former chose for his Facebook page. They both have a sense of the futility of some street action. But then, I could be misunderstanding this message, too…

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42 thoughts on “Barton Swaim on how Kaepernick fails to make his point

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    You sort of hit on the point, buried in the barrage of verbiage: Kaepernick is not a wordsmith. He’s a football player. Barton Swaim and Brad Warthen make bank with words. It’s all well and good for you to say he should use his words. Maybe he doesn’t have many.
    I recall being all choked up when they played the Star-spangled Banner in Breaking Away, which I saw after several months as an exchange student in England (where it was intended as a compliment to tell me “you don’t seem like an American”). But America has been berry berry good to me. It is not easy being black here, even a black star athlete. If he felt like he didn’t want to stand, I support his not standing.
    Maybe if we did more *listening* about race…..

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      As you say — your “Breaking Away” example — one can communicate powerfully without words. Hollywood is full of what Helmholtz Watson would term superb emotional engineers.

      You and the president can be all understanding and say you support his not standing (or as the president put it, at least he accomplished X), but I cannot.

      Not standing for the anthem, when one is one of the pampered, privileged players on the field, is completely and utterly unacceptable.

      It is a slap in the face. And while a slap in the face might be an excellent way of getting someone’s attention, it needs to be followed up with a very, very good explanation, delivered with alacrity. If a football player is incapable of formulating that explanation, he should do the civil thing and get on his feet like everyone else.

      Reply
      1. Kathryn Fenner

        He’s black. Before he was a (temporarily, in all likelihood) “pampered and privileged” player, and to those like me who have no idea who he is, he’s a black man who could easily get shot doing any number of things that you or I have pretty close to zero chance of…..just to name one thing.

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Oh, and as a lifelong clueless, “privileged” white man, I don’t believe that unacceptable behavior (such as figuratively slapping people in the face, and failing to adequately explain why) is excused by the color of one’s skin.

          Privilege, in the real world, is circumstantial, and mutable. As you say, one who is a privileged character today may not be tomorrow. And vice versa, I say hopefully as one who suddenly lost a significant measure of circumstantial privilege several years back.

          And I am acutely aware that many of my black friends don’t always view it that way. This cognitive disconnect is a painful and tragic circumstance of our history. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over seeing smart, thoughtful black friends cheer O.J. Simpson’s acquittal in his criminal trial (and yes, I actually, physically saw this, unlike Trump’s apocryphal Muslims cheering 9/11). I saw him as this rich, famous guy who had all the necessary resources to beat a rap whether he was guilty or not, to the extent it was possible to do so. They did not.

          I wrote a column about that at the time that I didn’t run, because while it was thoughtful and searching, my utter lack of a clue as to what we could DO about that disconnect just seemed too despairing to me…

          Reply
          1. Kathryn Fenner

            Sez you that sitting during the national anthem is “unacceptable behavior” [said with Dowager Duchess voice]. I don’t think it’s at all unacceptable behavior. Not singing during the anthem because it’s being melismized to death (Wooooah say-ay-ay-ay can you-ah see-hee? Ba-yeeee the dawn’s early laaaaaahhhhheeet!) is unacceptable.

            I know of zero white Americans besides Rachel Dolezal who would swap their skin tone for a black person’s. The opposite is clearly not true in a world with skin bleaches for sale, and people who “pass” for white. Nobody tries to “pass” for black except Ms. Dolezal.

            And we have gone round and round on privilege and you just don’t ever get it. Let’s call this Discussion Macro Two, after Discussion Macro One, which is abortion.

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Yes, intelligent, well-meaning people often disagree.

              And no, I can’t possibly know what it’s like to be black, or a woman. Just as I can’t possibly know what it’s like to be that white guy I see sitting a few feet away from me here at my club as I type this. (By the way, the members I see around me are half white, half black. Because the club was founded to be that way.)

              Just as, to riff on something I read last night in my umpteenth effort to make myself read A Tale of Two Cities, I remain a closed book to my fellow members.

              Let’s try to empathize for a moment… I suspect my fellow members see me as an antisocial snob, as I prefer doing this to joining in with their raucous happy-hour merriment.

              And to a point, they’re right. But there’s another factor: I find it difficult, to the point of unpleasantness, to try to participate in a conversation with all this background noise. My hearing problem, you see.

              But I’m also not as perturbed at people thinking I’m a snob as some would be. Which is not an admirable trait, I know…

              Reply
          2. JesseS

            I’ve probably told this a million times, but that was a day I’ll never forget.

            I grew up in a town with a white majority of about 60:40, but the public schools were 40:60, because many white families sent their kids to the mostly white academy. Through all of K-12 there was a single white principal and he was there due to illness for only a few months. Not that this produced a lot of fairness for black kids who still got the brunt of punishment. Seems that is how it plays out in America or at least the southern part.

            The first few months of that year were bad when it came to racial tensions.

            One day a white kid from New Jersey thought it would be funny to show up to school in a print dress, his hair in corn rows and “jelly shoes” on his feet. I had to pull him out of the hallway and into the library as he was beaten down by every black kid who saw him. It’s tough to explain why that was so offensive to people outside of the south or even to young kids today. He might as well have been wearing some “Mammy” outfit with black face.

            It’s even tougher to explain why he was clearly in the wrong (they gave him suspension, though everyone knew it should have been immediate expulsion since he was a bit of a problem child) and the students were in the “right”. If he weren’t a minor you could have made a good argument that he deserved a felony charge for attempting to incite a riot.

            It only got worse. On the day of the verdict many white parents didn’t even send their kids to school. Of course my parents would have none of that. Mama was a substitute teacher and I was going to school no matter what.

            The verdict came around Chemistry class and there were two white people in the room: Me and the teacher.

            We were both visibly nervous and everyone else was anxious. She turned the TV on and someone commented: “We’re gonna burn this place down if he’s guilty”.

            The teacher nervously laughed as a few students at the back of the room started flicking cigarette lighters. “No ma’am, we promise you, we are going to burn the building down if he is guilty.”

            She didn’t laugh that time. Surrounded by Bunsen burners, dry textbooks, and cabinets full of chemicals we were in the most flammable room on campus. Pretty sure she and I both had our fingers crossed behind our backs, begging the Lord for a not guilty verdict.

            When it came down there were shouts of joy. Papers were thrown around the room, someone opened the windows, and the class started chanting “____ you! You can’t tell us what do to anymore!”. Students began to pour out of the window and soon other students in other classes began to join in.

            No idea where they went. The teacher, in a state of shock, turned off the TV and told me what page to turn my text book to as if nothing had happened.

            The next day no one even mentioned it. It was if it never happened.

            As frightening as that was, I can’t say I blamed any of them. It wasn’t like that group of kids could have said, “Finally, we have a symbolic victory for years of mistreatment and we revel in receiving this one, solitary moment of schadenfreude! Oh course he is guilty! Who cares! How many of our innocent suffer every day when you’ve done nothing but turn your heads?” That would have made a horrible chant.

            Now when I tell those stories to people it’s always easy to pick out the racists and the radicals. The racists generally respond with “well that’s exactly the kind of animals they are” and the radicals assume it is either a racist fabrication or they chastise me for not joining in the walk out, as if I were the guy at Selma with a water cannon. Honestly, I’m just a coward and cowards don’t run off with angry mobs.

            We are all animals or at least we all have a fight or flight response. If a kid dressed up as a share cropper’s daughter or the trial of the century is enough to elicit that kind of response solely because of your race, things are probably bad. Those are reflections of self-perception and basic justice.

            On the other hand, if Kaepernick not standing at a football game is enough to cause an angry response with whites, what does that reflect? Who has the real problem of perspective?

            At least black America is getting worked up over things that involve dead bodies and not what whites think people should be doing when they are really spending $40 for nachos and a coke.

            This doesn’t even get into the divisive and sometimes trivial stuff the far-left would much rather talk about, like how we should abolish the national anthem because Woodrow Wilson endorsed it or the forgotten 3rd stanza where it celebrates killing slaves who were ironically fighting for their freedom or how college football/NFL/boxing could be considered modern day Mandingo fighting due to the number of black players, white viewers, and CTE (don’t get me wrong, I love some college football, but I also feel a bit ashamed when I hear those comparisons –though I kinda brush it off since there was no such thing as Mandingo fighting and every culture loves it’s blood sport).

            You don’t see Kaepernick complaining about those things, so I guess he has already met us far, far from the center of crazy town.

            Reply
        2. Kathryn Fenner

          And maybe we deserve a slap in the face to wake us up from our privileged complacency.
          One of my husband’s Harvard classmates, also an alum of Sidwell Friends School in DC, is a professor at Tufts and he is black. He is vastly more polished in speech and appearance (he’s also gay) than either of us. After the round of unwarranted police shootings of black men, he posted a Facebook meme listing all the things he couldn’t be safe doing as a black man. I commented, and he agreed, that in fact he *could* do those things, only so long as he dressed impeccably and comported himself prudently—which makes it “his fault” if he doesn’t–just like the women who get raped and are blamed for what they wear or how much they drank….

          Reply
  2. Karen Pearson

    Kaepernick may be a pampered and privileged” player, but if he’s not in a sports surrounding, and not dressed out for a game (or at least a jacket with the name of his team and its logo written on it, he runs the chance of being “shot while walking black.” And we’re great about talking about how awful it is, but we’re not really putting our back into doing something about it.

    A question: If symbols are so unreliable, how can we possibly use them to communicate? That includes flying a flag or playing an anthem, since both are symbols. Sorry, but I think the biggest problem with his choice, given how little, we’ve done to protect our black (or Indian, or Middle Eastern) citizens, is that it bothers a lot of those who have done so little.

    Reply
    1. Kathryn Fenner

      heck, I’m not sure he’s safe even in his team regalia, because it can read too “urban.” He must wear a bespoke suit and well=polished shoes at all times!

      Reply
      1. Doug Ross

        How about his socks, which depicted policemen as pigs? Did that advance the discussion in a positive way?

        Everybody wants to talk or write about race. Do something. How many black people do any of you interact with on a personal level every day? Is your workplace integrated? If not, what actions are you taking to change that? Is your neighborhood integrated? Why not? How about performing a real action like moving to an integrated neighborhood? That’s tangible and meaningful…unlike talking about oppression and phony privilege.

        Reply
        1. Kathryn Fenner

          My neighborhood has had black student residents, and in fact has a black family who own a nice home here. We live here because Steve can walk to work both on campus and at the cathedral, a laudable reason. I don’t work. I do interact with the black people sitting out smoking or just hanging out when I walk the dogs in the early morning — in fact, on an average weekday, I probably interact with far more blacks than whites.

          Reply
  3. bud

    We all do what we can to effect change. Brad blogs, Kaepernick sits. I see no distinction. Frankly the national anthem should be changed to something else since it really is quite offensive by it’s vainglorious glorification of war. That subtle war-mongering message is reason enough to sit.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Right…

      Here’s the distinction: I will make a point of standing for the anthem.

      And if some other country’s anthem is playing, I’ll stand for that.

      Simple matter of being civil and respectful to other people.

      This is not rocket science.

      And if you’re so offended at living in a nation that was founded in war, good luck finding one that wasn’t. Technically, you might go with one of the countries in the British Commonwealth that did NOT rise against the Crown. About as close as you can get. Canada, Australia. Just don’t look too closely at how they were originally colonized.

      Once you get there, I wish you much joy in sneering at us from a distance…

      Reply
    2. Bryan Caskey

      “Frankly the national anthem should be changed to something else since it really is quite offensive by it’s vainglorious glorification of war.”

      Okay, now I’m desperately hoping we get bud’s top five potential new topics for the American national anthem.

      Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Ah, “Imagine.” The song by a narcissist with the message, “Believe in nothing.”

          The theme is stated more overtly in the song, “God,” but it’s pretty clear in “Imagine.”

          Would it not be passing strange for a NATIONAL anthem to wistfully hold out this dream: “Imagine there’s no countries…”?

          Beautiful tune. A very negating, nihilistic song…

          I could overlook the message when I was 17 (an age at which one’s critical faculties are so undeveloped that one could even find these sentiments profound) because I wanted so much to love the song. As time wore on, I no longer could.

          From that album, I prefer “Jealous Guy.”

          Reply
          1. Doug Ross

            “Would it not be passing strange for a NATIONAL anthem to wistfully hold out this dream: “Imagine there’s no countries…”?”

            Well, you don’t really want borders (they’re “imaginary” too)… so if we don’t have borders, how can we have countries?

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Very good question.

              And here’s my very good answer.

              The thing that makes this country special, great, exceptional if you will, is that it is a nation of ideas. It’s not about this piece of turf or that one, or a particular race of people, or any of the usual things that patriotism has focused on in the past.

              Ideas don’t have borders.

              And the idea of America is one that is eminently worth standing for, above all others (or as ze Germans would say, über alles)…

              Reply
              1. Doug Ross

                Hey, then let’s save all the trouble and just let anyone in the imaginary country of Mexico call themselves Americans and save the trip across the imaginary border. We can just send them tax dollars directly.

                Or they can stand on the other side of the imaginary border and we can toss packets of money across.

                Reply
  4. Bryan Caskey

    I feel like we used to have an overarching sense of Americanism that that pulled us together to overcome our differences.

    That overarching sense of Americanism seems like it’s being chipped away at, brick by brick, which leaves us disunited. We’re turning into balkanized little interest groups competing for social acceptance and quite frankly, social power. Trump is but one example. He’s the avatar for identity politics for dumb white people who are disaffected and want to blame someone for their lot in life. I’m sure you can think of plenty of other examples of people like that for other groups.

    We’ve become a nation of complainers. Of protesters. Of the offended. Of the triggered.

    We’re becoming a nation of people that have no common sense of identity.

    Kapernick is symptomatic of that.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Then, Bill, perhaps you could do what he failed to do, and tell us what he meant by sitting.

      What, precisely, is the thing he believes this entire country is doing that is so wrong that the entire nation — all the people and institutions represented by the flag — deserves this gesture of scorn? What, precisely, would have to happen for him to be willing to stand? Is there a proposal out there? Is he making a proposal himself? What is it?

      Remember, the point of Barton’s piece is that this is not an effective mode of communication. Do you disagree with that? Why?

      Reply
      1. Doug Ross

        He’s saying that we as a nation are not doing enough fast enough to change policies related to how minorities are treated. If we’re all in it together for the good stuff, we all are in it together for the bad stuff as well. I’m not saying I agree with the focus of his protest but I can understand the level of frustration. And I can sympathize with those who have been treated as second class citizens by the government throughout the history of this country. When the national anthem was written, it wasn’t intended to represent blacks or native American Indians — or women.

        Reply
          1. Doug Ross

            Do you think the principal who recently banned American flags at Travelers Rest high school football games because they were offensive to Hispanic students from Berea did the right thing?

            The ensuing outrage prompted principal Lou Lavely to issue a statement explaining his decision. According to Greenville Online the school’s opponent, Berea, has a large Hispanic community, and Lavely thought the American flags could be used for taunting the other team.

            “Any decision to not allow the American flag to be used in an improper ‘taunting,’ unsportsmanlike manner is first and foremost in the interests of promoting the safety and well-being of all in attendance at school events,” he wrote. “This decision would be made anytime that the American flag, or any other symbol, sign, cheer, or action on the part of our fans would potentially compromise the safety of all in attendance at a school event.”
            Lavely received the support of both Berea’s principal and the school district.
            “Greenville County Schools encourages and supports the appropriate display of the United States Flag in accord with the United States Flag Code,” the district wrote in a statement. “We do not condone the use of the Flag to shield unsportsmanlike or inappropriate conduct. To allow such use is disrespectful to the Flag, the principles which it represents and the sacrifices of those who have and are serving to defend it.”

            Reply
            1. Claus

              This is the mentality of the people we’re hiring to lead public schools. It’s no wonder home schooling is becoming more and more popular.

              Reply
            2. Bart

              Maybe someone can provide a reasonable and legitimate answer to my question. If the game had been played in an Hispanic country, would the Hispanics not flown the appropriate country’s flag at the game if the other team had a large number of American students in their school? So why the hell is the American flag flown at a football game played in America offensive to Hispanics if they are living in America and playing a football game in America?

              Did the Travelers Rest team indicate they were going to use the flag to disrespect the team because of a high number of Hispanic students attending Berea? Did the Travelers Rest student body indicate they were going to disrespect the team from Berea by flying the flag in their faces and taunting them?

              No, this was a decision by a principal who had no damn business to interpret something that apparently was not there except in his mind. Therefore the following is nothing but conjecture on the part of the principal. “..and Lavely thought the American flags “could” (emphasis mine) be used for taunting the other team.” Could be used? BS, total BS on the part of Lavely and yet Berea’s principal and the school district supported his decision.

              As for Colin Kaepernick, continue to sit on your helmet during the national anthem. Apply a liberal amount of Preparation H to the top of your helmet and maybe it will be an effective way to treat your hemorrhids that are probably a result of being a total ass.

              For the record, Kaepernick is bi-racial. His birth mother is white and his father black. When his biological father found out the mother was pregnant, he left. She was destitute and gave him up for adoption to the Kaepernick family, a “white” family. They raised him as their son along with their other two children. Did the Kaepernick family mis-treat Colin while he was growing in Fond-Du-Lac, Wisconsin? Was he an outcast among his peers?

              No, Colin Kaepernick was and still is an exceptional athlete and apparently well accepted by his family, friends, and peers. He was offered baseball scholarships and could have signed with a pro baseball team if he wanted to. Instead he went to Nevada and played football. Colin Kaepernick lived a very good life after he was adopted.

              Let’s say I am skeptical about what motivated him to become an activist.

              Reply
            3. Brad Warthen Post author

              Oops! Meant to answer this earlier, and got sidetracked:

              Do you think the principal who recently banned American flags at Travelers Rest high school football games because they were offensive to Hispanic students from Berea did the right thing?

              No.

              Based on the information I’ve seen, I’d say no.

              I did, when I read about that, sort of get the feeling there was something going on beyond what I knew about it. For instance, WHY did the principal think students might use the flag simply to taunt Hispanic students? Had something like that already happened? Had a pattern developed? Did he have reason to think that’s what the bringing-flags-to-school thing was about?

              I don’t know, but I’m curious. That doesn’t seem like something an administrator would simply get into his head out of nowhere. Unless he’s just crazy.

              In my experience, public school administrators are very averse to political risk. So what made this guy decide to put his head in a noose this way? I’ve curious….

              Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Nope. Neither is anyone else. Which is why no one sings them.

              I seem to recall having all the words of that and other patriotic songs in front of me when I was a kid, but I couldn’t begin to recite any of them.

              But yes, I know what you’re talking about, since news stories about Kaepernick mention the problem.

              Do you suppose Kaepernick knew that? I’d be surprised if he did, but anything is possible. In any case, I feel sure that no one in the stadium was singing those other verses…

              Reply
      2. Bill

        Yeah, I disagree with Swain about 70-80% of the time. And this will only raise that percentage. What does that percentage mean? Nothing specific. So I guess it’s kinda like Kaepernick’s protest. But I’m not gonna worry myself about it. Frankly, I’m not too concerned about trying to link every demonstration of public protest with specific and concrete policy proposals just to lend it greater credence in the eyes of the scribbling class. There are plenty of folks out there who are (more) capable and willing to do that.

        Be honest, it’s not a matter of specifics. You just don’t like to see anybody “disrespecting” the US flag – and, more generally, find public protest distasteful. Me – I’m not one of the ueber-patriots who get all bent out of shape every time somebody “disses” the flag.

        As for the “conversation about race” touched on in the latter half of your post, I am often struck by just how resistant, even resentful many whites are any time the subject is raised. Too many just don’t want to look. Kapernick’s protest likely won’t do anything to change that, but, given the resistance, I can understand the frustration that led him to do what he did.

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Oh, I’m completely honest. I make it plain that I disapprove of anyone disrespecting the flag — or other countries’ flags, either, but particularly this one, for my aforementioned reasons.

          But the inarticulateness of the gesture is also a serious issue. It’s always a problem when an adult — as opposed to a sulky 2-year-old — does something calculated to generate an emotional reaction, and fails to justify the action.

          I particularly liked Barton’s piece because I had had the same reaction: What is this player’s beef with the whole COUNTRY — not this or that incident or individual or action or decision — which is what the anthem represents?

          And that is not clear, for the simple fact that it’s not a clear way to communicate.

          I’m not being obtuse.

          But yeah, one reason I want him to explain himself is because I highly doubt that his explained reason for his slap at the country would hold up to scrutiny. If, for instance, he is holding the entire country responsible for what some cops did in several incidents, then he doesn’t have a case. And if he’s saying something else — OK, I’m listening. What is it?

          Reply
          1. Bill

            “his slap at the country”

            Huhn? I’m part of the country and I don’t feel the least bit slapped by what he did. How old is this grand old tradition of standing for the anthem anyway? The practice was incorporated into US Code round about the time The Star-Spangled Banner was made the official US national anthem – in 1931. So the republic survived a good long while without it.

            Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Actually, you know what — that’s probably an exaggeration. I have SIGNIFICANT disagreements with the Policy Council. It’s whole raison d etre is somewhat at odds with the way I look at things.

            That doesn’t necessarily mean I disagree with the great majority of particular proposals they put forward. Small-government (think bathtub-sized) advocates like the Policy Council can frequently find common ground with us good-government advocates.

            Reply
          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            I used to have these arguments with Ed McMullen when he headed the Policy Council. I would call them a libertarian organization; he would say they were not. But what do you call this:

            The organization’s purpose was – and still is – to publish research and analysis showing the relevance of the American republic’s founding principles: limited government, free enterprise, and individual liberty and responsibility.

            Reply

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