Ok… So lets say you’re really bent out of shape about the whole kneeling for the national anthem thing. I have a serious question for you. And I want you to sit down and think long and hard about it. Have you ever considered that you might be a racist? Don’t answer right away… I know the gut reaction is to say no. But for just a moment, think about it. Just really consider it. Let it sink in. Don’t let the word scare you. I’m talking about the concept… Maybe… just maybe… you really just don’t like black people. Maybe you fear them. Maybe you hate them.
I get it. Your gut reaction is that’s not true. See, it’s because we’ve made a slight miscalculation over the last few decades in America. We taught people that it is wrong to “be a racist.” We taught people that “racists are bad people.” No one wants to be a bad person. And so you took the logical solution. You decided “well, gosh darn it… I’m a good person, So I guess I must not be a racist.” We said that using “the N-word” was bad… so you stopped. We took away the Confederate flag so now you you’re forced to cling to the American one. Because you know that you’re not a bad person. You know that you’re not a racist. You’re a patriot.
I guess we weren’t clear. See, it wasn’t about the words. It wasn’t about the symbols. You’re not a patriot. You’re not a good person. You’re a racist! Sorry.
I’ve written about this before — about how if you’re really all up in arms about this, then you really don’t understand how the flag works. Granted, I really didn’t expect anyone to actually change their mind when I wrote it. In fact, I’ve also written before about how facts have nothing to do with political opinions and really aren’t very good at changing people’s minds. That’s still true. I know that. Really, the last time I ranted about this was mostly because I wanted to make fun of a guy for being an idiot and being offended by the flag protest. Why? Because I’m an asshole. It’s what I do. And I’m proud of it. I’m proud of my assholery, the same way you should be proud of your racism.
Let me explain.
See, yesterday my wife, Stephanie, started yet another Facebook conversation about the dumbass president’s ridiculous and poorly thought out war against the NFL and the kneeling during the anthem protest. Yeah, see… he’s a racist too. And he doesn’t really understand how the flag works. Her cousin, who is apparently a very big Trump supporter and also very offended by the flag protests went on a tirade about it. And he clung to one of the current big talking points about it “they can protest all they want. They should just do it outside of work.” Well, gee that sounds reasonable right? No one is allowed to protest at work, right? Wrong! Lots of people protest at work. Hell, I’ve done it. In fact, one specific type of work protest is so common that we have laws that govern the way it works and protects the protesters… labor strikes. So work protests happen all the time. And the simple truth is, as this individual was told by my sister-in-law, Dana, and my friend, Chris, not all jobs are created equal. So if you are somehow not allowed to protest what you perceive as a social injustice at work… well, sorry… your job fucking sucks. You should do something about that, Maybe protest.
But it’s a lie anyway. Because not all protests are equal. And your job doesn’t require you to stand for the national anthem or salute the flag. You made that up. Because if your job does require that, well… you should really sue. It’s pretty clearly unconstitutional. But the truth is, your job probably doesn’t actually play the national anthem and ask people to stand. BECAUSE PRETTY MUCH NO ONE’S DOES. And, as I pointed out before, the NFL didn’t either, until eight years ago. It’s not a tradition. It’s a commercial. You’re not offended by a break with tradition. because unless you’re a child, you lived through a time when it wasn’t a thing.
Anyway, after arguing for a while, this person sent my wife a bunch of videos as proof that the protesting players were wrong. The first is a video talking about how the NFL is inconsistent in it’s protest protection because they took issue with Tim Tebow praying before games and after touchdowns in 2012, forced RGIII to turn his Jesus shirt inside out during a post-game press conference, and they’ve repeated fined several players for unapproved uniform modifications (different shoe colors, mostly).
Let’s examine those. The NFL had no issue with Tebow … uh… Tebowing. Like at all. It was actually super popular. It was a meme and everything. That’s why we call it Tebowing. No… it was other people making fun of him. Keep in mind, he wasn’t protesting anything. He was just displaying his faith. No one said he couldn’t pray. We just made fun of him for it. We made fun of him because we’re godless heathens and we like chastising Christians. It’s like totally a thing… And a good one. Seriously… like a big part of Christianity is maintaining your faith while us godless heathens disparage you. It’s like in the bible and everything. I also personally made fun of him for being a virgin whose Miss Universe contestant girlfriend broke up with him because he wouldn’t fuck her. See, I do that sort of thing… because I’m a godless heathen. And an asshole. And I’m proud of it.
The NFL also didn’t actually tell RGIII to turn his shirt inside out. That’s story has been refuted many times. They actually fined him for wearing non-sponsored Adidas logos during a press conference the week before, so he took it upon himself to turn his Jesus t-shirt inside out. The NFL does fine players for wearing unapproved uniform modifications during games. That’s totally a rule – one that makes a lot more sense than the national anthem rule, because it actually occurs DURING the game… as opposed to the anthem which is BEFORE the game. But you know what… honestly, I think that’s stupid too. So long as the base uniform is right so I know what team people are on, I don’t give a fuck what shoes they’re wearing or what they have written on their eye-black. I don’t care, because it doesn’t affect the game or my enjoyment of it.
And you don’t care either. You really don’t. Whether a player kneels or stands during the national anthem has no bearing on the game at all. You wouldn’t even notice it if people weren’t making a big deal of it. Do you know how I know? Because Colin Kaepernick himself did it for weeks before anyone noticed. Because the NFL is full of players who have rape charges, drug charges, domestic abuse charges, and any number of other crimes and convictions. Because I honestly don’t know the political party or religion of any player on my favorite team. And it’s fine… because I don’t give a shit when I’m watching the game. What I care about is can the Steelers make the playoffs. Everything else is secondary.
I got a call last week from my uncle, Roger. He was very upset about people complaining about the kneeling protests. He wanted me to mention him next time I wrote about it. See, Roger is a Vietnam vet. He enlisted just to go to war. He’s one of those people you’re supposed to be supporting theoretically when you stand up for the flag. After the war, he went on to spend several decades as a firefighter. You know, those brave heroes we like to clap for after 9/11. Yep, that’s my uncle. Well, he basically says fuck you. See, Roger told me a story. When he was about 7 years old, and spent every morning in school reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, he started listening to the words. And then he realized that, as a black kid in the 50s, they didn’t really apply to him. So he stopped saying it. He just stopped. In silent protest. No one ever noticed. No one cared that he didn’t say it when he enlisted in the army years later to fight a war. And the families that he spent decades pulling out of burning buildings sure as fuck didn’t care whether he pledged allegiance to anything. Because not saying the pledge of allegiance had nothing to do with the job. But my uncle cares. My uncle cares because he feels like he doesn’t have “liberty and justice for all.”
And that’s the real point of the protests. Whether you agree with the players or not, THEY feel like there is a problem with the way black people are treated in this county. It actually doesn’t matter if they’re right or not (they are). What matters is that they feel that they are in a position where they are being forced to salute an ideology that they don’t believe in. Every single person who tries to say that you shouldn’t be able to protest during the national anthem uses the same rationalization: “This is disrespectful to all the men who died so that you could have your freedoms.” Well, you know what… fuck those men. If you died for my freedom and your idea of freedom was that I am not allowed to speak up about something that bothers me… well, fuck you. Yes, that’s what I said. See, once again. I AM AN ASSHOLE. I’m proud of it.
If your idea of the flag is that it is a symbol that stands beyond the right of people to protest what they see as racial injustice… well, you’re looking at the wrong flag. If you think everyone should be forced to salute an ideological symbol, even if they think it is counter to their beliefs or very survival… well, that’s called slavery. If you’re the kind of person who stands for the national anthem, who salutes the flag, or who speaks the pledge of allegiance, then what you are in effect saying is that you are pledging your loyalty to the ideology of the country. You are showing support. You are saying it works for you. It doesn’t work for everyone. And you shouldn’t want someone who doesn’t believe it is working for them to stand with you. Because in essence that makes your patriotic display meaningless. If everyone has to stand… well, then your standing doesn’t really mean anything. Compulsory patriotism isn’t patriotic at all. So if you believe everyone should stand for the anthem. Well, now I kind of question whether you actually believe in it at all.
Steph’s cousin also sent her links to two articles, about dangerous men who were released from police custody only to kill cops later that day. There was no context in these articles that linked them to the NFL protests. There’s no context that links them to #BlackLivesMatter. They’re simply “Blue Lives Matter” posts. They’re posts that imply that if we release black men… they’ll kill the police. That’s it. And I understand that some of you might be worried about that. But those two things are unrelated. It’s just a very real fear that you might have. Maybe, if you are pretty much always on the side that gets called racist, there’s something there. Maybe if you are so quick to send articles and videos that don’t actually have the facts right, but you didn’t even bother to check, and you just like them because they seem to support your point, there’s something there. Maybe… just maybe… you really just don’t like black people. Maybe you fear them. Maybe you hate them. Maybe you’re a racist. Be proud of it. Own it.