OPINION by T. KEITH GURNEE
The firestorm that has broken out between President Trump and the NFL over our nation’s flag and the National Anthem only proves one thing: two wrongs don’t make a right. How can both sides be so wrong?
Last season, 49er Quarterback Colin Kaepernick started it by taking a knee during the National Anthem as his way of protesting for the “Black lives Matter” movement. When he did it, he claimed our flag was a symbol of oppression to him, in utter ignorance of the fact that men and women have fought and died for that flag so he could exercise his freedom of speech.
Should we like what he did? No. Was it an inappropriate act of disrespect and poor judgement? Absolutely. But should we defend his right to do what he did as free speech, despite not liking what he did? Of course.
Then Donald Trump had to jump into the fray by calling NFL protesters “SOBs” and asking the NFL to fire them for disrespecting our flag. The reaction? Whole teams took a knee or stood arm-in-arm during recent games to protest Trump’s remarks.
Certainly Trump had to be hoping that his comments would stir support for our flag and what it represents. After all, in many venues, the players who have taken a knee did so to a chorus of boos accompanied by dropping their TV ratings by 13 percent.
But in this bitterly divided nation where those who lost the 2016 election remain strident haters and resisters of all things Trump, Trump threw even more gas on that fire while tarnishing his Presidency and revealing his limited understanding of our Constitution in the process.
Then enter Pittsburg Steelers coach Mike Tomlin who condemned the one member of his team—a decorated Army veteran–who exercised his right to free speech by standing up with his hand over his heart to honor the flag. That team member served three tours of duty in Afghanistan earning a Bronze Star for bravery fighting for our country so that we could enjoy the right of free speech.
If anything, Tomlin’s rant was worse than Trump’s. That lone teammate was the only one who did something right, and the sales of his jersey are said to be off the charts!
So where do we find ourselves now? Trump’s incendiary comments and the stridency of his detractors have suddenly made the flag a symbol of resistance to Trump rather than the symbol of honor for our great nation. Have we lost our way? It seems so.
While Trump and the NFL have been more wrong than right, what is it about the misplaced emphasis of the Black Lives Matter movement, the apparent inspiration for what some NFL players are doing? If black lives matter, then why don’t black lives matter on the streets of Chicago where black-on-black homicides are pandemic? What is Black Lives Matter doing about that?
Why can’t the Black Lives Matter and the anti-Trump resistance movements transform themselves from being negative advocates for anarchy into a positive force to bring about real change and social progress in our nation?
Instead of wasting time and energy on demonstrations and riots against Trump and law enforcement, it’s high time these movements seize the opportunity Trump has unwittingly given them: the opportunity to join together with the NFL as well as law enforcement and our national leaders to do something positive in combating the violence on the streets of Chicago and other high black-on-black crime cities like Detroit, New Orleans, St. Louis, or Dallas.
Why doesn’t the NFL make a point requiring teams scheduled to play together in high crime cities to devote their energies to engage communities suffering from black-on-black crime the day before the games to be played? Why don’t our national leaders make an effort to do the same?
Constantly protesting is nothing more than a quest for notoriety. Doing something constructive and humble to actually solve the problem is the nobler cause.
If we set our minds to make such things happen to soothe these roiling waters, perhaps then we can bring about racial equality and social justice in ways that will command the type of respect among all of us that our flag so sorely deserves.