February 21, 2018

Waving the Victory Flag

No, we didn’t forget what all this has been about – as much as conservatives would want us to. Our new columnist Nino Erba opines.


Social media and the entire country are thoroughly fixated on the sports world now because what started out as a steadily increasing trickle of protest that started with Colin Kaepernick has become a deluge of similar protesting. Of course, some of it is completely insincere and deserves to be called out. Still, there are probably few cases where Donald Trump has been more counterproductive, and it’s amazing.

You’ve heard the news by now. Trump went on a massive tirade about Colin Kaepernick and had grand visions of owners firing anyone who protested. It was racist in the extreme, but that’s nothing new with Trump. What makes this rant so thoroughly eye-opening is that he actually believed what he stated. He truly wanted to see a mass quashing of protesting players without any sort of mass reaction.

Needless to say, none of that happened. Jerry Jones and his dickhead move aside, the people who genuinely protested had their ranks explode over the last weekend. In fact, even baseball players are now protesting during the national anthem.

However, the best part about this protesting is that it practically wins every argument being thrown at it.

Kaepernick’s original intention for protesting was to bring attention to police brutality and the enduring racism that permeates the United States every waking second. There’s no way that police brutality can be denied anymore thanks to social media, and we wouldn’t be in this chaotic mess if the Supreme Court kept up with the times. Yet, Kaepernick’s silent gesture was still too much for millions of Americans to digest, to the point that he’s no longer on a team. It’s pointless to reiterate that someone like Kaepernick is booted, yet players like Ben Roethlisberger and Adrian Peterson are still playing. But even before Trump, the ranks of protesting athletes were swelling. And the backlash even more frightening: the fact that everyone in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has a job after mistreating Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett and then doing everything they could to erase him is atrocious. But this is the country we live in.

Speaking of the country we live in, some people have gone as far as to accuse those protesting as disrespecting the American flag. What’s gratifying is that even in this baited argument, the protesters still win. Making the argument about patriotism means actually looking at what this country has done and what it stands for. And in that regard, especially with our foreign policy, it’s an infinitely futile argument.

There’s a horrifying history that we steadfastly refuse to acknowledge. It’s about those rights we still deny to oppressed communities. It’s about our stupendous hypocrisy about claiming to be about our rights, then trampling on those rights of people in other countries because we don’t like what they’re doing. We have U.S.-rooted coups and special ops forces happening all over the world now, and for what? We dropped over 26,000 bombs last year, and regularly disregard the suffering and atrocities happening to brown and black people while overemphasizing those happening to white people. And don’t forget there’s still a lingering foreign policy in some quarters of the U.S. believing that should be the “world’s policeman” without any sense of irony. It’s hard to tell what’s worse: how the police in this country treat other people, or how we as the “world’s policeman” have treated people elsewhere.

Well, those patriotism arguments won’t hold water for much longer. A recent report suggested that the post-WWII world order, led by the U.S., may finally be collapsing. Who knows when it will end, but it will, and we deserve any backlash that comes with it. (One more thing: Our country engaged in countless instances of election interference, so that’s that.)

No matter what, keep protesting. The focus should remain on racism and police brutality, as Kaepernick intended. However, there’s a truism I made a staple of last year that forever rings true: Racism against people in other countries is still racism. This country was founded on white supremacy, and shamelessly engages in colonialism and imperialism. All of which means that protesting like Kaepernick has is a fail-safe. It’s not about the flag, it’s what about that flag means and what it now represents. And so, we take the knee.


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