Protesting is enjoying a renaissance in America. Many of my Facebook friends (but not my North Dakota friends) are being drawn into the Indian protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Although it is hard to discern any valid reason for the protest (no endangered water or violated sacred lands), any self-respecting progressive is going to be attracted to a fight between good-guy victims (Indians) and the bad-guy thugs (Cowboys/oil companies). When the peaceful protests were ignored by the media, the protesters complained that the media had been co-opted by evil capitalists. And when the protests turned illegal (trespassing and vandalism), the arrested protesters charged police brutality. All pretty standard stuff from the 60s.
But even before the Cowboys vs. Indians protest, America was roiled by the Black Lives Matter protest. Now I have no disagreement with the BLM protest. Reasonable minds can disagree about whether there is a significant problem in America with the police treatment of black suspects. Personally, I think the problem is usually with the black suspects, but the perspective of others is that the problem is usually police bias or brutality. My response to the BLM protesters would not be “All Lives Matter,” but rather that I don’t believe your assertion that the police are acting as if Black Lives Don’t Matter.
The main controversy with the BLM is the form of protest. And I’m not referring to the hijacking of a Bernie Sanders speech. If he is such a namby-pamby to allow that, he has no business being president. I’m referring to the Colin Kaepernick conduct during the national anthem at NFL games. Clearly, Americans have the right to sit or kneel during the national anthem; the question is whether an employer should allow an employee to engage in a protest while on the job.
Most employers would not allow employees to engage in a protest while working, especially if the protest is controversial. But the NFL is not “most employers.” More than 70% of its players are black, so they are especially sympathetic to the BLM cause, even though most of its fans are not black or sympathetic. That is one of the reasons, imo, that NFL ratings are dropping dramatically this year.
Similarly, most of the NBA’s players are black, so we can expect the NBA to take a similar stand. Last week, a woman scheduled to sing the national anthem at a Sixer game appeared wearing an “We Matter” t-shirt, and a team underling apparently made a spontaneous battlefield decision to bench her and find a replacement singer. After the game, several players complained about this treatment of the prospective protester, and the Sixer management concluded that the underling had been wrong and the prospective protester had been wronged, so she they apologized to her and invited her back for another anthem, apparently with their approval to protest however she wants. I suspect the fans won’t welcome her as warmly as the Sixers do.
Another example of the Progressives flexing their politically-correct muscles occurred yesterday with the University of Wisconsin. During last week’s football game, a fan caused great uproar by appearing in an Obama mask with prison garb and a noose hanging around his neck. The University when it learned of the protest, seemed to act responsibly, just like the Sixer underling. The University stated the following after the game:
- “UW Athletics’ policy regarding admission into the stadium with a costume stipulates that no one may be wearing a mask upon entering the facility. Once inside, it is permissible to wear a mask. The costume, while repugnant AND COUNTER TO THE VALUES OF THE UNIVERSITY AND ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT, was an exercise of the individual’s right to free speech. The university also exercised its rights by asking the individual to remove the offensive parts of the costume.”
But Progressives were not satisfied and lodged a formal complaint with the University, and on Wednesday, the University crawfished, with AD Barry Alvarez announcing:
- “I am deeply troubled by the incident from last Saturday’s game, and I am sorry for the harm it caused. I am determined that nothing like this will happen again. I appreciated the opportunity to meet with a number of community leaders and students this afternoon to discuss our stadium policies. Our plan, before our next home football game, is to have a revised policy in place. Our department is committed to working collaboratively to make our stadium a great and safe place for fans to watch a football game.”
I look forward to reading how a public university (unlike a private professional team) accommodates the right of fans to protest while simultaneously making a stadium a “great place to watch a football game.” Are they going to ban masks because Obama masks are racist, at least when joined with prison garb? (Nooses are another matter.)
It seems that protesting for progressive causes can be a part of the game, but protesting for conservative causes requires that the rules be changed.